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Eugenio López y López

HRD & Member
San Gregorio Piedra Parada estate former workers' movement

Eugenio López y López was a member of San Gregorio Piedra Parada estate former workers' movement. The movement was created in 2008 when it emerged that the estate had never paid social security for its 260 workers in spite of its obligation to do so. The movement has struggled since its creation to bring justice to the workers who spent more than 30 years working in the estate and had their labour rights violated.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Guatemala are subjected to death threats, physical attacks, acts of harassment, surveillance, stigmatisation, judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, forced disappearance and killings. Many of the violations are carried out by clandestine security structures and illegal groups. The exceptionally high level of impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators increases the risk exponentially for HRDs.

A serious issue is the unfair use of criminal proceedings in order to prevent HRDs from carrying out their legitimate human rights activities. Many criminal proceedings are launched by private companies (often backed by European and North American governments) related to the mining sector and the construction of dams, spuriously accusing HRDs of crimes such as acts of terrorism, usurpation of land, kidnappings and others. As part of the criminalisation process, campaigns of defamation and stigmatisation have been carried out by both state and non-state actors, particularly transnational companies and right-wing media publications. State authorities continue to publish statements and press releases in which they publicly incriminate HRDs on unverified charges.