ACOGUATE has published a piece about the struggle of the Maya Ch’orti’ people in the face of continuous attacks, both physical and legal, the latter especially through the criminalisation of activists in defence of land and water.
For defending water, the ecosystem and the right to land for future generations in the eastern regions of the country, José Méndez Torres, Melvin Alvarez García, Ignacio Sacarías, Miguel Baudilio Canán, Isaac Cortez, Germán Torres, Medelso Enrique Cortez, Baudilio Ramírez, Axel Alfredo García Torres, Isaías Cortez Ramírez, Felipe Cortez Almazán, Melecio Vásquez and Mynor Enrique Martínez, of the Maya Ch’orti’ people and members of the Coordinating Committee of Associations and Communities for the Integral Development of the Ch’orti’ People (COMUNDICH), an organisation accompanied by ACOGUATE since 2017, faced a criminalisation process.
These defenders were accused of the crimes of murder and land seizure, in a four-year process that culminated with their declaration of innocence under prosecutorial discretion (criterio de oportunidad). This ‘prosecutorial discretion’, according to the Guatemalan code of criminal procedure, establishes that the Public Prosecutor’s Office may choose not to prosecute when it considers that the public interest or security is not threatened or that the benefit of doing so would be minimal for society, i.e. the authorities reserve the right not to continue with a criminal process.
Despite what has happened, and the suffering that this process has entailed, they all remain hopeful that they will move forward and continue to fight for future generations and for Mother Earth.
For more on this case, you can read here in Spanish, La lucha por el agua, los bosques, la tierra y la defensa de lo colectivo no terminan con la criminalización.
ACOGUATE offers international accompaniment to Guatemalan individuals and social movement and human rights organisations that find themselves at risk through the work they do against impunity and in support of a democratic, multi-ethnic, pluricultural society, based on social justice and the respect for human rights.
Categories: Accompaniment, Corruption, Criminalisation, Culture, Environment, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Mining, Poverty, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Solidarity in Action/Guatemala, Violence