You are here

Guatemalan Indigenous Communities Resist Mega Cement Factory Despite Military Occupation

By: 
Jeff Abbott

“No to this military and police encampment,” someone hastily scrawled in large white letters on the back of a sign welcoming visitors to the Kaqchikel community of Santa Fe Ocaña, a community in the municipality of San Juan Sacatepéquez, and one of the 12 communities in resistance to the construction of a mega-cement factory. The sign stood next to one of the many command tents of the Guatemalan National Civilian Police at the height of the state of exception and sums up the general feeling of the residents in this small hamlet, about an hour and a half from Guatemala City.

The residents of Santa Fe Ocaña, and the other Kaqchikel communities of San Juan Sacatepéquez have lived under a semi-permanent state of exception since September 2014, when the Guatemalan government declared a state of exception in the communities following a night of violence that led to the deaths of 11 community members in small town of Pajoques. The order was reportedly lifted on October 31, but the police and military remained, forming permanent encampments in the towns of Pajoques and Santa Fe Ocaña. The Guatemalan military also established a new military task force: Task Force San Juan Sacatepéquez.