On Dec. 29, representatives from Guatemalan Indigenous peoples and social movements gathered in Santo Domingo in the Suchitepéquez department of Guatemala for the first “plurinational assembly” of the Movement for the Liberation of the Peoples (MLP). The assembly elected an executive committee.
MLP is an initiative begun by the Peasant Development Committee (CODECA) and backed by the Indigenous communities where CODECA and other social movements operate. Last November, MLP was registered for the 2019 presidential elections. However, CODECA has insisted: “What’s being built is not another party, but a political instrument called #MLP, to propel the plurinational STATE and good living.” (tinyurl.com/y7gkx5sl)
The proposals from the plurinational assembly will be taken back to regional meetings for further debate.
Objectives and methods of the MLP
In the nearly two months between MLP’s registration and the first plurinational assembly, there were a series of regional assemblies to determine MLP’s priorities. In addition to the regional assemblies, there was a national meeting of MLP youth.
The MLP’s proposals include lowering public officials’ salaries and renouncing parliamentary immunity, a practice which has been at the center of the recent anti-corruption struggle.
MLP is also proposing the nationalization of privatized services; recovery of lands, territories and water for human consumption; and the creation of a Popular and Plurinational Constituent Assembly in order to create a plurinational state with autonomous Indigenous regions.
Motivation for building a plurinational state comes from the experience of Indigenous peoples during the nearly 200 years of the Republic of Guatemala. At the plurinational assembly, CODECA human rights defender Thelma Cabrera explained: “They keep us like slaves, they keep us on our knees; if we defend our rights, we are called terrorists; if we defend the mother Earth, they offer us bullets, if we protest, they call us thugs.” (tinyurl.com/ybgbop82)
The assassination of Indigenous and peasant leaders was another theme of the assembly. It is another reason MLP is advocating for the construction of a plurinational state. Vicenta Jeronimo said during the assembly that the Guatemalan Peace Accords were paper agreements only: “They keep killing us with hunger, they offer us bullets when we defend the rivers, the mother Earth, our children die fleeing from poverty.” (tinyurl.com/y82q98jp)
Throughout the assembly, speakers reiterated that it was the communities that were uniting behind the MLP and that is where the drive for the plurinational state and demands for social changes needed to originate.
Migration and the plurinational state
In recent weeks at least two Guatemalan children have died in detention centers on the U.S.-Mexico border. Last May, a Border Patrol agent shot another Guatemalan, Claudia Patricia Gómez González. All three, just like many Central Americans who are crossing the border, are from Indigenous communities.
In Guatemala, Indigenous peoples have always suffered the worst poverty and violence, from genocide during the civil war to the ongoing killings of defenders of the land and of human rights.
Today, the foreign funds that come into Guatemala, supposedly for economic development, are used to build new mines and other environment-destroying projects. The big companies steal land to build these projects and criminalize any communities that protest. In this sense, the “development” imposed by foreign investment is nothing more than the continuation of colonialism.
The same starvation wages in the big plantations and in the foreign-backed projects drive many people to migrate. The MLP opposes these projects. The Guatemalan oligarchy promotes racism against Indigenous peoples. This racism and the corruption of the traditional imperialist puppet politicians block any solution to the migration crisis. At the same time President Donald Trump threatens to halt U.S. aid to the country.
The only solution for Guatemala is to “break the fences of the CACIF plantation” (CACIF is the organization of big guatemalan businesses) and empower the communities and peoples of the country.