Guatemala’s Indigenous Communities Are Still Fighting for Their Rights

Jeff Abbott writes a column in The Progressive, The Other Americans, and this is from his latest piece.


September 15 marks 200 years since the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica gained independence from Spain. In that time, Guatemala has become the largest economy in Central America. The diverse and beautiful country draws hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. Yet, for the Indigenous populations of Guatemala, independence has not meant an end to racism, exploitation, and abandonment.

“The celebration of the bicentennial is only something imaginary for the mind of a racist government and elite,” Sitpo’p Herrera, a member of the Maya Ixil Ancestral Authorities of Nebaj, tells The Progressive. “They do not see any further than what is around them. They continue to treat the Indigenous peoples as their ancestors. Indigenous peoples are not important to them. For the Indigenous peoples, there is nothing to celebrate.”

While the countries wouldn’t form their current borders until the 1840s, the 1821 “negotiated” independence only benefited the children of the Spanish invaders, known as Criollos, who sought independence for their own interests. Independence did not form a group of nations that valued Indigenous people, but rather it abandoned those communities.

Amidst pervasive racism, wealthy foreigners in Guatemala oversaw land thefts, decades of brutal dictatorships, coup d’états, and a thirty-six-year-long internal armed conflict (1960-1996) which killed 200,000 people, displaced one million, and left 45,000 people missing or “disappeared.” The structural inequalities that have plagued Guatemala’s Indigenous communities have remained.


You can read the full piece, with links, here, Guatemala’s Indigenous Communities Are Still Fighting for Their Rights.

This piece is from ‘The Other Americans’, a column created by the author for The Progressive, on the theme of human migration in North and Central America, and you can read more of his columns here, The Other Americans.



Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Culture, Environment, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Legal, Migration, Military, Mining, Natural Disaster, Poverty, Resource Extraction, Violence

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