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“When a farmworker dies, they cry ‘Victory! Victory!'”

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We could say that it was a way to inflict terror on the farm workers. They had no other choice but to flee and save their lives. Those who died, died. Regrettably, CONIC (Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina) could not do anything. That same day we witnessed many houses being burned. An entire village was burned down.

Versión en español abajo

by Damián Vail, a representative of CONIC (Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina) in Guatemala

Damián Vail is a representative of CONIC (Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina) in Guatemala and speaks about the sudden displacement of 510 families on August 31, 2004 from the Nueva Linda farm in Guatemala. They had occupied the farm to demand return of their leader who they claim was last seen being taken away by farm security. The government and police/military have claimed that the farmworkers were armed and attacked first. In the incident, eight farmworkers and four police officers died. According to Mr. Vail, CONIC did not participate in the action but is calling for a resolution of the Nueva Linda families’ demands for land and justice.

“They came heavily armed, there is no doubt. My sister and I saw how the bullets flew just past us.” -Testimony of a community member from Nueva Linda.

“We could say that it was a way to inflict terror on the farm workers. They had no other choice but to flee and save their lives. Those who died, died. Regrettably, CONIC (Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina) could not do anything. That same day we witnessed many houses being burned. An entire village was burned down. Their animals, corn, beans, everything they had harvested and all their possessions including bicycles, were burned! There were five cars full of elderly people and some families that tried to escape but were not able to do so. Salt was thrown into the radiators and motors before they were set on fire. We were very worried as we feared that the negotiating table would be broken forever and stained with blood. At the end of this aggressive eviction, there were thirty-one victims. Some remained missing, others were sent to a hospital or died. As for those that were missing, we found later that they were healing inside their homes since they were too afraid of going to a public center. We asked the government to free those who were incarcerated unjustly and to continue the Hector Rene (Reyes) investigation (the campesino leader who was disappeared), but they continued to neglect it. None of this has been done.

“A special humanitarian commission was established including Rigoberta Menchú to continue investigating this tragedy but there have been few results. The government asked us for some information on the incident but nothing else has been done. The only thing that has been paid for [by the government] at the moment is the harvest that has been lost. We have insisted that they give the campesinos land because they need it to make a living. As far as the legal process goes, it has been said that a special prosecuting unit has been formed but we can only hope this works. This is where we need solidarity from all of you. It is an insult for us that the interest of a few is given more importance and the rest of the community is ignored. We are more than willing to continue a dialogue as long as the Guatemalan government shows willingness to find a solution. If we do not find a solution we will continue to see the same businessmen, military, and politicians taking advantage of their positions of power. It has been said abroad that a peace accord in Guatemala has improved the situation. Sure there is improvement and development but who is it benefiting?”

“Cuando muere un campesino dicen ‘¡Victoria! ¡Victoria!’”

por Damián Vail, un representante de CONIC (Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina) en Guatemala

Damián Vail es un representante de CONIC (Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina) en Guatemala y habla sobre la repentina jornada de sangre en la finca Nueva Linda, Guatemala donde fueron desalojadas 510 familias el 31 de agosto, 2004. El gobierno y los militares declararon que los campesinos estaban armados y atacaron primero. Cuatro policías y ocho campesinos murieron. Según el Señor Vail, CONIC no participó en la acción pero sí pide que haya resolución y que las familias de Nueva Linda tengan justicia y se les regrese su terreno.

“Venian bien armadas, no hay duda. Mi hermana y yo pudimos ver como nos pasaban las balas.” -Testimonio de un miembro de la finca Nueva Linda.

“Se puede decir que fue una forma de meter terror en los campesinos. Ellos no pudieron hacer nada más que salir y salvar sus vidas. Los que se murieron, murieron. Lamentablemente, nosotros como CONIC (Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina) no pudimos hacer nada. En ese mismo día fuimos testigo de tantos ranchos quemados. Todo un pueblo fue quemado. ¡Animales, maíz, fríjol, bicicletas, todas sus pertenencias! Cinco carros llenos de ancianos y pocas familias que trataron de huir, ya no pudieron salir. Metieron sal en el motor y radiador y después fueron encendidos. Estuvimos muy preocupados porque pensamos que la mesa de negociaciones se había roto para siempre ya que estaba manchada de sangre. Al final, dentro de ese desalojo hubo treinta y uno victimas. Los que estaban en el hospital, los que continuaron desaparecido, y los fallecidos. Entre los desaparecidos eran aquellos que estaban heridos pero no se animaron a ir a un centro público. Después nos dimos cuenta de que muchos de ellos se estaban curando en casas cerradas por miedo. Los acuerdos que se le dijo al gobierno es que se liberarán los que estaban encarcelados injustamente y continuar la investigación con en el caso de Hector Rene, un líder de los campesinos, pero continuaron a dejar todo por un lado. Hasta ahora no se ha hecho nada.

“Se formo una comisión especial humanitaria encabezada por Rigoberta Menchú y otros activistas para dar seguimiento a esta tragedia pero ha habido pocos resultados. Les pidimos al gobierno terreno para esta gente. El gobierno nos pidió datos e información sobre el incidente, pero muy poco se ha concretado. Hasta ahora solo se está pagando por la siembra perdida. Insistimos que nos entreguen el terreno porque la gente la necesita para sobrevivir. En el caso de la justicia se dice que se formó un fiscal especial y solo esperamos que esto funcione. Creo yo, que aquí es donde necesitamos solidaridad. No queremos que esto suceda otra vez. Es un insulto para nosotros cuando le dan más importancia a defender los intereses de pocos y se ignora la comunidad. Estamos en total disposición de seguir el dialogo siempre y cuando el gobierno enseñe esta voluntad y una solución. Si no se ve alguna solución seguiremos viendo los mismos empresarios, militares, y políticos tomando ventaja de sus prestigiosas posiciones. Afuera se adorna muy bien la situación diciendo que los acuerdos de paz en Guatemala han avanzado mucho. Claro que se está mejorando y hay desarrollo pero, ¿a quien beneficia?”