The truth about the tragic events in the community Los Pajoques

The truth about the tragic events in the
community Los Pajoques,
San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala
Guatemala, September 22nd, 2014
Report of the tragic events occurred in the community Los Pajoques, September 22nd, 2014
The truth about the tragic events in the
community Los Pajoques, San Juan
Sacatepequez, Guatemala
Given the tragic events that occurred on September 19 , and 20 in the
community Los Pajoques, Cementos Progreso explains and informs the
following facts:
The Anillo Regional (Regional Beltway) is a project of the State of
Guatemala which comprises 8 Departments, 52 Municipal Districts and
419.5 kilometers. Cementos Progreso will donate a stretch of 14
kilometers to support the Ministry of Communications, Infrastructure and
Housing in the construction of such project. Seventy kilometers of the
Anillo Regional are part of a new road that will connect the municipality
of Santo Domingo Xenacoj to the municipalities of San Juan
Sacatepéquez, San Raymundo, Chuarrancho and Sanarate. This project
will benefit more than 750,000 inhabitants, who will finally have a road to
communicate which, up to now, is non-existent.
Although this project represents clear social benefits, it has raised
opposition from a group of people that has tried to impose its will through
harassment, assaults and death upon those who do support it. The facts
described below show that this atmosphere of intimidation is part of a
strategy designed and led by people outside San Juan Sacatepéquez.
Although the atmosphere of fear lingers since 2007, the most recent
pressures began on June 13th, 2014 (see Appendix 1), when the
Representative Amilcar Pop requested the Minister of Communications
all information related to the Anillo Regional. In his official request, the
representative (Amilcar Pop) required detailed information about the
owners of the properties that had been sold for the right of way of the
beltway project and information about those who had not sold their land
On June 16th, 2014, the Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC) coorganized a rally against the military brigade of the Anillo Regional,
against the construction of a cement plant and against the alleged
criminalization of social leaders. Given the demands of the protesters,
led by Daniel Pascual, the government agreed to set up an information
board to discuss these issues.
Siglo21 March, 17th 2014
Report of the tragic events occurred in the community Los Pajoques, September 22nd, 2014
A few days later, at the first meeting of the board held on June 24th, the
government reported extensively about the Anillo Regional, but the
interest of the demonstrators focused on getting the list of the land and
the name of the owners of the right of way, in the same way that
representative Pop had done before. The government stated its inability
to deliver that information because of the violence that had already been
detected against those who allegedly had already sold their land. The
Attorney of Human Rights, as the regulatory authority of the Law of
Information, publicly endorsed the government's position and
recommended keeping it under reserve.
Prensa Libre August 11th, 2014
A week later, on August 18th, Representative Amilcar Pop walked
around part of the Anillo Regional Project and met with people who
oppose the project.
For the second meeting it was agreed that the protesters would present
evidence of the alleged criminalization promoted by the government.
However, without explanation they did not present themselves again, as
they usually do every time mechanisms of dialogue are established.
On August 10th, a group of hooded persons perpetrated another terrorist
act. Besides burning construction equipment and machinery, they
kidnapped and tortured three workers of the contractor company that is
building the road. These three workers were later released but suffered
serious injuries from the tortures to which they were subjected.
Report of the tragic events occurred in the community Los Pajoques, September 22nd, 2014
On August 29th, representative Pop made a second request to the
Ministry of Communications asking for the detailed information of the
The government refused again because of the risk posed to the lives of
people and the atmosphere of insecurity in the area.
On September 18th, during the rally against the Law of Plant Varieties,
Representative Amilcar Pop met with a delegation of protesters who
came from San Juan Sacatepéquez in the Guatemala Congress. The
terms of that conversation are unknown, but a day after this meeting, the
atmosphere of violence in San Juan would be reactivated.
