Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Urgent Action Needed: SOA Watch Council Member Assaulted, Unarmed Peasants Being Attacked in Guatemala

Urgent Action Needed: SOA Watch Council Member Assaulted, Unarmed Peasants Being Attacked in Guatemala



Jorge Armando Lopez Cuc, 9 mths. old, was asleep in his parents house when it was set on fire


Letter from SOA Watch Council Member, Palmer Legare, September 2nd, 2010:

Friends and comrades,

Please excuse the rush that I have in writing this. Please take immediate action as my life and the lives of hundreds of unarmed peasants in the community Saquimo Setana are in danger. Briefly:

On August 31, 2010, at approximately 11:00 am, armed members of the wealthy family of Maria Elena Garcia Ical began burning houses of the Q'eqchi Maya peasant community of Saquimo Setana.

Palmer Legare began recording a video of the arson. He was then attacked and briefly detained by the family, beaten with a pistol and his life was threatened. The camera was stolen and he was barely able to escape.

Approximately 7 hours later, Guatemalan police and army arrived in the community. They stayed until 2:00 am, but refused to disarm the wealthy family.

On September 1, five members of the community and Legare traveled one hour by foot and three hours by truck to the city of Coban to file a complaint. They asked to speak with public prosecutor Sebastian Cucul, and were told to wait in the lobby. While they were waiting, the leader of the attack, Maria Elena Garcia Ical, entered the building and went to the second floor. Shortly after Legare and another community leader went up to the second floor and waited outside the attorney's closed office until a custodian opened the door to take out the trash. At this time Legare saw that the wealthy attacker was meeting with the public prosecutor. Shortly after, public prosecutor Cucul sent a message that he would not meet with community members or with Legare.

The group then went to the police to file the complaint. Shortly after they entered, a police officer said that the police would arrest the husbands of two of the women who were there if they saw them. They also said that they are waiting for the weather to improve and then they will go to the community to destroy the houses and kick out the residents. This despite a recent judge's order that the police are not to execute such an eviction.

At approximately 6:30 in the morning today, September 2, we were called by members of the community saying they had been walking towards their cornfield to harvest corn needed to sustain their families. They were met by armed members of the wealthy family, who refused to allow them to go to their fields. They threatened that if they informed anyone of this, they would be killed and their bodies would be thrown in the river.

Shortly after this, family members and/or supporters of the community used horses and pistols to attack community members. Children, women and men in the community huddled together in an attempt to defend themselves.

Shortly after this, communication with the community was lost and there has been no communication for nearly two hours. A commission lead by leaders of the Committee of Peasant Unity and accompanied by Palmer Legare of the Guatemala Solidarity Project will travel to the community immediately after sending this and other alerts.

Older information and videos about political prisoners from the community is available at: guatemalasolidarityproject.org.

ACTION NEEDED URGENTLY:

Please immediately email the governor of the department of Altaverapaz, goberaltaverapaz@gmail.com and President Alvaro Colom, cbarrientos@presidencia.gob.gt, and it is important to cc: esay@oj.gob.gt, solidaridadguatemala@yahoo.com, stuand_wckr@yahoo.com, fdaltaverapaz@mp.gob.gt, mpcoban@hotmail.com. Please write in English or Spanish your concern about the situation. Your email can be very brief or long but it is important they know they are being watched, and it's preferred that the email be in your own words. Please include your location in the email.

Visit www.GuatemalaSolidarityProject.org for updates.


"The trail of blood blazed by graduates of the School of the Americas throughout Latin America continues, due, in part, to a culture of impunity that reigns in the continent...If one hundred or one thousand or 5 thousand of us do this [take action], it might just make a difference, for the people of Bolivia, for the people of Latin America." (PAL Director, Lisa Sullivan)


In Solidarity,
SOA Watch

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