GUATEMALA CITY – About 100 Guatemalan peasants staged a protest on Monday outside the Presidential Residence in the country’s capital to demand that the government of Jimmy Morales stop evictions and provide legal certainty for them regarding lands that they occupy.
The peasants, most of whom came from assorted communities in the northern province of Alta Verapaz, blocked traffic through the area, all the while amid a heavy police presence, EFE verified.
One of the leaders of the CCDA peasant committee for development of Guatemala’s altiplano region, Marcelo Sabuc, told reporters that the protest was undertaken as a pressure tactic to get the government to stop “forced evictions” in several interior departments and to provide legal guarantees for peasants occupying otherwise unused land.
Participating in the demonstration were peasants from the provinces of Alta Verapaz, Quiche, Escuintla and Santa Rosa.
Sabuc said that the protesters were ready to remain at the site until they receive an official response to their demands.
Another CCDA leader, Carlos Choc, said that about 800 families in 44 communities have been evicted.
“We’ve been dialoguing for months with the Land Fund and the Agrarian Affairs Secretariat but we’ve had no positive responses. We need legal certainty on the lands where we were born,” Choc told reporters.
Olga Chuc, the spokesperson for the La Nueva Libertad community in Coban, Alta Verapaz, told EFE that the group will remain outside the Presidential Residence for an undetermined time because “the government is pretending it is deaf.”
So far, no government official or entity has issued a statement about the demonstration.
On Nov. 2, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala and the country’s Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office expressed their concern about the recent evictions by the security forces in Livingston and Tactic, in Izabal and Alta Verapaz provinces, respectively, and asked the authorities to respect the established guarantees for peasant families.