This Land is Ours
The western hemisphere’s bloodiest armed conflict in the twentieth century left over 200,000 victims, most of them indigenous civilians in rural Guatemala. Post-war processes after the 1996 Peace Accords have been slow to implement and have not coped with the harrowing legacy of violence after a 36-year brutal war.
Land tenure can be singled out as the principal motive for the internal war. Indigenous Mayan communities, who make up roughly 60 percent of the country’s population, have maintained a cultural and territorial resistance over generations that have continually clashed with the small but powerful political and economic sectors in the country who have used the Army and Police to forcefully implement their projects.
Post-war Guatemala, currently the fifth most violent country in the world, is once again living similar patterns of repression by State forces that dangerously resemble the war years. Unrelenting foreign and domestic interests in extractive projects, particularly metal mining and hydroelectric power, are dangerously polarizing a fragile society struggling to deal with its recent past.