Translation by Breaking the Silence. Link to original version in Spanish.

November 23, 2016

The trial against Mynor Padilla will conclude seven years after the assassination of Adolfo Ich. On November 17, Judge Ana Leticia Peña Ayala scheduled the final hearing to present conclusions for November 30 and December 1, 2016. The debate began in April 2015, and the process has been delayed and characterized by irregularities; this includes the plaintiffs even seeking recusal of the judge on the grounds of racial discrimination.

According to an order issued on February 8, 2016 by the same judge, hearings have taken place behind closed doors, to guarantee the safety of Angélica Choc. This is despite that the plaintiffs have always disagreed with barring the presence of press and national, as well as international human rights observers. During the last hearing on November 17, the plaintiff’s lawyers, the public prosecutors and the CICIG, who are also part of the trial, proposed that the judge open the doors during the trial’s conclusions and sentencing. The judge did not accept and confirmed that the conclusions would indeed go on behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, three cases addressing the same attacks are going forward in the Canadian judicial system.

Attack against Angélica Choc

Around midnight on September 16, Angélica and her two children were at home, when they heard shots fired. She threw herself on the ground and heard the motorcycle getting farther from the house, with no one being injured. She immediately called family members to keep her company at home until dawn. The next morning, family members examining the outside wall of the house found four perforations. Later, while investigating the scene, the police found 12 calibre casings and 22 calibre shotgun bullet casings. Angélica reported the incident to the local public prosecutor’s office.

Perforations from bullets on the wall of Angelica Choc' house. Photo Credit : James Rodriguez.

Perforations from bullets on the wall of Angelica Choc’ house. Photo credit : James Rodriguez.

Angélica Choc, a human rights defender, has faced many threats and intimidation throughout the process, but her lawyers view this attack as a clear message during a key moment in the trial.

Seven years since the assassination of Adolfo Ich

September 2016 commemoration marking the assassination of Adolfo Ich. Photo credit : ACOGUATE

September 2016 commemoration marking the assassination of Adolfo Ich. Photo credit : ACOGUATE

September 27, on the seventh anniversary of the death of Adolfo Ich Chaman, family members and friends gathered at his house to commemorate his life. The community leader was assassinated in 2009 during a tense phase in the conflict between residents and actors associated with the Fenix Mine in El Estor. That night, he approached a gathering in his community La Unión in the municipality of El Estor and found a confrontation between protesters and private security of the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN by its acronym in Spanish). Upon arriving, several men approached and killed Adolfo, hacking at him with a machete and opening fire at point blank.

Recently, Angélica Choc denounced irregularities in the judicial process taking place in Puerto Barrios, as well as the threats against her at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. A well-known figure in the international scene because of her case in Canadian courts and her leadership as an Indigenous defender of human rights, she called for international support of Indigenous people and human rights defenders in Guatemala in her speech at UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Among others, Angélica met with members of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Commission of Jurists, and the Intergovernmental Working Group on Corporations and Human Rights.

“I hope that what we’re doing here creates lots of pressure; I know it won’t be appreciated by the Guatemalan state and by the NGO’s that support the company, and I know that it is a t risk to return; Nevertheless, the struggle in defence of our human rights will continue for as long as God grants me life.”

Angélica Choc, CERIGUA, 09.11.2016

Evictions in Izabal

There are different issues in the department of Izabal due to multiple interests in resourceexploitation; in the past month three communities and 88 Indigenous campesino families have been evicted due to the expansion of monoculture. This is reminiscent of similar events which occuered in the same region, and led to the assassination of Adolfo Ich. Also in 2009, a strategy of militarization was used againstMaya Q’eqchi’ communities in El Estor and Lote Ocho, who were forcibly evicted by private security and armed officials so that the land would be emptied for the Fenix mine, according to community members. When Lote Ocho was evicted in 2007, there were only women in the community. On that day, they recount that the mine’s security guards, police and soldiers came, raped them and dragged the women outside before burning their homes.

There are constant conflicts in this area between private interests and the ability of Indigenous communities to access the land and determine its use.

Angelica Choc during the commemoration of Adolfo Ich. Photo credit : James Rodriguez.

Angelica Choc during a commemoration of Adolfo Ich. Photo credit : James Rodriguez.