Lolita Chávez: ‘We have the right to live in a territory that for us is sacred’

Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic from EarthBeat (Courtesy of Council of K’iche Peoples)

Barbara Fraser presents, in EarthBeat, an interview with Lolita Chavez, who is to receive the annual Romero Human Rights Award, named for St. Óscar Romero. The award was established by the University of Dayton Ohio, in the United States, in 2000, to honor individuals or groups who have contributed to the alleviation of suffering or injustice in the world.

Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, a K’iche Maya teacher and community leader in Guatemala, was returning home on a bus with other women when armed men boarded the vehicle and demanded to know “Who is Lolita?” Thinking she was about to die, she was about to answer when another woman stood up and said, “I am Lolita.” The men began to beat her, when another woman, and then another, said, “No, I am Lolita.”

She escaped injury that day, but in 2017, she and other members of the Council of K’iche Peoples for the Defense of Life, Mother Nature, Land and Territory were attacked after stopping a truck carrying illegally cut timber. Death threats forced her to leave her country that year.

For Chávez, who lived through 24 years of civil war, the peace accords signed in Guatemala in 1996 did not end the violence. A leader in her people’s struggle to defend their land against mining, dam construction and illegal logging, she has been accused of being a guerrilla and a national security threat.

On April 20, she will receive the annual Romero Human Rights Award from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio.

You can read the full interview here, Environmental justice award winner: ‘We have the right to live in a territory that for us is sacred’.

Una versión, en español, está disponible aquí, Ganadora de premio de justicia ambiental: ‘Tenemos el derecho de vivir en un territorio que para nosotras es sagrado’.

Categories: Accompaniment, Criminalisation, Culture, Environment, Femicide, Gender, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Legal, Military, Mining, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Violence

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