Guatemalan people: 'We will not be quiet'

Issue 

"We have not been quiet, and we will not be quiet", about abuses of human rights in Guatemala, Walter Felix Lopez, member of National Congress for the Guatemalan National Revolutionary Group (URNG), told a public forum of 30 people on September 5.

His tour of Australia is being organised by the Committee for Human Rights in Guatemala, for the Latin American Social Forum.

"The Guatemalan army has responded in a brutal way" to the demands of the people, Lopez said. It is similar to the approach of the military in neighbouring Honduras, which has staged a coup against a democratically elected government.

"We know that Honduras is a reaction by US imperialism to the progress made by the Latin American people. We, as left-wing parliamentarians, haven't stopped denouncing these threats", Lopez said. "The popular and social organisations, and the people in Guatemala, need to unite to fight for our rights. We need to struggle for real democracy, with multicultural, multi-ethnic and multilingual aspects."

Guatemala signed a peace accord ending a brutal civil war around 15 years ago, but now faces new threats, Lopez said. A section of the right wing wants to consolidate the power of the ruling elite by reducing voting rights for the poor majority of the population.

"Another threat is the destruction of our natural resources", Lopez said, through increased exploitation by multinational corporations, especially from the US and Canada.

Lopez outlined the goal to build a legislative agenda to include the Guatemalan indigenous people, who make up most of the population.