Guatemala: They attack us because we don’t back down


On the heels of the massacre of 7 k’iche and kaqchikel indigenous activists in Totonicapán, Guatemala during peaceful protests on October 4th, Guatemala’s government continues to deny responsibility and fails to reign in transnational mining companies whose illegal land grabs displace communities. These land seizures and mining activities have contributed to high levels of poverty, illness, violence and death, leaving indigenous women to bear the brunt.

In the struggle for land, for natural resources, what is at play is our very existence. ~ Miriam Pixtún, Tz´ununija´, Guatemala

In response to the growing level of violence and the government's inaction, JASS Mesoamerica and partners Sinergia No’j, National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG), Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala (UDEFEGUA), Association of Women for Feminist Studies (AMEF), and Mayan Association Uk’ux B’e brought together 40 indigenous women who are leading the struggle to defend land and natural resources across Guatemala to demand their right to be consulted about their lands as enshrined in article 15 of the ILO (International Labor Organization) Convention No. 169. In this unique meeting, women reconstructed what has happened to their communities and families over 6 decades – weaving a rich story of exploitation and struggle. With great hope despite the odds, they exchanged advice for self-defense strategies, and mapped out economic alternatives to the mega-project development strategy that is destroying their communities.

This space also served to present the Survivors to Defenders report from the 2012 fact-finding mission co-organized by JASS, and to introduce the National Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Guatemala to the participants, who although may not consider themselves as such, are human rights defenders.

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They attack us because we do not back down, they threaten us with imprisonment, they fail to respect the consultation processes…We see the soldiers and we feel terror because we know what happened to our mothers, aunts, it’s tough. - Participant

 

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