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María Magdalena Cuc Choc

HRD & Community Leader

María Magdalena Cuc Choc, is a woman human rights defender and community leader of the Maya-Q’eqchi’ peoples in eastern Guatemala. The defender is the sister of Angelica Choc and Ramiro Choc, and the sister-in-law of the late Adolfo Ich, murdered in 2009 by the private security agents of Hudbay Minerals and Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel - CGN. Since 2004, she has played a vital role in documenting and denouncing environmental harms, human rights violations and repression caused by a series of legally-connected Canadian mining companies. María has worked particularly closely with the remote, mountain community of Lote 8 that was burned and destroyed in 2007 as part of an illegal eviction on behalf of the Canadian companies. During the destruction and eviction, 11 women were gang-raped by company security guards, soldiers and police. María accompanied some of them to Canada in 2012 as they participated in the precedent setting lawsuits against Hudbay Minerals, for the gang-rapes, the killing of Adolfo Ich and the shooting paralyzing of German Chub.

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.