On July 4th, 2012, Lolita Chávez, coordinator of the K’iche’ People’s Council (CPK) – pictured here during the October 2010 Community Consultation of Good Faith for the Municipality of Santa Cruz del Quiché regarding the extraction and exploitation of natural goods and resources – suffered an attack by numerous armed men after she and other members of the CPK returned home from a peaceful protest in Santa Cruz del Quiché, Guatemala.
During the morning of the 4th, roughly 400 residents of Quiché, along with members of the CPK, carried out a peaceful protest denouncing local mayor Estuardo Castro’s continuous arrogance and his lack of respect for the people’s refusal to sell their lands to transnational corporations, as proved during the 2010 community consultation.
As the protesters passed the community of Xetinap Quinto, a group of men armed with machetes, sticks and knives intercepted members of the CPK and proceeded to chase and beat several of them. These armed men were particularly interested in recognized leader Lolita Chávez, as they called out her name, chased her, and did manage to injure her, but not seriously. Lolita received cuts and bruises but managed to escape. Nevertheless, three other women were hospitalized due to injuries.
Members of CPK claim the violence stems from a land dispute brewing with DEOCSA, the electric energy generation and distribution company. Mayor Castro has sided with DEOCSA while the CPK defends the communities’ rights to land.
This conflict has already claimed one victim. This past June 12th, José Tavico Tzunun, active member of the CPK, was shot dead outside his home in the community of Sibacá III in Santa Cruz del Quiché after receiving several threatening messages on his cell phone due to his activity with the CPK. Other members of the CPK have continually denounced death threats against them.
The attack on Lolita Chávez comes weeks after another female community leader, Yoli Oqueli, was shot after leading a peaceful resistance against a Canadian-owned gold mine. For more information on this case,click here.
For more information in Spanish, click here.
Lolita’s testimony, in Spanish, can be heard here.