In our newest issue of El Quetzal, GHRC investigates the recent trends of militarization and criminalization, provides an update on the Polochic land eviction case, highlights the international search for mining justice, and looks at advances in cases regarding the disappeared in Guatemala. We also hear from one of our “Women in Resistance” delegation participants, as well as one of our Voiceless Speak Fund recipients, who reports on his work with the Mayan community in Omaha, Nebraska.


Increasing Militarization in Guatemala Threatens Human Rights

In response to a widespread resistance movement against a proposed hydroelectric dam, Guatemalan security forces were mobilized and sent to Santa Cruz Barillas in northern Huehuetenango in May of 2013.

Over the last several months, GHRC has been tracking the effects of increased militarization in Barillas and other areas throughout Guatemala where communities have organized to protect their land, as well as the state’s increasingly militarized response to drug violence and organized crime.

140 Families Receive Land Two Years After Polochic Evictions

On October 19, the Guatemalan government handed over land to 140 families that were forcibly displaced in March of 2011. The eviction, carried out over multiple days, had left almost 800 Q’eqchi’ families without land, shelter or sufficient food.

After two and a half years of struggle, the handover of some parcels of land is a huge step toward addressing the hunger and suffering of the evicted families. Nevertheless, domestic and international pressure must be sustained in order to ensure that the rest of the families awaiting justice once again have access to land.

The International Search for Mining Justice

Guatemala has endured conflict over mining for several decades, but over the last couple of years, the number and intensity of the conflicts have escalated. Although the companies that mine Guatemala’s soil are domestic, they are universally contracted by, or subsidiaries of, foreign corporations. So, alongside ongoing local efforts to halt mining, affected communities and their allies have sought creative ways to hold the parent companies accountable abroad. Three struggles against mining over the last year have successfully brought their fight to mining companies in the US and Canada:  La Puya, San Rafael las Flores and El Estor.