On Tuesday, Indigenous peoples, farmers, human rights defenders, and environmental activists took to the streets of Guatemala City to reject racism and land grabs.
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"The Guatemalan State perpetuates the Colonial era violence and discrimination. It has not been able to turn off our dreams,” Mayan leader Andrea Ixchiu stated and urged Guatemalans to promote the foundation of a plurinational State that respects the rights of all citizen.
Carrying flags of the Maya, Xinka, Garifuna, and Ladino peoples, protesters marched from the Independence Heroes Monument to the Constitutional Square, where they commemorated the resistance to mining, hydroelectric, and agricultural projects imposed on their territories without their consent.
"Despite our demands, President Alejandro Giammattei has done nothing to prevent the massive evictions requiered by the neoliberal, extractivist model," Ixchiu stated, recalling that companies take over Indigenous territories through shady, coercive, and illegal measures.
The protesters also criticized Giammattei for purchasing COVID-19 vaccines through intermediary companies rather than through pharmaceutical companies or governments.
"Giammattei enjoys what no Guatemalan administration has had: abundant money justified by the health crisis," journalist Edgar Gutierrez condemned and stressed that his mismanagement of the pandemic has increased social inequalities.
Currently, 59 percent of Guatemalans live in poverty and almost 50 percent of the children born suffer from malnutrition. The severity of the crisis is also reflected in the fact that 50 percent of citizens and 80 percent of Indigenous peoples live in poverty.
“This situation makes Indigenous people vulnerable to COVID-19 since they do not have the resources to purchase masks, disinfectants, and essential medicines,” the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) denounced.