They wanted us to leave, but where could we go?

Enrique Caal’s eyes water as he remembers how he lost his mother during a forced eviction in October 2016.

Along with other villagers, he had taken part in the occupation of a piece of land owned by a powerful palm oil plantation neighbouring their community.

He blames the police. During the eviction, a tear gas canister fell near his 88 year-old mother’s house. Simona was too weak to escape and suffocated to death.

Enrique could not report her death.

He tells me in Q’eqchi’, his indigenous mother tongue, that there was no one he could report it to. “How could I tell the police if it was them who killed her?” he asks.

I met Enrique during my trip with IWMF to Izabal, a northern province of Guatemala where clashes between indigenous groups and government forces have become common. Human rights organisations say monoculture and mining companies have pushed indigenous communities further into poverty by expropriating their land and employing their men at low salaries. Full story coming soon!

Enrique’s house is nested among a corn field. For Enrique, leaving the land they have occupied is not an option: “we have nowhere else to go” he says. Izabal, Guatemala. Feb. 11, 2018. © Erika Piñeros

Enrique Caal, an indigenous 58 year old man, holds the only photo he has of his mother, Simona. Izabal, Guatemala. Feb. 11, 2018. © Erika Piñeros

– Erika Piñeros