Hundreds of Campesinos Resist Eviction in Guatemala-Mexico Border Encampment

6 June 2017
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Guatemalan families face a violent eviction as they fled violence in their own homes.

At least 120 campesino families from Guatemala have installed a makeshift camp at the border between the Central American and Mexico as they fear a violent eviction from the army.

The families, together amounting to about 700 people, have set up an occupation in the municipality of Candelaria, in Campeche, after being displaced from their homes in the San Andres community in Laguna Larga, Guatemala. They were removed by force from their land as part of large eviction by police and military forces. Fearing further violence, the families fled to the border with Mexico.

Mexican authorities, including members of the Migration National Institute, as well as a representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, have reportedly visited the camp to speak to the villagers and seek international help. 

This comes as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto arrived Monday to Guatemala for a state visit with President Jimmy Morales to discuss different topics including migration. The two countries share a traditionally porous land border of almost 1,000 kilometers, though Mexico has been ramping up security in the south in recent years as part of a U.S.-backed strategy to deter undocumented immigrants from making the trek through the country to the United States. 

Representatives of the Guatemalan government and the Human Rights Commission of that country said they had offered the campesinos a temporary shelter so they can discuss their needs, but their offer was turned down, as the evicted Guatemalans consider it a trap.

Human rights organizations have asked the governments of Mexico and Guatemala to respect the commitments and obligations for asylum and refugee protection in accordance with local and international treaties and laws.

The have also reported that among the 700 people at the camp are a majority of children, women and seniors who face a humanitarian emergency, as they live in 35 poorly built tents and without adequate access to food and medical care.

According to Mexico's La Jornada, Mexican authorities have threatened to deport the campesinos if they leave their camps.