Guatemaya: Eco-tourism, carbon dioxide sanctuaries and military displacement of 5,000 people
Peasant Community Evicted from Parque Nacional Laguna del Tigre
Laguna Larga, San Andres, Peten
Photos: Irving Mondragon
Text: Nakay R. Flotte
On night of June 1st, the community of Laguna Larga, San Andrés, Petén was evicted by
more than 5,000 members of the National Civil Police, Guatemala’s National Army, the
Special Jungle Operations Brigade (Beos, Personnel of the Protection of Nature Division
(Diprona) and the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP). According to the Public
Prosecutor for Environmental Crimes and in accordance with a federal judge from the
Narcotics and Environmental Crimes court created, the border community was accused of
illegal settlement in the protected area. According to regional director CONAP of Petén
department, the inhabitants of Laguna Larga have “invaded” a piece of land within the
Laguna del Tigre National Park in the Maya Biosphere Reserve for the last five years.
However, the farming community claims to have lived here for over 17 years. Local
testimonies say that CONAP refused to talk to them to reach an agreement that will
regulate their village and plans to divest other 18 communities present in the Maya
Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala. This institution had issued regulatory documents for the
community in 2004 and after having decreed to the peasant community as “invaders”,
they themselves have violated their own documents.
The spoils are connected to foreign and transnational interests to create luxurious
eco-tourist complexes, as well as to maintain certain areas of the Peten as carbon dioxide
sanctuaries. The repressive measures with which the community of Laguna Larga was
expelled will be used to evict the La Mestiza community, scheduled on the 14th of this
The current situation is critical and precarious for the more the 500+ people who are
stranded on the border line between Guatemala and Mexico.
Having been stripped, they left behind harvest, animals and fled with a few belongings.
The present rain has made the supply of food even more laborious and has worsened the
sanitary conditions of the place. Children present symptoms of influenza, gastritis,
diarrhea and malnutrition Three pregnant women are close to giving birth, awaiting the
arrival of a health brigade. The community is living in a temporary camp made with tarpas,
sticks and aluminum sheets exposed to the inclemency of the climate located four
kilometers from the town of El Desengaño, Campeche.
During the afternoon of June 7, representatives of the INM, Grupo Beta, CNDH,
Campeche State Municipal Police, as well as the Guatemalan consulate in Tenosique,
Tabasco, met to find an agreement. Beta Group director Jorge Vázquez Oropeza reports
that no agreement has yet been reached, but reiterates that the decision on the
settlement should be taken mainly by the Government of Guatemala
The community of Laguna Larga are grateful for the attention received from Mexico and
hope that a resolution is found soon. They demand:
● The Laguna Larga community demands restoration of damages after having lost
their crops, their animals and their homes, which have been burned and / or
dismantled with chainsaws and axes.
● The community calls on international institutions to provide them with health
services as quickly as possible.
● The Laguna Larga community demands international assistance to monitor their
situation with dignity and justice.
In the event of a negative response by the Guatemalan Government, peasant families
expect their application to be approved collectively for all members of the community.
They have rejected their temporary relocation to a shelter since they want to continue
harvesting their products and raising their animals in the jungle region.
“In our faces we feel happy, but the pain inside is great.”