Jeff Abbott writes in El Faro about the challenges facing Indigenous communities involved in disputes over land, especially in this time of pandemic.
The makeshift houses made of black plastic and bamboo line the road cutting through the lush green valley in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. Rumors of a pending eviction permeate the small encampment between the road and the Chixoy river.
Land conflicts are part of the long history of inequalities in Guatemala. Today, communities throughout the country facing attacks and evictions are engaged in recuperation and court battles to defend their lands.
The 40 Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi families started occupying the land in Chitún, Tucurú, Alta Verapaz in July 2020. They say that the land belongs to them, until it was forcibly taken by a hydro project the estimate nearly twenty years ago.
“We are trying to recuperate the rest of our community,” David Maxaná, a 30-year-old resident of Chitún who lives in the makeshift houses made of canes and plastic tarps that make up the occupation, said. “We are not [land] invaders. We are seeking to recuperate the land that was taken years ago from our ancestors.”
He adds, “The company doesn’t need this land, but we, the campesinos, need the land to cultivate. We have received threats and heard rumors [of eviction].”
You can read the full piece, with photos and links, here in El Faro.