Families from Polochic and peasant organizations. Photo: Oxfam

Three years after their eviction in Polochic Valley, 629 families are still waiting for justice

Though the Government of Guatemala has returned land to 140 families unjustly evicted from the Polochic Valley nearly three years ago -- thanks to your support! -- 629 families are still waiting for their land.

On the third anniversary of the evictions, it is urgent to push the Guatemalan government and its president, Otto Perez Molina, to fulfill their commitments and return the land to the families. Only 30 of the families have actually been able to return to their lands, and plant and harvest. All the other families are still without their land, three years later.

People power pushes the Government

On Saturday, 19 October 2013, the Government of Guatemala returned land titles to 140 families, out of the original 769 evicted in March 2011. This achievement was the product of Vamos al Grano campaign, the GROW Campaign, and 107,000 people from 55 countries in the world that joined forces to push for justice. Thank you to all the people and organizations involved!

President Otto Perez Molina personally delivered the title to the first 140 families. Attending the ceremony were representatives of all communities evicted from Polochic Valley, members of the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC), other social organizations and members of Oxfam. In addition, 600 titles to other communities that are not part of the group of families evicted were delivered during the event.

This success demonstrates the importance of local partnerships in order to achieve national change, while still working on global advocacy.

The fight is not over, as 629 families are still waiting for justice. We will continue to push the government to fulfill its commitment to a worthy and comprehensive resettlement for all 769 families evicted, ensuring dignified transfer, food assistance, housing, productive projects and education and health services.

What happened in Polochic Valley?

On Monday 22 April 2013, the evicted families of Polochic Valley handed over the petition to the Guatemalan Minister of Agriculture. The Government subsequently stated that it intended to remedy the situation. It declared that the demands made by the peasant farmer organizations from Polochic were not only valid and legitimate, but that it supported them.

The 769 families had been violently evicted in March 2011 from land where they had always lived.

A report published by the United Nations in Guatemala supports the main demands of the peasant organizations in the country, and calls on the Government to stop forced evictions until there is legislation on this issue. The report also calls on the Government to honor the commitments made to the Polochic peasant farmers.

Was Polochic a land grab?

The Polochic case is a clear example of land grabbing. Land grabbing is an increasingly widespread practice that, disguised as agricultural investment, gives rise to evictions, deceit, human rights violations, and the destruction of the livelihoods of vulnerable communities.

In response to the rise of land grabbing, Oxfam launched an international campaign calling on the World Bank to freeze its large land deals until stronger and fairer legal mechanisms to regulate them are established.

Thanks to your support, the World Bank has taken the first steps to ensure that events like those in Guatemala do not happen again.

Related links

Read the blog: 4 ways we spoke out together on land grabs – and 4 brilliant results

Read the report:‘Our Land, Our Lives’. Time out on the global land rush

Join the Grow campaign

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