Guatemala: Indigenous and Rural Communities March to Defend Their Land

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

Thousands of Guatemalan indigenous people and campesinos (countrymen) participated in a nine-day march to defend their lands, protest forced relocations, and call attention to other issues affecting rural communities. Cultural Survival explains:

Organized by the Comite de Unidad Campesino, (CUC) [Committee for Campesino Unity] the march demands the attention of the State of Guatemala, as well as local, national, and international media to the issues facing the rural Indigenous and campesino majority of the country.

The report continues:

The movement leaders have issued a press statement, “Declaration of the March for Resistance and Dignity, in Defense of the Earth and Territory”  in which they have made the following demands– reiterations of longstanding grievances of the Indigenous and campesinos in Guatemala:

  • Elimination of agrarian debt imposed by the state on farmers; a just redistribution of land, allowing farmers at least a terrain to provide subsistence crops.
  • Termination of forced relocations, in particular the ongoing problem in the Polochic Vally, Alta Verapaz, where hundreds of families were violently evicted from their homes to make way for African palm and sugar plantations in March of 2011.
  • End to persecution and criminalization of Indigenous people fighting for their rights, including the 8 Indigenous women of San Miguel Ixtahuacán who have orders for capture for speaking out against the Marlin Mine.
  • Cancellation of the concessions for mining, petroleum, hydroelectric, and mono-culture agriculture.
  • Approval of the bills in Congress benefiting poor and Indigenous communities, including Bill 4087, the Law for Community Media, that would legalize community radio.

Photographer and blogger James Rodríguez published a photo essay [es] of the arrival of the marchers to Guatemala City on March 26, 2012:

Después de 9 días y 212 kilómetros, la Marcha Indígena, Campesina y Popular por la defensa de la Madre Tierra, contra los desalojos, la criminalización y por el Desarrollo Rural Integral, llegó al centro de la Ciudad Capital. Según miembros del Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC), se estima que alrededor de 15,000 personas participaron en esta novena y última jornada.

After 9 days and 212 kilometers, the Indigenous, Campesino and People March for the defense of Mother Earth, against evictions, criminalization, and in favor of Integrated Rural Development, arrived to the center of the Capital City. According to members of the Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC), it is estimated that about 15,000 people participated in the ninth and final day [of the march].

These are some of James’ photos, published with his permission:

"No to the exploitation of natural resources. No to mining"

Visit James’ blog Mi Mundo [es] to see more photos of the march in Guatemala City.

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

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