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Gari-News » Good News in Guatemala?
Jun 20, 2004


El Maguey sits less than 20 miles south of sprawling Guatemala City, but it has been home to a fight for land that many associate with isolated indigenous communities. This rich 300 hectares has been worked and nurtured for many years by approximately ninety families, and the struggle culminated with a presidential decree (223-03) on April 9 2003 giving title of the land to those farmers and the community. Their celebration was a brief one however, as two days later an order from President Portillo nullified the decree and returned the land in question to the army. Apparently Portillo had forgotten that the land was under control of the military, so he quickly scrambled to reverse his decision.

With this the residents were evicted by the army and National Police, their homes and school flattened, and the people forced to the side of a dirt road, which soon became mud as the rainy season hit. For months the residents worked with C.U.C. and other national campesino organizations in hopes of having this Presidential order reversed; anxious to return to their waiting crops, without success. Meanwhile, the military -in a rather sinister move- leased out the land to allow cattle grazing, destroying much of what the families had built up over many years.


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