Mayan Q’eqchí Communities Violently Evicted in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala

From Upside Down World

Written By Jeff Abbott

The Q’eqchí Mayan communities along the River Dolores in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz have relied on the river’s waters for their fields, and their livelihoods for generations. But when the proposed construction of the Santa Rita dam down river threatened their land, the communities decided to resist the construction of the dam, and demand that the government of Guatemala respect their communities rights to their land and water; yet their resistance and defense of their land has been greatly challenged and dismantled by the Guatemalan state.

On the morning of August 14, well over 1,600 members of the Guatemalan National Police (PNC) and elements of the Guatemalan military arrived in the indigenous Q’eqchí communities along the Dolores River in Alta Verapaz to begin forcibly evicting the communities to make way for the construction of a hydro electrical project.

In the communities of Monte Olivio and 9th de February, police burned houses and destroyed the property of the families; an action that echoes back to the scorched earth polices of Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict. Hundreds of families were left internally displaced.

The evictions turned deadly in the local community of Semococh when the police shot and killed Luciano Can, 40, and Oscar Chen, 35, in confrontations during the eviction. A third man, Sebastian Rax, 22, was also shot by the PNC, and would later die in the hospital. Sixty others were injured, and 26 were arrested in the operation to evict the communities. READ IN FULL

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