Helicopters fly overhead with armed men leaning out the door pointing guns at peasants below. Masked paramilitaries attack communities at night. Murderers remain free and community leaders are arrested on fraudulent charges. Hundreds of families have had their houses and crops burned to the ground, leaving them with hunger and a desperate struggle for survival.
Read the rest of the report here
Urgent need for international human rights accompaniers in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
The Guatemala Solidarity Project is calling for volunteers to join ongoing international human rights accompaniment and observation in q’eqchi’ communities under threat in Guatemala. Families in GSP partner communities in the region have lived the last year with the constant threat of violent attacks. Often it has been more than threats – hundreds of houses and over a thousand acres of basic grains have been burned down in the approximately 20 rural communities we work with in the department of Alta Verapaz. Three new political prisoners have been arrested from the communities in the past year, three community leaders have been murdered, and numerous others have been injured. Chronic malnutrition has overwhelmed communities as a result of lost crops and the low wages paid by large land owners.
Our experience and analysis show us that the presence of a group of international human rights accompaniers often lessens the likelihood of violent attacks against communities and community leaders. Considering this, the upcoming elections, and the fact that many communities are nearing their most important harvest, the GSP and q’eqchi’ community leaders affiliated with the Committee of Peasant Unity are organizing ongoing human rights accompaniment to last through at least through the important September harvest.
We need more participants! Community and GSP leaders have analyzed the situation and decided that there must be no fewer than four international accompaniers present at all times. We feel that a smaller group would not be adequate for safety reasons, and we will pull out of the community (hopefully only temporarily) if/when we have fewer than four accompaniers.
This is a great opportunity to share, learn and live with organized q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala. It is an opportunity to support the peasant struggle for justice at a time when the government and oligarchy are accelerating their repression and plundering of peasant and indigenous communities and resources. It also implies taking risks, being disciplined, and deferring to local decision making processes.
Participants must commit to at least one week, although we prefer a minimum commitment of two weeks. This time includes attending an orientation process before final commitment. Those interested in joining us should email email@example.com for more information and an application.