Once Upon A Time-Land: Struggles of the Maya Q'eqchi of Guatemala
The story of the Mayan Q’eqchi women and men of Northern Guatemala is one of a proud and marginalized people, many of whom have been violently forced from their land to make way for cattle ranching, African palm plantations and other mega-development projects. These humble people—who depend on LAND for their livelihood and whom from this LAND derive a sense of place—are being driven from their homes to make way for private interests whose profits will never reach them.
I work with a community empowerment program based in the San Francisco Bay Area that supports grassroots struggles in Mexico and Guatemala. The struggles of these people has taught me more about the realities of life, politics, power, and marginalization than any text book ever could have.
Recently, yet one more Q’eqchi village was forcibly evicted by government officials who claimed to have jurisdiction over the territory. After an official declaration delivered in hollow tones, troops were sent in to raze the homes in the “target zones,” zone containing modest structures, structures made of cardboard and tin, sticks and palm branches, modest structures that these women called home.
Despite the angry outcry of these women who wanted nothing more than to rest at night knowing that there was land for planting maize, beans and chile to feed their families, the authorities leveled their homes, and instructed the incensed community members to vacate the area; they would need to find a new place to live.