Evicted and Abandoned Trece Aguas Community

What is affected
Land Private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 01 May 2004
Region LAC [ Latin America/Caribbean ]
Country Guatemala
Location Trece Aguas

Affected persons

Total 450
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Details Forced Resettlement of Tibetans through Comfortable Housing Program.htm
Forced eviction

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Zhou Zhengyi, Chen Liangjun, District Government Officials
Brief narrative Evicted and abandoned: the case of Trece Aguas community \r\n\r\nIn May 2004, 90 Q’eqchi indigenous families were violently evicted from their homes in the Trece Aguas farm. They were all born on the farm, as were many of their parents and grandparents, and were employed to work the land. The majority of those evicted now live in abject poverty in nearby towns. With no land to grow crops, the community depend on food handouts from the local church, local municipal governments and surrounding communities. \r\n\r\n I watched them burn my home. Elena Caal Shal\r\n\r\nOn 19 May 2004 between 500 and 700 police officers and some 50 of the Trece Aguas farm’s private security guards evicted 90 families from the Trece Aguas farm. No prior notification was given. Witnesses say that seven former workers were wounded, including 85-year-old Marcos Choc Choc who later died from an injury to his head, allegedly sustained during the eviction. Two police officers were also reportedly wounded. Another former worker, Eric Cucul Caal (below), bears scars on his face and hand from when the police allegedly targeted tear gas canisters at members of the community. They watched as their houses, including their belongings and reserves of maize, were set alight. Their crops of chillies, pumpkins and cardamom were also destroyed.\r\n\r\nCaption\r\nEric Cucul Caal was one of seven Q’eqchi indigenous campesinos injured as they were violently evicted from their homes on the Trece Aguas farm in May 2004. © AI\r\n\r\nWomen and children bear the brunt\r\nApproximately 12 women were pregnant at the time of the eviction. Olga Choc Cac had given birth to her baby boy, Mario Enrique Choc L?pez, only three days before the eviction. \r\n\r\nAnother woman, Manuela Cul Cucul, was reportedly in labour during the eviction and was forced to leave her bed by police. With no crops to sell, the evicted families have no money to buy even the most basic medicine for their children.\r\n\r\nCaption\r\nChildren in a disused market hall in Panzos, their home since they were evicted in May 2004. © AI\r\n\r\nHomeless, hungry and nowhere to go\r\nFollowing the eviction, the 90 families were transported in 45 trucks, paid for and organized by the farm owner, to different parts of the country. One group was dropped off in Guatemala city, some 150km from their home. The majority of the families now live in a disused market hall and municipal hall in nearby towns.\r\n\r\nWith no land to cultivate crops, they rely on hand-outs for food.\r\n\r\nHistory of violence \r\nThe history of evictions and human rights violations under the current owner at the Trece Aguas farm is not new. The UN-sponsored report on human rights violations during the internal armed conflict (1960-96) documented cases of killing and torture of Trece Aguas workers carried out by security forces in 1982 at the request of the farm owner. Campesinos have continued to denounce intimidation at regular intervals. In February 2002 they denounced to the President of Congress that the farm owner had threatened to make their community leaders disappear. \r\n\r\nAbandoned by their employer and the state \r\nIn March 2001, 500 workers who had cultivated coffee on the farm since the 1970s were made redundant. They were told to leave the homes they had lived in for generations. In addition to being paid significantly less than the minimum wage, they had never been paid what are referred to as labour entitlements, legal entitlements which include annual bonuses, paid holidays and redundancy payment. Instead of paying his former workers the unpaid labour entitlements – which amounted to approx US$150,000 – the farm owner offered them a different area of land, which according to the families was of poor quality. Some 410 families accepted, allegedly because of intimidation from the owner. Ninety families stayed in the area, claiming their right to live on the land to which they had developed a deep spiritual attachment and had lived
Costs €   0