Protect Lolita Chávez for her defense of natural resources

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The following alert is from IM-Defensoras and can be viewed here.

Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, an active membre of the Council of the Ki’che’ Peoples (CPK), is a woman human rights defender who has constantly spoken out against acts of corruption committed by local authorities in the Quiche province.

For the last two weeks, she has led mobilizations against clearcutting that is going on in the province’s communally owned forests.

In the early morning hours of June 23, CPK members who were monitoring the clearcutting saw more than 30 trucks go by, loaded down with timber. They filed a complaint with the National Civil Police (PNC) and the National Forestry Institute (INAB) to oblige them to conduct a count of the wood being taken out of the communities and determine whether or not the amount coincides with what is legally reported and permitted in the registry authorized by the INAB.

The fact that the INAB workers were so slow about conducting the count allowed a group of armed, unidentified persons to get to the province’s central park, where they directly approached Lolita Chavez and threatened her with death, using obscene language and menacing behavior to warn her that she had better stop meddling in such affairs. She requested help from the PNC in denouncing the threat and identifying the aggresors, but the agents said nothing in the police report about the threat or the perpetrators.

The following July 4, a demonstration was held in suport of the INAB outside the Quiche provincial capítol, where the main speaker made intimidating statements against Lolita Chávez, indicating his group’s intention to request that she be banished from the province.

The Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit (UDEFEGUA), National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala, and IM-Defensoras hereby repudiate and condemn these threats, which are highly charged with gender violence and discrimination against the defender. During the last dècade, Lolita has been the target of numerous attacks due to her defense of the territory and natural resources.

In the same vein, we demand that the competent authorities follow up on the complaints filed by the defender, investigate the facts of the case and identify the aggressors.

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Categories: Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Land, Solidarity in Action, Urgent Actions, Violence

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