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  HOME | Central America

Security Guards Kill 1 Indian, Wound 5 Others in Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY – An Indian was killed and five others wounded by private security guards at a sugar refinery in northern Guatemala, a peasant rights group said.

The incident occurred Saturday in the Polochic Valley, where a number of Indians were shot at by private guards, the Committee for Peasant Unity, or CUC, said.

“Members of the private security unit at the Chabil Utzaj sugar refinery opened fire on a group of Indians from Canlun Village who were working lands of the Tzalamila cooperative,” the CUC said.

The guards killed 34-year-old Oscar Reyes, the CUC said, adding that three of the wounded Indians are in serious condition with gunshot wounds to the head.

The CUC was founded in the late 1970s by Vicente Menchu, father of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, as a means of resistance against the military repression of peasants.

Vicente Menchu was burned to death on Jan. 31, 1980, along with another 36 people when the military set fire to the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala, which had been occupied by peasants and students to protest government repression and the theft of their lands.

The CUC said in a communique that the attack in Polochic Valley was perpetrated by 30 private security guards.

On March 15 of this year, police and soldiers made a previous attempt to expel peasants from that area of Alta Verapaz, which led to a clash that left one peasant dead.

Three weeks after that attempted expulsion, the BCIE, Central America’s regional development bank, authorized a $20 million loan to rebuild a sugar refinery there.

The sugar refinery belongs to the family of the wife of former President Oscar Berger, who governed Guatemala from 2004 to 2008, but Indians and peasants moved into that region a year ago because they had no lands and most were displaced persons or survivors of the 1960-1996 civil war. EFE
 

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