January 8 and 9, 2007. Part III of III.
Issue: Land / Mining / Indigenous Rights
Comunidad La Paz. Panzos, Alta Verapaz.
Once the eviction of residents in of Barrio La Revolucion was complete, the armed caravan moved further west into the municipality of Panzos, Department of Alta Verapaz. Similarly to how Barrio La Revolucion came about as an overflow community from nearby Chichipate Village, Comunidad La Paz can be considered an infant settlement from nearby Santa Maria Village.
Residents of Santa Maria Village are well aware about the potential of being the recipients of direct violence by employees of the mining project. Case number 9401, from the Commission for Historic Clarification (CEH), relates how in 1978, four members of Santa Maria were executed by military personnel working in conjunction with employees of the EXMIBAL mine. Nearly 30 years later, a large number of federal armed agents and employees of the mine once again entered the territories of local dwellers.
The negotiations to avoid the eviction looked promising at first, as community members presented documents which clearly stated they were in the middle of acquiring the territory legally from a third party who claimed ownership and is not affiliated with CGN. Public Prosecutor Escobar (right), however, who arrived in a helicopter owned by CGN, did not provide community members the benefit of the doubt and ordered the immediate eviction. It must be also stated that, as in La Union community, Mr. Escobar’s eviction order reflected a dubious ambiguity with regards to the geographic location stated in the eviction order and this particular lot.
As an additional argument, Public Prosecutor Escobar claimed that Comunidad La Paz was only used for growing crops and was actually uninhabited. Hence, community members should leave with all their belongings and clarify the status of their paperwork at a later time.
Throughout the terrain, however, living quarters with beds and recently used fire pits could be clearly found.
To no use, residents of La Paz argued most had removed their valuables as they were not sure if the eviction order would be carried out violently.
Having heard about the burning of homes in Barrio La Revolucion, local members opted for dismantling their own structures without the help of CGN employees and leave peacefully.
Versión en Español aquí.
In Japanese: 日本語で。