The final 11 political prisoners from the Indigenous Community of Jutiapa were released from prison on Monday, October 7 after spending three weeks in jail without appearing before a judge, violating their constitutional rights. The other five prisoners-four elderly men and one woman-were released after one and two weeks, respectively. All were arraigned on charges relating to the September 17 incident when the community tried to retake their headquarters after the building was broken into and occupied by community members looking to take power by illegal means. The 16 are set to appear in court in early January.
The conflict stems from the imposition of a public-private partnership to install a “technological corridor” or a highway which will connect mega-projects in Eastern Guatemala which will cut through communal land of the Xinka people in Jutiapa.
In a statement, community leaders stated, “The 16 heros follow in the example of the 111 men who suffered to recover our communal land 360 years ago. Now, history has been repeated. They were jailed after committing no crime, but for defending what is ours, which is threatened by state institutions and people who do not have Xinka blood in their veins, begging for the crumbs of transnational companies.”