June 10, 2014 update: The GSP condemns continued violence against Monte Olivo and surrounding q’eqchi’ communities. We particularly condemn attacks against children and pregnant women.
We continue to call for solidarity with the people of Monte Olivo, include via donations to support political prisoners and emergency health costs after attacks.
Urgent Action: Q’eqchi’ Leaders Arrested Despite Murder of Children
March 4, 2014
The Guatemala Solidarity Project strongly condemns yesterday’s illegal arrest of community leader Jose Maria Guitz and Angel Tot. Guitz and Tot are among thousands of indigenous q’eqchi’ peasants organizing against the threatened construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam. The dam would cause massive environmental damage and rob land from dozens of q’eqchi’ communities.
Guitz helps run one of the few health centers in the region, meaning his arrest will have a deep negative impact in the area. Guitz is a member of the community Monte Olivo of the municipality of Coban, Alta Verapaz. The community has faced extreme repression for organizing in defense of their constitutional rights.
On August 14, 2013, environmentalist and community leader David Chen was threatened at gun point and narrowly escaped an attempted kidnapping. On August 23, 2013, 13 year-old Ageo Isaac Maas Guitz and 11-year-old David Estuardo Pacay Mass were murdered by an employee of Hidro Santa Rita SA. Not coincidentally, the murders occurred as community leaders were meeting with Dinah Shelton, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. On November 8, 2013, community leader Carlos Guitz was shot in the back. He is currently paralyzed from the legs down. On December 8, 2013, several youth were attacked with machetes, and continue to be in recovery.
The community believes that Hidro Santa Rita is the intellectual author of these and other attacks and is calling for the arrest of those responsible.
1. Please call Edgar Villanueva at the Gutemalan Embassy in the United States at 202 745 4953 or 202 745 3873 and request the immediate release of Jose Maria Guitz and Angel Tot. Please also ask for the immediate cancellation of arrest warrants for community leaders from Monte Olivo, and the arrest of the true criminals – the intellectual authors of the violent attacks against community.
2. Please consider making a donation to the GSP. All contributions go directly to our partners in Guatemala. We are currently assisting with the medical care being provided to Carlos Guitz. More information is at www.guatemalasolidarityproject.org
3. Please consider joining the GSP in Guatemala by participating in one of our solidarity delegations or in human rights accompaniment. For more information email us at firstname.lastname@example.org