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  • Indigenous people take part in a protest against a bill that would grant amnesty to war crimes committed during country

    Indigenous people take part in a protest against a bill that would grant amnesty to war crimes committed during country's 36 year civil war outside the Congress, in Guatemala City, Guatemala March 13, 2019 | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 March 2019

Two leaders of the Movement for the Liberation of People (MLP) have been chosen to be candidates for the presidential election of the Republic of Guatemala to be held in June 2019.

Thelma Cabrera and Neftali Lopez Miranda were proclaimed candidates last Thursday for president and vice presidency by the Movement for the Liberation of People (MLP), the political arm of the Campesino Development Committee (Comité de Desarrollo Campesino, Codeca).

Party Aims to Recreate Guatemala as a Plurinational State

Thelma Cabrera, a prominent leader of Codeca and the MLP, is a human rights defender with Mayan Mam origins and who dedicated twenty-six years of her life to the MLP social movement.

In the assembly, she said that the struggle is for the people "who have been plundered for hundreds of years" and added that the fight against corruption will continue.

"I did not intend to be a candidate for the presidency. As Indigenous people are not listened to through social movements, we decided to create a party. Through my human rights defense experience, this opportunity came about and the assembly chose me as a candidate. I accepted this challenge and I am committed to proposing something different through this political instrument - the MLP party, "said Cabrera.

Thelma Cabrera says the MLP is more of a “political instrument” than a “political party” because it emanates from community assemblies made up of Garifuna, Xinca, Maya and Mestizo peoples fighting for their most basic rights without a boss.

Lopez Miranda explained that Cabrera's statement expemplifies the lack of division and "machismo," in the group, which makes her consider the political platform as having a politically successful launch.

MLP’s main objectives are lowering public officials’ salaries and removing parliamentary immunity; the nationalization of privatized services, recovery of lands, territories and water for human consumption; and the creation of a Popular and Plurinational Constituent Assembly in order to create a plurinational state with autonomous Indigenous regions.

Motivation for building a plurinational state comes from the experience of Indigenous peoples during the nearly 200 years of existence of the Republic of Guatemala. Cabrera explained: “They keep us like slaves, they keep us on our knees, if we defend our rights, we are called terrorists, if we defend the mother Earth, they offer us bullets, if we protest, they call us thugs.” 

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