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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Defending Community and Indigenous Rights in Guatemala

Friday, October 23, 2015 - 11:00am
2255 Rayburn House Office Building


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on defending community and indigenous rights in Guatemala.

During 2015, revelations of major cases of government corruption have sparked unprecedented civil society mobilizations throughout Guatemala. Citizens have come together across cultural boundaries to force the resignation of the country’s top leaders, resulting in a constitutionally-mandated transition government that now must manage upcoming runoff elections for president. Yet urgently needed social and economic reforms have yet to advance.

Guatemala continues to be marked by chronic problems of poverty, insecurity, and violence. As much as 60 percent of the country’s population of 14 million is indigenous, comprised of 25 linguistic communities including the Maya, Garífuna and Ximca peoples. Conflicts over land and natural resources are widespread; incursions by mining and agribusiness companies have displaced communities, increased food insecurity and resulted in human rights abuses, while those defending their communities have been subject to harassment and criminalization. Victims of human rights violations are often denied justice.

For the briefing, we will be joined by two well-known civil society leaders, one a community leader of indigenous heritage and the other a human rights defender who has accompanied communities in their defense of their land and natural resources. They will discuss the challenges they face when defending the rights of their communities, including threats and unfounded criminal charges.

Translation will be provided. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Rep. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or or Carson Middleton (for Rep. Pitts) at 202-225-2411 or

Hosted by:

James P. McGovern, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC
Joseph R. Pitts, M.C.
Co-Chairman, TLHRC


Opening Remarks

  • Rep. James P. McGovern, Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission
    Written remarks


  • Daniel Pascual, Maya Quiché, President of the Committee of Campesino Unity (CUC), Guatemala
    Written statement
  • Rafael Maldonado, Legal and Environmental Policy Director of the Center for Environmental and Social Legal Action (CALAS), Guatemala
    Written statement


  • Stephanie Burgos, Economic Justice Policy Manager, Oxfam America


114th Congress