An Epidemic of Evictions: Rural Guatemalans Face Violence and Repression in Their Fight for Land Rights
In rural Guatemala, a silent epidemic of evictions is ravaging peasant and Indigenous communities. Countless families have already been forcibly evicted from their territories by state-endorsed corporate farmers, who are attempting to establish monoculture plantations on the ancestral territories of local people. Perpetrators have enacted violence against communities and razed their ancestral lands. These abuses have worsened food security, poverty, and repression in a country deeply enmeshed in systems of racial and neocolonial exploitation.
Future prospects appear equally grim. As big agriculture, extractive industry, and the government consolidate power at the highest levels, thousands of family farmers risk losing their lands. Despite the dire humanitarian crisis in Guatemala, shockingly little about the evictions or human rights abuses in-country has made the headlines of international media.
Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for land and environmental defenders. Nonetheless, many courageous activists continue the fight for justice in Guatemala; risking harassment, unjust imprisonment, and even death to secure land rights for their communities. Their heroic efforts notwithstanding, de facto control of media by the State and the corruption of democratic processes in Guatemala have rendered it impossible for defenders to place land on the national political agenda. To secure their rights, stop evictions, and promote democracy in Guatemala, it is crucial that these issues are given the attention they deserve in international politics and media.
These next two months represent a tipping point for land defenders and rural communities in Guatemala. The country is facing two key rounds of national elections, and at this time, land rights are still absent from the national debate. In solidarity with the National Coalition for Land in Guatemala and the International Land Coalition, Land Rights Now is seeking international support for rural Guatemalans on three critical points:
- An immediate halt to evictions and the use of violence against landless rural and Indigenous families.
- Prompt and effective justice for the individuals and communities criminalized for defending human rights.
- An end to extractive megaprojects and large-scale agribusinesses in Indigenous territories.
To learn more about Guatemala’s crisis of evictions, read the declaration of the Coalición Nacional por La Tierra here.