The situation for land rights defenders in Guatemala is seriously and rapidly deteriorating, according to alerts released by PBI Guatemala and other human rights organisations. Since 9 May, seven indigenous leaders and activists have been killed across the country.

  • Luis Arturo Marroquín, community leader from Jalapa and member of the Campesino Development Committee (CODECA), was assassinated by unknown gunmen on 9 May.
  • José Can Xol, indigenous authority of the community of Choctún Basilá in Alta Verapaz and member of the Altiplano Campesino Development Committee (CCDA) was shot dead during an attempt to illegally evict his community from their lands on 10 May.
  • Mateo Chamam Paau, land rights defender and member of CCDA, was assassinated on 13 May in the community of San Juan los Tres Ríos in Alta Verapaz.
  • Ramón Choc Sacrab, member of CCDA and indigenous authority of the Ixloc community, Alta Verapaz, was attacked with a knife on 30 May and died the next day.
  • On 4 June the bodies of Florencio Pérez Nájera and Alejandro Hernández García, both members of CODECA from Jutiapa, were found. Both died from machete wounds.
  • Francisco Munguia, community vice-president of CODECA in Aldea Divisadero Xalapan, Jalapa, was hacked to death by machete while returning from work on 8 June.

These seven human rights defenders killed in this short period worked in defence of land and territorial rights, an activity that has become, without doubt, the highest risk in Guatemala. People who defend their land and territory routinely receive threats that often end in violent deaths.

In this context, PBI Guatemala has observed an alarming escalation of violent attacks and intimidation against our accompanied organisations, especially the New Day Ch'orti Campesino Central Coordinator (CCCND) and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón.

Incidents include shots against the vehicle of CCCND leader Omar Jerónimo, and death threats and intimidation with machetes against people taking part in peaceful demonstrations relating to the installation of large-scale hydroelectric projects on the Cahabón River.

More detail on these recent human rights violations can be found in this alert from PBI Guatemala.

An open letter signed by 61 human rights organisations calling for immediate action from the government of Guatemala can be found here.

PBI calls on the international community to demand that the government of Guatemala ensure the protection of at-risk human rights defenders, especially those working in defence of land and territorial rights, and undertake prompt investigation into the perpetrators of these attacks and killings.