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Urgent: End Attacks Against Xinca Families / Freedom for Abelino Chub Caal!

July 12, 2017

The GSP and our partners are requesting solidarity with the indigenous community Sare los Cerritos after numerous armed attacks in recent weeks have destroyed houses in the community and left several people injured.  While the authorities refuse to take action against the wealthy “land owner” behind the attacks, indigenous leader Abelino Chub Caal remains in prison on false charges.  The two cases are not directly related but together they show the systematic injustice of the Guatemalan “justice” system, rebuilt by the US after the 1996 Peace Accords in order to guarantee continued dominance over indigenous peoples and territories.  Please call the Guatemalan Embassy today.  A sample script is at the bottom of this alert.

Sare los Cerritos is an indigenous Xinca community in the department of Jalapa, Guatemala.  The community has been organizing to demand the government recognize the Xinca people’s ancestral right to their territory.  The government has instead chosen to support large “land owners,” international mining companies and drug traffickers.  The community has faced three intense armed attacks in recent weeks which have included bombs and gunfire from men in ski masks.  The most recent attack was on July 5, when three people were shot and two houses were burned down.  The community has filed a complaint against the wealthy “land owners” Waldemar and Juan Duarte who are trying to steal the land.  The Duarte brothers are well known for their violence against indigenous peasants as well as their connections to drug traffickers and government officials.

Abelino Chub Caal is a longtime indigenous q’eqchi’ activist and friend of the GSP.  When he refused to take a bribe from a banana company that is stealing indigenous lands, an arrest warrant was placed against him on false charges.  He was arrested on February 4, 2017 while celebrating his birthday with his wife and two young children.  At a hearing on June 5, the prosecution said that they had no evidence against him and that he should be released.  Nevertheless the judge refused to release him from prison.  Today, July 12, indigenous people are marching in El Estor, Guatemala to demand freedom for Abelino.

Please consider taking the below action.  Please also consider making a donation of any size to the GSP.  All donations go to our partners.

Take action:

Call the Guatemala Embassy in Washington, DC at 202-745-4953 (You will likely hear a long recording that starts in Spanish and then will be in English.  Press 0 at any time.  This may transfer you to voicemail, in which case we ask that you please leave a voice message.)

“Hello, my name is _________ and I would like to leave a message for ambassador Ligorria regarding two cases of judicial corruption in Guatemala.  The indigenous Xinca community Sare los Cerritos in the municipality of Jalapa have been attacked at least three times in recent weeks by armed men.  The attackers have used bombs and high caliber rifles and they have destroyed houses and injured several community members.  The last attack occurred the morning of July 5, and later that day the community filed a complaint with the Public Ministry.  The community knows that the brothers Waldemar and Juan Duarte are behind the attacks, but they are worried they will never be held accountable because they are friends with drug traffickers and public prosecutors.  While the Duarte brothers remain free, in another part of the country indigenous peasant activist Abelino Chub Caal is in prison on false charges.  Chub has dedicated his life to nonviolent organizing in support of indigenous communities.  He was arrested on false charges on February 4 of this year.  At a hearing on June 5 the Public Ministry said that there was no evidence against him and that he should be released, but the judge refused to release him.  I am asking that the ambassador speak out against these two clear cases of judicial corruption in Guatemala.  The Duarte brothers should be in prison, and Chub Caal should be free.  Please pass this message on to the ambassador.  I will continue to follow the situation.  Thank you.”