Defend Indigenous Activist and Free Speech in Guatemala
An Indigenous small farmer and movement leader in Guatemala is facing legal attacks by the privileged son of a former minister under the Montt dictatorship. Our partner the Peasant Unity Committee (CUC) is asking people of conscience to pressure the Supreme Court of Justice to defend an important activist in their movement.
Check out this interview with Daniel from People's Dispatch.
In January 2013, Daniel Pascual Hernández, CUC General Coordinator, spoke out on television about an assassination attempt against him and the role of right-wing groups. That June, Ricardo Mendez Ruiz of the misnamed Foundation Against Terrorism filed charges against Daniel for slander and defamation. As Maya k’iche’ and a rural organizer, Daniel has faced racism, evictions and death threats just for standing up for the Indigenous poor. Months after Daniel’s statement, Ricardo Mendez Ruiz, a privileged son of a former general and interior minister, whose father aided in the murder of as many as 75,000 people, filed a lawsuit against Daniel claiming “injury” of character. Even though the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended the legal process in 2016; the case was reactivated in 2019 and the corresponding court trial began on January 14, 2020. This is why we need you to speak out for free speech and human rights today.
We know free speech is the cornerstone of any democracy. We also know that the powerful, whether in the U.S. or Guatemala, have the courts and the media on their side. When they go unchallenged, they can slander or attack whomever they want.
Guatemala’s elites recognize CUC’s strength. They are targeting Daniel’s voice to silence the whole movement. But if we come together across borders, we can free him. We can ensure free speech is not just for the rich and powerful, but a critical tool for Guatemalan movements — those who are building a world where Indigenous small farmers, the planet, and regular people are put before profit.