GUATEMALA: ANOTHER MURDER IN THE POLOCHIC VALLEY
In the community of Parana, in the Polochic Valley, Alta Verapaz, MARIA MARGARITA CHE CHUB, a Mayan Qeqchi mother of two, midwife, member of her community development council and community activist, was assassinated at midnight, June 4, 2011.
(Wearing a green güipil, with a towel over her shoulder, MARIA MARGARITA CHE CHUB participated May 28, 2011 in a public march in Panzos to commemorate the 1978 Panzos massacre of Mayan Qeqchi villagers. Photo credit: Mayan Qeqchi companer@s; no names provided because of the risk involved in promoting indigenous rights.)
This assassination of a well known and respected community activist and leader is part of a wave of killings, shootings and beatings of impoverished Mayan Qeqchi men and women, girls and boys, and of violent evictions of Mayan Qeqchi villages in the Polochic Valley, department of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
The most recent wave of repression began in March of this year and is a campaign of repression and terror aimed at promoting the economic interests of the Widman family, owners of the Chabil Utzaj company that is illegally and violently evicting hundreds of Mayan Qeqchi family from their lands so as to cultivate more African Palm trees for the production of ethanol bio fuels.
FROM: COMPANER@S MAYAN QEQCHIS FROM PANZOS AND EL ESTOR
Sent: June 05, 2011 11:31AM
To: Rights Action
Subject: urgent message
TO OUR COMPAÑEROS IN RIGHTS ACTION, we are writing you again because of the terrible deed that was perpetrated in the night of June 4 and morning of June 5. Once again, we are seeking your support in the struggle against the wave of violence we are experiencing in the POLOCHIC VALLEY.
In the early morning, we received a telephone call from MATEO RAX, of the community of PARANA. We are sorry to have to contact you about this... but you are the only recourse we have available to us at this time.
Our comapnera in the struggle, MARIA MARGARITA CHE CHUB, 37 years old, mother of two children, was shot and killed at 11:45 last night. She was doing chores in the kitchen of her house. Then she went to the basin outside the kitchen to wash herself. She took her clothes off. Then they shot her from behind and she fell to the ground. As of now, her body has not been collected by the Public Ministry.
MARIA MARGARITA participated in the PANZOS protest and was amongst those who confronted the military during the recent evictions. She has stood up bravely for our communities. She was an activist, a midwife and a member of her local COCODE (Community Development Council).
We do not understand why we have to live like this. Once again, they have terrorized us and left the indigenous people grieving. Faced with this terrible violence, we need your support and understanding.
THE UNION OF LATIN AMERICAN WOMEN (ULAM-GUATEMALA)
EXPRESSES DEEP SYMPATHY REGARDING THE COWARDLY MURDER OF OUR COMPAÑERA MARIA MARGARITA CHE CHUB IN THE POLOCHIC VALLEY
On June 4, at 11:55pm, María Margarita Che Chub, a community leader in Parana, in the municipality of Panzos, was shot and killed by heavily armed men who arrived on a motorcycle and attacked her outside her house in the presence of her two children.
This bloody deed can be added to all the violent acts we have endured since the government of President Alvaro Colom Caballeros - at the request authorities of the Chabil Utzaj Sugar Refinery - ordered and carried out evictions in 14 communities in the Polochic Valley on March 15. To date, these communities are still being subjected to violence by security forces and assassins hired by this company.
Two other people in this municipality have recently been killed in this manner - Antonio Beb Ac and Oscar Reyes of the communities of Miralvalle and Canlun. More than 10 people - men and women - have been wounded or injured by tear gas and over 800 people have been left in the street, with no land, no food, no medical attention and no work.
The evictions and constant attacks on our communities have seriously affected the lives of women, who are the victims of this grave human tragedy. So far, the Government has taken no responsibility for what has happened; and neither has it tried to deal with the hunger that so many people are experiencing. As well, there has been no medical care for the sick and wounded. And of course, there has been no attempt to pursue and prosecute those responsible for the attacks, all of whom are known by community members.
We hold the Chabil Utzaj Company responsible for this violence.
We also blame the Widmans (a family of German descent), the land-owning oligarchy of the region, who, have taken our lands at the cost of the lives of thousands of campesinos and left so many Q'qchies families in the street.
As well, we blame the "Grupo Pellas" of Nicaragua and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration for irresponsibly intervening and financing these projects.
We blame the Government of Guatemala and municipal authorities for allowing the presence of illegal security forces and private security guards who, right under the noses of government authorities, dare to cowardly murder defenceless women, as in the case of MARIA MARGARITA CHE CHUB.
ULAM-Guatemala condemns and repudiates the murder of María Margarita Che Chub. This murder has made widows out of all the women of Guatemala. We are in solidarity with her family, to whom we express our deepest sympathy. We also send our sympathy to her community and to all women who, because they keep up the struggle for the right to hold on to their land, are being killed and attacked in their personal integrity by State security forces and murderers hired by businessmen, who in their rush to get hold of our natural resources forget the right of the people to live.
WE CALL ON ALL NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S ORGANIZATIONS to speak out against this murder. We must unite in our struggle to defend the rights of women and rise up against the repression and criminalization of women.
TO THE INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS, we insist you take immediate action with the Government of Guatemala to ensure they address these serious violations against the life and physical integrity of campesino men and women.
TO CICIG (INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION AGAINST IMPUNITY IN GUATEMALA), we demand your immediate investigation of these deeds.
To the Government of Guatemala ... ENOUGH OF SACKING, EVICTIONS, MURDER AND AGRESSION AGAINST WOMEN, ENOUGH OF PROTECTING THE INTERESTS OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL OLIGARCHY, LANDOWNING, MINING COMPANIES, who bring nothing to this country but death and misery.
The spilled blood of María Margarita will feed our struggle and resistance to defend our Right to Life and to Mother Earth.
Guatemala, June 5, 2011
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HUMANITARIAN RELIEF FUNDS NEEDED
Rights Action is again sending emergency funds to victims of repression in Guatemala and Honduras, this time to the Polochic Valley region to help the family members of the killed and wounded, and the hundreds of forcibly evicted Mayan families now left homeless and without their corn and bean survival crops.
To help homeless and landless families in the Polochic Valley, make tax-deductible check payable to "Rights Action" and mail to:
UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA: 552 - 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8