Thursday, May 15, 2014

Press Release: Mayan councils express deep concern over UNPFII announcement

May 15, 2014

Western Highlands, Guatemala – The Maya Mam Council of Quetzaltenango and the Maya Mam Council of Huehuetenango express deep concern regarding the recent press release issued by CACIF and FUNDESA announcing an alliance of “Ancestral Maya Indigenous Authorities and Business Leaders from Guatemala” at the Thirteenth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  The Thirteenth Session focusing on “Principles of good governance consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: articles 3 to 6 and 46” offers a critical and necessary space, through legitimate authorities, to address conflicts and power dynamics related to natural resources and indigenous peoples. Therefore, the Maya Mam Councils of Quetzaltenango and Huehuetenango call on the Permanent Forum to have a process to provide “serious verification to check the representativeness and legitimacy of the participants, especially when it relates to indigenous peoples and indigenous nationalities.”

According to CACIF President Mr. Hermann Girón, “the presence of this delegation sends a powerful message that there is great interest to work together for the good of the country.” The historical and current context of Guatemala demonstrate that development has and continues to be imposed on indigenous peoples in a manner that does not respect the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous, the ILO Convention No. 169, and Guatemala’s own Constitution.  The victims of development projects such as the Chixoy Dam, Marlin Mine, Hydro Santa Rita, Hidro Santa Cruz, Cementos Progreso, El Escobal Mine and others, are proof that Guatemala continues to lag behind when it comes to a human rights framework to development that is truly inclusive of a “multicultural Guatemala.”

Members of the Maya Mam Nation Council and the Plurinational Council of Maya Peoples (CPO) recently contributed to an article in the Americas Quarterly Spring Issue, a special edition on The Perils and Promise of Consulta Previa.  In their article, “A View from Indigenous Peoples”, they expressed some of their concerns related to imposed development in Guatemala because it is necessary that the original peoples of Guatemala speak for themselves. They wanted to share the thinking and decision-making process of indigenous peoples related to development.

Lastly, we want to make clear that we are not opposed to development – our position has and continues to be that any development that disregards legitimate authorities to make decisions over our lands, territories and natural resources, creates social conflict and division, harms the health and well-being of our peoples and our mother earth is not the type of development that we want or support.

For further questions or media inquiries related to any of the attached statements from indigenous peoples and the article, “A View from Indigenous Peoples”, please contact Juanita Cabrera Lopez, Member of the Maya Mam Nation Council, at

 “A View from Indigenous Peoples”:

About the Authors:
Mash-Mash and José Guadalupe Gómez are members of the Maya Mam Nation Council and the Plurinational Council of the Maya Peoples (CPO).
Media Contact:
Juanita Cabrera Lopez, Maya Mam
Member, Maya Mam Nation Council
Member, Plurinational Council of the Maya Peoples (CPO)


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