“The massive evictions of 800 families from 14 communities in Guatemala’s Polochic Valley, removing peasant agriculture in order to install the Chabil Utzaj sugar plantation, began on March 15, 2011. When we heard, we were surprised. Not because we have any illusions about the benevolence of the Guatemalan government or the oligarchy it serves, but because we didn’t expect the government to risk the public reaction that a major atrocity in the Polochic’s symbolic municipality of Panzós would provoke. Here in Guatemala, the Colom administration poses as a populist movement that takes the side of the poor, but Colom and his now ex-wife Sandra Torres are enmbroiled in major electoral tension as Torres battles her disqualification from the electoral contest for President. Because Colom and Torres are banking on their ability to mobilize the working classes to protest on their behalf in order to win the elections and maintain power, we didn’t anticipate that the government would be willing to shatter the illusion of their so-called “Times of Solidarity” so bluntly.”
With the backdrop of the upcoming Presidential elections, here is an article by Tristan Call and Katy Savage, courtesy of Upside Down World, providing an all too familiar description of the background and events that are blighting the lives of evicted communities in the Polochic valley, in Alta Verapaz. There is also a brief description of the massacres in nearby Panzós, one of the more notorious during the internal conflict, to give a sense of historical forces at play.
The article also shows how the price of crop staples is affected by the world market, not as a consequence of food, but of fuel. There’s profit to be made and best to keep the prices as high as possible and enclose and steal as much land as your private armed security can manage, with not a little help from the State security forces.
It is a story of all Guatemala – land, oligarch repression, poverty, State violence, injustice, hunger, and murder. It is also a sadly everyday story where the growing of crops to sate the global North’s hunger for fuel, comes before the poor’s need for food and security.
This article was also referenced on the LAB website.