Lolita Chavez, coordinator and co-founder of the K’iche People’s Counsel, was threatened when she was leaving the site of a peaceful protest in Santa Cruz del Quiche regarding discrimination and abuse of power by the mayor. K’iche People’s Council began reaching out to different communities to inform them about how the transnational development projects would impact their lands before the Council. The K’iche People’s Council has garnered support from 92 rural and urban communities, and also reaches out to Ladino people, who are of mixed indigenous and European ancestry, and many of whom have a long-standing prejudice against indigenous Guatemalans. On June 12, 2012, K’iche People’s Council member José Tavico Tzunun was found murdered in his home, with what Lolita and the Council believed was a police gun. K’iche identity refers to her ancestry as part of the largest ethnic subgroup of the Maya people, the majority of whom live in Guatemala’s Northwestern municipality, Santa Cruz del Quiché.
Antonio Catalán is an Investigator with the Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit (UDEFEGUA). UDEFEGUA works to promote the security of HRDs in Guatemala and helps protect the political space in which they work. The Unit’s programmes support threatened HRDs and their organisations and advise them about preventing and responding to threats and attacks, through information, training, monitoring and psychological support. PAQG has a long standing and important protection relationship with UDEFEGUA. PBI has had links with UDEFEGUA since its founding in 2004, and we have been providing direct accompaniment to Mr. Catalán and his colleagues since 2007.