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Guatemala: Peaceful protest against cement plant was attacked by paramilitaries allegedly linked to Cementos Progreso; co. responds

Indigenous Kaqchikel community in San Juan Sacatepequez protested against the installation of a Cementos Progreso’s plant in their territory, because of environmental concerns. While having a peaceful protest, a group of paramilitaries opened fire toward the protesters. Community authorities said that attackers might be linked to Cementos Progreso.

Business and Human Rights Resource Center invited Cementos Progreso to respond; the response is available below.

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Company response
16 July 2018

Cementos Progreso's Response

Author: Cementos Progreso

We regret the events…that were motivated by the unjustified and illegal blockades that for several months have affected the free movement of the residents of San Juan Sacatepéquez and the neighboring communities. Neither violence nor de facto actions are the way to solve problems. In the same way we see with concern the recent indications that have linked us to this situation, which we reject. These actions are contrary to our way of acting. Cementos Progreso…has worked on the values ​​of solidarity and transparency and we are convinced that acts contrary to these principles are not a good mechanism to convince or manifest the disagreement of one or more people and strongly condemn any action of this nature ... We firmly believe that the development of the country and the communities neighboring our operations is a shared task that requires dialogue, respect for the rights of the other and political will to make this possible. [This is an unofficial translation by Business & Human Rights Resource Center the original version in Spanish can be found here]

Article
4 July 2018

Guatemala: Indigenous Kaqchikel Protest Against Cement Plant Attacked by Paramilitaries

Author: TeleSur (Venezuela)

Twelve communities of San Juan Sacatepequez installed a blockade to prevent the construction of a regional ring road and stop a cement plant. A group of armed people wearing balaclavas attacked and threatened the indigenous Kaqchikel community in Santa Fe Ocaña in San Juan Sacatepequez...The attack is believed to be related to the construction of a cement plant in their territory, which the community opposes. About 70 people reportedly opened indiscriminate fire on the peaceful blockade…, injuring 17 persons including women and men. The attack is believed to have been carried out because the blockade prevented five construction trucks of Cementos Progreso from reaching their destination... While some are in favor of the developments, arguing it would bring economic growth to the region, others have questioned the environmental impact. Local authorities said…the attackers were allegedly identified as part of the Cruz Blanca village, which has close relations with the cement company, according to Waqinb' Kej, a Mayan national coordinator of indigenous struggles…In a visit on June 22, the Human Rights Prosecutor Jordan Rodas and the UN Human Rights High Commissioner verified Cementos Progreso's aggressive stance against the local communities and called for an end to violence in the area…

Read the full post here