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The struggle for indigenous and peasant land rights in Guatemala
Marking the one year anniversary of the involuntary displacement of the communities of Polochic Valley, 2,500 peasants and indigenous residents of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, began a march to the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala city – spanning nine days and 217 kilometers. The marchers intended to meet with governmental authorities from the judicial, legislative, and executive branches and request, once again, a solution to the rural and agricultural land situation in Guatemala. Their 68 specific demands fall under the categories of:
a) The cancellation of licenses for mining extraction;
b) The annulment of hydroelectricity permits;
c) The cancellation of agrarian debt;
d) An end to involuntary displacements of rural communities;
e) Demilitarization in conflict zones; and,
f) Access to land, especially for the 800 displaced families of the Polochic Valley.
The marchers arrived to the National Palace of Culture in Guatemala City on March 28, where they were joined by peasants and activists from Chiquimula, Escuintla, Huehuetenango and other parts of the country, as well as university students, bringing the total number of demonstrators to 10,000 in support of the marchers’ demands. The petitions were presented to the Government, which offered to evaluate and analyze them with respect the legal frameworks in Guatemala. The Government proposed to address the issue of agrarian debt by subsidizing the gradual reduction of the loans from the land fund, and that 300 of the 800 displaced families in Polochic Valley will gain access to land. The march and presentation of the demands is just the beginning of a process which will continue on April 19, 2012 with a meeting between the indigenous and peasant leaders and government authorities to analyze the advances attained and agreements reached.
Related news links (in Spanish)
Declaration of the March for Resistance and Dignity in Defense of Land and Territory (Comité de Unidad Campesina)
Larga negociación de manifestantes (Prensa Libre)
Gobierno analizará situación jurídica del conflicto en el Valle del Polochic (Diario de Centro América)
Thousands of Indigenous People in Guatemala March to Demand Land (Associated Press)
Thousands March in Guatemala to Demand an End to Forced Evictions (Amnesty International)
Posted By Latin America Team at 1:57pm on April 03, 2012
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