New report on the right to food and human rights defenders in Guatemala

Photo: Sam Fentress, Creative Commons.

Photo: Sam Fentress, licensed under Creative Commons.

A coalition six of international organisations have published a new report on the Right to Adequate Food (RtAR) and the situation of human rights defenders in Guatemala.

The report, published in October, followed a third international mission to Guatemala, carried out in December and November 2014.  The six organisations which took part in the mission are: La Via Campesina International, ACT Alliance EU, the International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies (CIDSE), the Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA), FIAN International, and the Latin American regional secretariat of the International Union of Food Workers (Rel-UITA).

Two previous missions were carried out in 2009 and 2010. The reports from both these visits presented recommendations, with several state authorities and members of the international community pledging to implement measures of redress.   However, October’s report states that, worryingly, there has been very little progress made with regards to the implementation of the previous recommendations, and the situation for human rights defenders and food security has in fact deteriorated.

The mission’s objective was to obtain updated information on the situation for six cases of human rights abuses and attacks against human rights defenders in La Puya, San Rafael Las Flores, Valle del Polochic, La Blanca/ Ocós, Xalalá and Camotán.

A brief summary of some of the mission’s findings are as follows:

  • The Guatemalan state has foisted a development model based upon natural resource extraction for foreign exportation. This model is at odds with the development model of many of Guatemala’s rural peoples, including indigenous communities and peasant farmers.
  • This development model has led to land grabs. Land used by/belonging to peasant farmers and indigenous communities is being used for resource extraction projects, restricting communities’ access and control of their own land.
  • The state has failed to seek the free, informed and prior consent (FIPC) from communities impacted by resource extraction and megaprojects.
  • Although there is a Zero Hunger Pact Plan, the Right to Adequate Food (RtAF) and Nutrition is still being violated, and the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition are failing to be addressed.
  • Increasingly, the private sector is replacing the government’s human rights obligations, including the provision of education, health and security services. There are cases where women and children have been“discriminated against, excluded or even threatened” because they are living in communities that resisting against companies’ projects.
  • Transnational corporations operating in Guatemala have been implicated in human rights abuses, but their states of origin have failed to adopt measures preventing, protecting and remedying these violations.
  • Since the mission visited in 2010, acts of intimidation, criminalisation, and attacks against human rights defenders have increased. Most attacks go unpunished and the state and the corporations are increasingly using the military and private security at protests and in communities.
  • Women are especially vulnerable to having their RtAF violated because they are usually responsible for food preparation and family health. Furthermore, women often “identify with their territory and with natural resources and feel strongly about their children’s future and about the surrounding environment, leading to a greater awareness, will and courage to defend their rights and HR in general”.

The executive summary (English and Spanish),  as well as the full report, which is only available in Spanish, can be accessed here.

Categories: Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Poverty, Report, Resource Extraction

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