Guatemala: K’iche’ People’s Council Leader Under Attack

The ITUC has joined with its Guatemalan affiliated organisations, the CUSG, CTGC and UNSITRAGUA, in denouncing the attack on 4 July against Lolita Chávez, leader of the K’iche’ People’s Council (CPK) and the Western Peoples’ Council.

The CPK had organised a peaceful demonstration in Santa Cruz del Quiché to denounce the racist and arrogant attitude shown by Mayor Estuardo Castro of the Partido Patriota (PP) towards indigenous peoples, and to condemn the corruption in his administration.

According to the information received by the ITUC, the attack took place at the end of the demonstration, when armed men attacked the members of the Council with sticks, machetes and knives, wounding four women and shouting that they were looking for Lolita Chávez. Fortunately, they did not succeed in finding her. Demonstrators called the police, who arrived 25 minutes later, only to intimidate the people from the communities. The Mayor later appeared with soldiers to threaten the CPK members and denounce land rights activists to the Human Rights Ombudsman.

"What is happening in Guatemala is totally unacceptable," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow. "The racism, intolerance and discrimination indigenous people have to face is appalling! The government must ensure that the municipal authorities and companies respect the communities’ rights, starting with ILO Convention 169."

In a letter to the Guatemalan authorities, the ITUC urged President Otto Pérez Molina to take every action necessary to ensure respect for the right to consultation, for international conventions, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Constitution of Guatemala. It also called for urgent measures to identify and prosecute all those responsible for the attacks and murders targeting leaders of the K’iche’ people.