We need your help to support hundreds of indigenous families in Guatemala who are facing violence, homelessness, and starvation as a result of a brutal displacement.
In March of 2011, hundreds of Maya Q’eqchi’ families—poor farmers surviving on subsistence crops in Guatemala’s Polochic Valley—were violently pushed off their ancestral lands. They watched as their crops were burned and homes were destroyed by security forces contracted by a sugar company that claims to own the land. Left without shelter or any means to survive, for the past ten months these communities have been facing increasing starvation, sickness, and ongoing violence from the soldiers, national police and private security guards that originally displaced them.
Guatemalan and international human rights organizations have been organizing for many months to push the Guatemalan government to respond to this growing humanitarian crisis. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights even ordered the Guatemalan government to take steps to assure the health, safety and physical well-being of these evicted indigenous farming communities. And yet, the Guatemalan government has still done very little to protect these communities or provide them land and basic goods they need to survive. So our human rights partners have asked us to take part in a renewed push to get the Guatemalan government to take action.
On Saturday, January 14th, 2012, Guatemala inaugurated a new president, retired General Otto Pérez Molina, who commanded military intelligence during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. President Pérez Molina has promised to use an “iron fist” to fight the organized crime networks plaguing the country. However, many fear that the same “iron fist” may be used to suppress indigenous groups, human rights defenders, and others who are organizing for their rights to land.
In the case of the communities in the Polochic Valley, human rights groups and community members alike now fear that even the small progress that had been made with the last administration to deliver some food aid will now be lost. Without a strong statement from members of the international community like you, these families could be left permanently living in shelters erected on the side of the road, unable to plant crops, and watching as their children starve.
Let President Pérez Molina know that the world is watching and we expect him to take action. Sign our petition today!
Thank you for taking the time to care and make your voice heard on this important issue. If you want to learn more about violence and displacement in Guatemala, check out the blog Vanessa wrote about her trip there this summer. To learn more about President Otto Pérez Molina, take a look at this article by our partners at the National Security Archive. If you sign the petition, we’ll keep you updated as things progress.