Opinion | World

Armstrong Wiggins: Respect indigenous rights in Guatemala

Armstrong Wiggins, the director of the Washington, D.C., office of the Indian Law Resource Center, calls on Secretary of State John Kerry to address indigenous rights in Guatemala:
Contrary to government propaganda, the indigenous leaders I have met with in my work with the Indian Law Resource Center are not against development. They want rights and to be able to inform the development process. The current practice of land allotments is not the solution. We know from U.S. history with Native Americans that taking land and displacing indigenous peoples leads to extreme poverty and cultural demise. We must not let history repeat itself in Guatemala.

Secretary Kerry has an opportunity to make change for indigenous peoples by acknowledging their concerns and supporting dialogues among their leaders and the government. No human beings should be brutally killed for protesting tax and electricity hikes and calling for constitutional and education reform. That's what we saw in Totonicapan just last year when eight Maya Q'iche people were killed and 30 were wounded.

I urge Secretary Kerry to be an agent of change and to start a process that protects the rights and lives of indigenous peoples.

I hear you indigenous peoples of Guatemala, and I hope the Secretary of State will, too.

Get the Story:
Armstrong Wiggins: Indigenous Rights Must Be Top Priority for John Kerry (Indian Country Today 6/18)

Join the Conversation