Ilka Oliva Corado
Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz
Guatemala, a country of eternal inequalities and racism rooted even in the sugar in coffee. A country of classists dying of hunger. In this Guatemala that overflows with poetry and memory in the huipiles of the indigenous women and; of sacrifice and millennial work in their hands and on their backs, the exclusion is imposed by the mestizos who have always believed themselves to be superior by ethnicity and social class.
These detentions of community journalists occur regularly in a country where impunity undermines any struggle for justice, journalists who are discriminated against by the union, where there are many mestizos, classists and racists who denigrate them because of their ethnicity, but also because these communicators do not have a university degree that accredits them. In the case of journalist Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz, the racism and classism of the country’s journalistic union has been very clear. When one of their own is touched, they jump up and down, but not for an indigenous person who has to defend themselves. This is not surprising, because in a country where racism and classism are even among flies on the food plate, it would be strange if the union acted with solidarity as a human response.
The community journalists write opinion articles, make videos, audios, take photographs, denouncing what is happening in their communities, with what great sacrifice, since they do not have the material resources or the financing necessary to do so. On top of all the government abuse, racism and classism in the country, the union fails to show solidarity with them and ignores them, thus putting them in even more vulnerable positions for abuse. However, the native peoples have always defended themselves and will continue to do so. In this Guatemala of indigenous people massacred and disappeared en masse, in the Guatemala of collective memory, of government abuse, of deforestation, of ecocide, of forced migration, of criminal gangs plundering the State. That Guatemala of mestizos boasting of having indigenous girls as domestic servants in their homes. Of Indians breaking their backs carrying the packages of the mestizos in the La Terminal market. Of mestizos dying of hunger.
Guatemala, where one of the most atrocious genocides in Latin American history took place, seeking to exterminate the original peoples. Little has changed since then, the indigenous people continue to be humiliated, excluded and exploited. Their lands continue to be stolen by oligarchies that the state overlaps with, the waters of the rivers polluted leaving entire communities without sustenance. In the Guatemala of eternal inequalities and racism, the native peoples are the most mistreated, but also the most dignified. They mourn their dead alone, as if the death of an indigenous person was not worth the same as that of a mestizo, as if massacring indigenous people was equivalent to attacking plagues.
They take care of each other, they shelter each other because they only have themselves, the indigenous people in Guatemala are part of society and the population existing only to be exploited. Guatemala stands on its own two feet, and the country resolves thanks to the remittances sent by thousands of undocumented migrants. These migrants are mostly indigenous people who have had to leave their villages to seek a life in another country. Despite being discriminated against by their own countrymen, they keep them afloat with their remittances. Guatemala does not subsist thanks to the mestizos; it manages to breathe thanks to the remittances of thousands of indigenous people. The same indigenous people who have proven that in times of crisis they give with their hands, withdraw the morsel from their mouths to give it to those in need without stopping to think about their ethnicity.
And this is also seen in the struggles for the defense of the environment, it is the indigenous people who lay down their lives, who defend the rivers, who defend the forests, the human rights of their people. And when they are attacked, violated or murdered, they are the only ones who come out to denounce. The case of the Ixil women who denounced having been raped by members of the army in times of dictatorship, in the trial for genocide in 2013, is clear. Society left them alone, not only accusing them of lying but also discriminating against them because of their ethnicity.
There is the example of the Alaska Massacre, on October 4, 2012 where 7 indigenous people were massacred by army soldiers at kilometer 169, at the Alaska Summit when they were peacefully demonstrating with hundreds of others, in defense of education and for the rise of electric power. To this day, the families of these victims continue to fight for justice in the Guatemala of eternal impunity. Society also left them alone, they were indigenous people that the mestizos did not recognize as people. In Petén, on the border with Mexico, dozens of police and soldiers took the people out of their homes and handed them over to farmers. What kind of society is there for them?
When indigenous community journalists are detained and raped, only the native peoples with them are arrested. Another recent example is the detention of community journalist Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz, director of Xol Abaj Radio and Xol Abaj Tv, in the municipality of Joyabaj, Quiché. She is accused of sedition, aggravated assault, arson, and robbery, because she documented and reported irregularities in the management and administration of the mayor of Joyabaj, Francisco Carrascosa, and the demonstrations of the population against him. The authorities did not like the fact that the journalist documented with video and audio the pictures of citizens expressing their rejection of her administration in the city hall, and therefore her arrest was not only to intimidate them, but also to silence their expression and denunciation.
These detentions of community journalists occur regularly in a country where impunity undermines any struggle for justice, journalists who are discriminated against by the union, where there are many mestizos, classists and racists who denigrate them because of their ethnicity, but also because these communicators do not have a university degree that accredits them.
The native peoples of Guatemala demand the immediate release of community journalist Anastasia Mejia Tiriquiz. And with them are those who believe in the right to freedom of expression and that a university degree, an ethnicity or social class does not grant anyone courage or dignity, nor can it deprive them of it.