EMERGENCY NETWORK

Guatemala: Peasant leader and his children murdered in Zacapa

Friday 2 March 2007 by LRAN

Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform

On February 6, 2007 the peasant leader Israel Carías Ortiz and his children Robin Aroldo Ramírez, 11 years old, and Luswin Alexis Ramírez, 9 years old, were murdered at around 10:30, when they were going from Zacapa to the community of Los Achiotes. Israel Carías Ortiz was a local leader in the Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC) and in the Peasant Association for Development "Los Achiotes" (ACIDEA). The assassinations are considered to be related to the land conflict over the estate Potrero de Aceituna, located in the village of Los Achiotes, municipality of Zacapa.

In the light of this situation, an international action is needed to urge the Government of Guatemala to investigate the crime, ensure protection to the community and peasants leaders and search for a solution to the agrarian conflict. Please, write a letter to the Vice President of Guatemala, with copy to the attorney general and to the Committee of the Peasant Union.

Background

For many years, the 80 families that make up the Peasant Association Los Achiotes have demanded through the Attorney’s General Office that the State of Guatemala gives them back the 988 hectares of land, which belong to the State since November 20, 1951, thelegal interest being registered in the corresponding property public record.

The Attorney’s General Office states that the estate Potrero de Aceituna is national land, and has therefore taken different measures to recover this land in favour of the Nation. This means that private cattle growers, who have taken over the land illegally, will have to give way and respect the rights of the Nation. Recently, the procedures for the land measurement have been carried out, and according to the latest information, theland could be handed over to the peasant community of Los Achiotes within few months.

In the last months, tensions between cattle growers and the community have increased.

Specifically, local leaders of the Association were threatened, among them Israel Carías and the regional leader form the CUC, Abelardo Roldán. FIAN knew Israel and this case since 2001, and strongly condemns the assassination of Israel and his sons Robin y Luswin.

Mandate of the Emergency Network

Guatemala is Party State to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Therefore, theState has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights enshrined in these two covenants, particularly the right to food and the right to life and physical integrity.

End of action: 01.04.2007

Addresses:
Copies to:

Dr. Eduardo Stein
Vice President of the Republic
Casa Presidencial
6ª avenida 4-19, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatamala
Guatemala
Fax: +502-2253 0801
+502-2238 0106

Lic. Juan Luis Florido

Attorney General of the Republic
Ministerio Público
15 av. 15-16, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala
Guatemala
Fax +502-2411 9124
+502-2411 9326

Daniel Pascual
General Coordinator
Committee of the Peasant Union
Apartado Postal 1002-01901 Correo Central
Ciudad de Guatemala
Guatemala
Email: cuc2@intelnet.net.gt cuc@guate.net

Please, keep FIAN informed of any response you might receive.


Translation of the proposed letter:

Honourable Vice President,

I am writing to you to express my indignation at the murder of the peasant leader Israel
Carías Ortiz and his children Robin Aroldo Ramírez, 11 years old, and Luswin Alexis Ramírez, 9 years old. The crime took place on February 6, 2007 at around 10:30, when they were going from Zacapa to the community of Los Achiotes. Israel Carías Ortiz was a local leader in the Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC) and in the Peasant Association for Development "Los Achiotes" (ACIDEA). The assassinations are considered to be related to the land conflict over the estate Potrero de Aceituna, located in the village of Los Achiotes, municipality of Zacapa.

According to my information, the 80 families that make up the Peasant Association Los
Achiotes have demanded through the Attorney’s General Office that the State of Guatemala gives them back the 988 hectares of land, which belong to the State since November 20, 1951. The Attorney’s General Office states that the estate Potrero de Aceituna is national land, and has therefore taken different measures to recover this land in favour of the Nation. This has led to the increase of tensions between cattle growers and the community. Specifically, local leaders of the Association were threatened, among them Israel Carías and the regional leader form the CUC, Abelardo Roldán.

Guatemala is Party State to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Therefore, the State has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights enshrined in these two covenants, particularly the right to life and physical integrity and the right to food.

I would therefore like to ask you, Honourable Vice President, to adopt adequate and immediate measures in order to:


- Clarify the murder of Israel Carías Ortiz and his children and prosecute theprincipals in the first degree and the abettors

- Protect the community and the regional leader of the CUC against any threat or harassment

- Give as soon as possible the estate Portrero de Aceituna to the peasant community Los Achiotes.

Yours sincerely,


Dr. Eduardo Stein

Vicepresidente de la República
Casa Presidencial
6ª avenida 4-19, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatamala
Guatemala

Estimado Sr. Vicepresidente,

Le saludo atentamente para expresarle mi indignación por el asesinato del dirigente
campesino Israel Carías Ortiz y de sus hijos Robin Aroldo Ramírez, de 11 años, y Luswin Alexis Ramírez, de 9 años. El crimen ocurrió el 6 de febrero de 2007 aproximadamente a las 10:30 horas en el camino de Zacapa a la comunidad de los Achiotes. Israel Carías Ortíz fue dirigente local del Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC) y de la Asociación Campesina Integral de Desarrollo Los Achiotes (ACIDEA). Se considera que los asesinatos se enmarcan en el conflicto por la tierra de la Finca Potrero de Aceituna, aldea de los Achiotes, municipio de Zacapa.

Según mis informaciones, las 80 familias que conforman la Asociación Campesina Los Achiotes, han solicitado al Estado de Guatemala por medio de la Procuraduría General de la Nación, recuperar esta finca de 988 hectáreas que desde el 20 de noviembre de 1951pertenece al Estado. La Procuraduría General de la Nación afirma que la Finca Potrero deAceituna es tierra nacional, por lo que ha realizado gestiones para recuperarla a favor de la nación. En este contexto, las amenazas de los ganaderos locales contra la comunidad se han incrementado en los últimos meses. En particular, fueron amenazados los dirigentes locales de la Asociación, entre ellos Israel Carías y el dirigente regional del CUC, Abelardo Roldán.

Guatemala es Estado Parte del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales como también del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos, por lo que ha asumido la obligación de respetar, proteger y garantizar los derechos consagrados en estos dos tratados, en particular el derecho a la vida, a la integridad de la persona y el derecho a la alimentación.

En este sentido, le solicito, Sr. Vicepresidente, adoptar las medidas apropiadas e inmediatas para lograr:

- El esclarecimiento de los asesinatos de Israel Carías Ortíz y sus hijos, y la persecución penal de sus autores materiales e intelectuales;

- La protección de la comunidad y del dirigente regional del CUC contra cualquier tipo de amenaza u hostigamiento;

- La pronta entrega de la Finca Portrero de Aceituna a favor de la comunidad campesina de Los Achiotes.

Atentamente,

La Vía Campesina

International Operative Secretariat
Jalan Mampang Prapatan XIV No 5
Jakarta Selatan 12790, Jakarta - Indonesia
Tel +62 21 7991890
Fax +62 21 7993426
viacampesina@viacampesina.org
viacampesina@viacampesina.org

Contact for the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform:
viacampesina_cgra@amnettgu.com
Tel: +504 235 9915 //+504 232 2198

FIAN
International Secretariat
P.O. Box 10 22 43
D - 69012 Heidelberg - Germany
Tel + 49 6221 65300 30
Fax +49 6221 830545

fian@fian.org


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