“This land is ours”

On May 5, a Peace Brigades International delegation met with Olivia, a representative of the Residents Association of Chicoyogüito, Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV) at a café in the city of Cobán in the department of Alta Verapaz.

She told us about the eviction and displacement of her community so that a military base could be constructed on those ancestral lands.

That eviction took place on July 28, 1968 – 55 years ago today.

The 200 families of the Indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito were violently displaced that day so that an army base – then known as Military Zone 21 – could be established in the department of Alta Verapaz.

After the eviction of the community, the military base became a clandestine center for illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearance, and rape committed from 1978 to 1990.

At least 565 Indigenous people were disappeared at that base. The bodies identified are of Mayan Achí, Q’eqchi’, Pomochí, Ixil, and Kiché peoples.

The military base is considered the largest clandestine cemetery in Latin America.

The military base that displaced his community was rebranded in 2004 as Creompaz, a training base for UN peacekeepers.

Dawn Paley has written: “Regardless of the mass graves at the base, military and police training continues there, supported by countries like the US and Canada.” 

Photo: CREOMPAZ, March 20, 2021.

At the bottom of this website (dated 2023), the Peace Operations Training Institute that partners with CREOMPAZ “to provide e-learning on peacekeeping courses” thanks Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Programme for their funding.

Domingo, a member of AVECHAV, highlighted on a PBI webinar on July 15, 2021: “We know Canada has provided a lot of support for [the Creompaz peacekeeping base on our land]. But where is the peace that they say they are creating?”

Video: PBI webinar with Olivia and Domingo from AVECHAV, Santiago Choc Cu of the PBI-Guatemala accompanied Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) and Rachel Small of World Beyond War Canada.

PBI-Guatemala began accompanying AVECHAV in 2015.

Published by Brent Patterson on