Armed groups of a logging company attacked and fired gunshots at the families of the indigenous community of Las Pilas de Santa María Cahabón, Alta Verapaz, in Guatemala yesterday, April 7.
Gunshots were fired during a confrontation between the indigenous community and the armed militia of the company. Threatened women and children, who gathered together in fear, were traumatized by the attacks, as reported by the Comité Campesino del Altiplano (Campesino Committee of the Highlands / CCDA).
The community has long denounced the massive logging in their forests and ancestral territories. Many community members, especially indigenous farmers, have cried violations of their right to land and land dispossession.
The community has filed complaints at the Public Prosecutor of Gerona against the logging company questioning the National Forest Institute (Instituto Nacional de Bosques/ INAB) and the local Municipality for giving out anomalous licenses and authority. Indigenous groups have also called out the Policía Nacional Civil, INAB, and Municipality of collaboration to the attacks on their rights and lives.
CCDA has called to urgently stop the “murderers who destroy our mother nature and represses those who defend it.” The logging license is a license to kill the forest and the environment “that the communities have taken care of for millennia. Mother earth is not for sale, it [must be] recovered and defended,” CCDA emphasized.
“We in the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) strongly denounce these brutal attacks,” said Beverly Longid, IPMSDL Global Coordinator. “We call on the Guatemala government to uphold its commitments to protect the Indigenous Peoples right to land and self-determination.”
Global Witness reported 13 land and forest defenders killings in 2020 and 12 in 2019. It has been in the top 5 most dangerous countries in Latin America for two years, with Colombia, Honduras, Brazil, and Mexico.
“The international community will watch closely and demand for the immediate investigation of these attacks. The impunity against our Indigenous Peoples and our forests must end now. Swift moratorium on all logging operations must also be considered while justice and accountability remains bleak for the affected communities,” Longid said.
Romeo Jara, Communications Officer