Freedom for Q'eqchi' Political Prisoner Abelino Chub Caal in Guatemala!

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We call for the immediate release of Abelino Chub Caal!

On February 4, 2017, indigenous Q'eqchi' leader Abelino Chub Caal was arrested while celebrating his birthday with his wife and two young children.  When he asked why the police were taking him, they responded "because you are an indigenous leader."  Two years later Abelino remains in prison, even though he has not been convicted of any crime.

Abelino is in prison on charges related to a government attack against an indigenous village called Plan Grande.  Abelino is a university-educated man who had dedicated his life to working with this and other communities in northeast Guatemala as a technician.  Abelino had worked for over 10 years with the Guillermo Toriello Foundation, supporting legal processes to have the government recognize land rights of indigenous communities.  Abelino also worked to defend communities against acute hunger and illness by supporting clean water systems, sustainable agriculture projects and organizing disaster relief after natural disasters.  

Many of the communities in the region where Abelino worked are being targeted for mass land theft by mining, hydroelectric, African palm, banana and other natural resource exportation companies.  One such community, Plan Grande, was being targeted by Inversiones Cobra Sociedad Anonima.  They wanted to expand their massive banana and African palm plantations onto the community's land.  Knowing that Abelino worked with the community, they offered him a massive bribe if he would convince them to leave.  Abelino refused the bribe.

On October 26, 2016, over 1500 Guatemalan police officers attacked Plan Grande.  Every home was burned down and several people were injured; one woman died of her injuries several days later.  At the time, Abelino was supporting peaceful negotiations about the community's right to the land with the central government.

The company that requested the "eviction," Inversiones Cobra Sociedad Anonima, also accused Abelino of aggravated robbery, arson, illicit association, use of coercion and belonging to illegal armed groups.  They have presented no evidence, and no one has been held accountable for the attack on Plan Grande.  A court has since ruled that the company has no right to the land.

The same charges against Abelino are frequently used against indigenous community leaders in Guatemala.  Because of the seriousness of the accusations, Abelino must remain in prison until proven innocent.  Meanwhile the government continues to suspend and delay hearings to the extent that Abelino has now passed two years in prison without a trial.