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Justice for Q'eqchi Peasant Community Saquimo Setana

Justice for Q'eqchi Peasant Community Saquimo Setana

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This petition has been created by Guatemala Solidarity P. and may not represent the views of the Avaaz community.
Guatemala Solidarity P.
started this petition to
Guatemala Interior Minister Lopez Bonilla
Saquimo Setana is a partner of the Guatemala Solidarity Project. More information about the community and the GSP can be found at http://guatemalasolidarityproject.org Since we first met the community several years ago they have taught us much about nonviolent organizing, love, food, the beauty and importance of protecting diverse ecosystems, and many other things. We hope to learn much more from them - if they can survive.

Over 20 years ago, a group of peasant families bought land in the Coban region of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. They have documentation to prove the sale. Since this time, the community has lived on the land, cultivating food for their families as well as cardamom to sell.

Beginning just a few years after the purchase, the community has faced continued attacks. In many of these attacks homes have been burned down, residents have been assaulted and community leaders have been arrested on fraudulent charges. The attacks most commonly occur between September and November when the community is harvesting the cardamom which it depends on for survival. The harvest has routinely been stolen, and part of the forest surrounding the community has been clearcut.

The corrupt Guatemalan government has supported the attacks, often by participating in them and also by arresting community leaders. In prison they have faced beatings, denial of food and denial of medicine. They have been told that this treatment will continue unless they sign false confessions implementing community and national peasant leaders in invented crimes.

The violence and repression has had an extremely harmful impact on children in the community. The school’s elementary teacher has told us that his students have difficulty concentrating because they are constantly worried about another attack. The burning of houses and theft of harvests have made it difficult for parents to provide their children with appropriate nutrition.