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News > Latin America

Ombudsman: Guatemalan Government 'Indifferent' to Indigenous, Campesino Murders

  • The rise in attacks and threats against Indigenous Guatemalans is related to conflicts over land.

    The rise in attacks and threats against Indigenous Guatemalans is related to conflicts over land. | Photo: EFE

Published 22 June 2018

In one month eight Indigenous and Campesino leaders were murdered. 

Guatemala’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Jordan Rodas, highlighted President Jimmy Morales’ “indifference” to the wave of murders against Indigenous and Campesino social leaders in the country Thursday.

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According to Rodas in less than a month eight social leaders have been murdered, and neither the president nor the Interior Minister, Enrique Degenhart, have taken action to ensure their security or to listen to their concerns.  

Rodas remarks were made in a short press conference after he had decided to abandon a meeting with Degenhart due to the latter’s unwillingness to meet the representatives of the targeted organizations that accompanied Rodas.

The representatives accompanying Rodas were from the Campesino Committee of the High Plateau and the Committee of Campesino Unity. Leaders of both organizations have been recently killed.    

The canceled meeting was scheduled after the ombudsman made an official request to the president on June 11.

Rodas told local media that 15 minutes before the meeting started he was asked to go to the meeting alone and when he refused the meeting was canceled. The unwillingness to meet with the victims is “a total disrespect… and attitude of arrogance,” Rodas said.

In May, when at least three social leaders were murdered, the United Nations urged the Guatemalan government to “investigate the murders and other attacks and threats against human rights defenders, and to guarantee that those responsible are taken to justice.”  

Another organization currently under threat is the Committee of Campesino Development (Codeca), whose member Luis Marroquin was murdered in May.

The organization said that Jimmy Morales was responsible for the murder “because he has publicly incited hate and resentment in his speeches.”

Codeca has called for Morales to resign after corruption scandals.

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