Article by PBI-Guatemala

Photo by UVOC.

The Verapaz Union of Campesino Organizations (UVOC) is an Indigenous and peasant organization dedicated to the defence and promotion of access to land for peasants.

On October 31, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project shared UVOC’s post on Facebook about the violent eviction of members of the Mayan Q’eqchi community of Chinebal in the municipality of El Estor, Izabal by a large contingent of police.

UVOC notes: “According to information from the community authority there is a deceased person in the community and several police officers injured, as well as several missing people who ran to the mountain and it’s not known yet.”

The following day, Festivales Solidarios tweeted: “Yesterday the Guatemalan police, in a violent eviction in the Chinebal community, El Estor, Izabal, murdered José Choc Chamán and Manuel Pérez, they also captured (kidnapped) Martín Tut, 70 years old, and entire families fled to the mountain to protect themselves.”

A headline in Prensa Libre also explains some of the context: “Neighbors of the Chinebal village, in El Estor, Izabal, oppose the operations of an African palm company.”

And an article in Telesur suggests that residents of El Chinebal had blockaded the road to the NaturAceites company.

This seems to be further confirmed in the UVOC post which notes: “We were able to observe that the NaturAceites company brought armed people from Morales, Izabal.”

Reuters has previously reported that NaturAceites is a company owned by one of Guatemala’s richest families.

UVOC further calls for support from the international community against these projects [presumably meaning palm oil plantations] that bring “oppression and eviction” and demands “that this government stop attacking Indigenous peoples.”

PBI-Guatemala has been accompanying UVOC since 2005, following threats and serious intimidation against some of its members. In the few last years, the accompaniment of UVOC has been extended to some of the communities that the UVOC advises, with PBI carrying out regular visits with them.