“Sons and Daughters of the Earth”: Indigenous communities and land grabs in Guatemala
April 2013, Land & Sovereignty Brief No. 1
In the last ten years, the expansion of corporate sugarcane and oil palm plantations in northern Guatemala has increasingly encroached on the lands of Maya Q’eqchi’ indigenous people. These plantations have already displaced hundreds of families-even entire communities-leading to increased poverty, hunger, unemployment and landlessness in the region. The companies grabbing land are controlled by European-descendent Guatemalan oligarchs who are benefitting from rising global commodity prices for food, animal feed and fuel. They are also supported by heavy investments from international lending institutions. In the face of violent dispossession and incorporation into an exploitative labor regime, many peasant families are struggling to access land and defend their resources as the basis of their collective identity as Q’eqchi’ peoples or R’al Ch’och (“sons and daughters of the earth”). This brief is the first in the Land & Sovereignty in the Americas series, co-published by Food First and the Transnational Institute.
In the face of violent dispossession and incorporation into an exploitative labor regime, indigenous peasant families in northern Guatemala are struggling to access land and defend their resources as the basis of their collective identity as R’al Ch’och or “sons and daughters of the earth.”
About the series:
The Land & Sovereignty in the Americas series pulls together research and analysis from activists and scholars working to understand and halt the alarming trend in “land grabbing”—from rural Brazil and Central America to US cities like Oakland and Detroit- and to support rural and urban communities in their efforts to protect their lands as the basis for self-determination, food justice and food sovereignty. The series—which includes short issue briefs and books—is a project of the Land & Sovereignty in the Americas (LSA) activist-researcher collective, coordinated by Food First. For media inquiries about this series, or to arrange an interview with an author, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 654-4400, ext. 234.
About the author:
Alberto Alonso-Fradejas is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, Netherlands.