Protecting the lives of the Maya Q’eqchi’ leaders and advocates is central for the work of the Indian Law Resource Center. Land-related conflicts have marked the relationship that the Q’eqchi’ communities have with governmental security forces and mining companies’ security personal. These communities have faced several attempts to forcibly evict them from their traditional lands to make way for nickel exploration and exploitation activities. These attempts were illegal because they either lacked an eviction order issued by a court or were not enforced by the proper authority. In most cases, the mining company’s security personnel have engaged with Guatemala’s police and military forces. There were even attempts of evictions led by the governor of El Estor supported by the mining company without any court order.
To help bring an end to intimidation tactics such as forced evictions, burning of Q’eqchi’ families’ homes, and even murder, the Center asked for help from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect the Agua Caliente Lote 9 Community’s leader, attorney and their families. We also ensured protection for key members of Defensoria Q’eqchi’, a local non-governmental indigenous organization that supports the Maya Q’eqchi’ communities of El Estor. We continue to monitor developments in El Estor to document new threats against these communities, leaders and advocates and will seek further protection if necessary to save their lives.