Campesinos leaders report a wave of abuses against local indigenous peasants in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz since a “state of siege” was declared there in response to the alleged presence of Los Zetas narco-network. Officially, authorities have arrested 22 “traffickers,” and confiscated five small planes, 28 vehicles and 239 assault weapons. But the National Indigenous and Campesino Coordinator (CONIC) says army troops have invaded and occupied peasant villages where there has been no sign of drug trafficking.
The most egregious case was in the Q’eqchi Maya community of Se’ Job’ Che’ on Jan. 10, when soldiers seized the pueblo, manhandled residents and menaced them at gunpoint, fired in the air, and uprooted their legal food crops of corn, beans and cardamom. (Intercontinental Cry, Jan. 31; AlJazeera, Jan. 20; CONIC, Jan. 16)