Guatemalan security forces raided four Indigenous community radio stations from Totonicapan Wednesday and arrested the Maya K’iche’ journalists Antonia Silvina Lopez Chaj and Ana Juliana Gonzalez Pastor, accused of “robbery.”
More than 30 police cars converged during the raid on members of the Council of Community Radios of Totonicapan, knocking down doors, and destroying and confiscating equipment during a 15-minute operation.
The targeted stations broadcasted the “La mirada de los pueblos” (The Peoples’ View) radio show, produced by the Council of the Mayan People-Council of the Peoples of the West (CPO), which aims to promote critical consciousness regarding problems that affect the Indigenous peoples of Guatemala.
Authorities drove around with Lopez and Gonzalez, raising uncertainty about their destination and disorienting their families and support communities. They weren’t informed about the motive of their arrest until hours later while detained at the Totonicapan Preventive Center.
The CPO denounced the raids and the arrests, calling the acts a violation of freedom of speech and the rights of Indigenous peoples.
“This is another case of criminalization and repression of the State toward the individual and collective rights of the Indigenous peoples and a clear violation of freedom of speech and expression of the peoples,” the CPO declared in a press release. “The criminal persecution is one of the strongest strategies used by the State, colluded with private companies, aimed at silencing the voice of communities and peoples.”
The CPO called on other regional councils to stay alert and organized to defend their rights against the State’s criminal persecution and their media allies that aim to remain the only sources for information while silencing the Indigenous peoples.