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28 January 2016

Guatemala: Security Grant to Comité de Desarrollo Campesino - CODECA

CODECA is based in Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez, Guatemala. CODECA works on improving the situation of the rural poor in Guatemala, focusing on issues such as the wage conditions for farmers, land reform and nationalisation of electric energy in the country.

With relation to the impact on the security for the staff of CODECA this is what the organisation's representative Leiria Teresa Vay Garcia said to us:

“Previous to the grant being awarded we could not control who was entering and leaving the office. CODECA headquarters was insecure due to the poor state of its doors, wall and office space where anyone could enter. If the security cameras had not been installed on the exterior of the office building there would have been a greater risk of theft of vehicles (motorcycles and cars) during CODECA during meetings.”

“Staff now feel more secure - because they can see out of the metal screens what is happening inside and outside the office. In the long term staff feel that the grant will assist with the strengthening and growth of the organization, and the strengthening of the struggle for human rights.”

Prior to the grant being awarded staff of CODECA have been victim of a pattern of harassment and persecution. Staff have been victim of attempted kidnappings and two staff members had been kidnapped, in one case beaten and in another threatened before being released. Staff had been threatened by phone and by armed unidentified people and vehicles parked outside the premises during meetings had been stolen.

On 11 July 2012, human rights defender Mr Enrique Linares, also a member of CODECA, was shot dead in Zacapa in Guatemala.