On Friday September 19th, at dusk, the local delegation of the Attorney
General’s Office and the National Dialogue System received several
complaints from the inhabitants stating that a group of persons, with a
list in their hands, was pulling families out of their homes and forcing
them to sign, under threat of death, documents allegedly related to the
ownership of property in the Anillo Regional, crafted by an attorney
known for supporting the opposition to the Anillo Regional and
mismanagement of International Cooperation funds.
represents the most serious humiliation to which a woman can be
Marcelo Pajoc Matz, a worker from the San Gabriel Project, had recently
led the creation of an association of victims of violence for which he was
a target of threats. Additionally, the members of his family had been
labeled as "traitors" because of the recent sale of land for the right of
way of the Anillo Regional.
Pojoc Matz was also a witness in the murder trial of Mr. Pio Turuy
Chajon who died in 2008 during a roadblock. In the trial, he testified
against the three suspects. His testimony and, that of his father, led to
the 50 year conviction of the only person under arrest, Silvestre Cotzajay
Raxon. Two other accused, members of the community, are fugitives.
News Media reports that when firefighters finally managed to enter the
village, they rescued several wounded persons and a girl with severe
burns who was among the smoldering remains of his humble home.
Other injured were also treated. It is still unclear the number of fatalities
or the circumstances in which they died.
These acts of intimidation and threats continued and provoked that the
Attorney General´s Office, at the request of the victims, to file a writ of
habeas corpus. That same day, during the afternoon, the presiding
judge presented himself to the area, and was forced by comunitarios
(community members) to sign a deed stating that there was no act of
But the atmosphere of violence kept growing until it reached tragic
proportions on September 20 when the Pajoc Matz family was
murdered. The hooded criminals acted brutally, and murdered Marcelo
Pajoc Matz and five other members of his family, including his 90 year
old father and his 19 year old nephew. Marcelo's mother withstood
severe brain injuries after being repeatedly beaten and is currently
hospitalized. His wife was able to escape through the mountains with
their 7 children. Other women of the family were strip naked, tortured
and their hair was cut before leaving them stripped and severely beaten.
According to the traditions of these communities, cutting their hair
Report of the tragic events occurred in the community Los Pajoques, September 22nd, 2014
Other houses and other people included in the
attacked, even in the early hours of Monday,
escaped as they could through the mountains.
able to locate, were given shelter in different
infamous list were also
September 21st. They
Those, whom we were
places to ensure their
safety in these times of anguish and uncertainty. All of them have
received medical care and other basic services provided by the
The sequence and organization of these events is evidence of the real
reason for the insistence to obtain names of owners and locations of
land of the Anillo Regional Project. These innocent people are part of a
long list of victims of violence whose only "sin" has been to support the
economic development of their community, taking advantage of
opportunities for decent and honest work.
From 2007 to May 2014, the residents of San Juan Sacatepéquez had
presented complaints before the National Civil Police, the Attorney for
Human Rights and the Public Ministry, related to more than 50 grave
assaults and five murders. All of the attacks are related to the victims’
participation and or employment in the cement plant project or the Anillo
Regional Project. Marcelo Pajoc Matz’s complaints were among these
since he and his family had been harassed for the last four years.
We join the July 24th declaration from the Episcopal Conference which
says that "it is necessary to reject violent actions carried out by groups
infiltrated in the communities, who are not interested in the community
welfare, even though they allege that they fight for the welfare of the
community when, reality shows that, what they do, is to manipulate the
To all Guatemalans of goodwill, especially to all employees of the
Cementos Progreso family, we thank you for your expressions of
solidarity toward the victims and the company. We reiterate our
exhortation to build a country based on authentic leadership values,
ethical behavior, sustainability and solidarity.
To the widows, widowers and orphans, we show our respect, support
and sympathy for the irreparable losses. We will not leave you alone.
Guatemala, September 22nd, 2014.
As in other violent events, Daniel Pascual and other entities have
immediately tried to deceive the public opinion attributing the
responsibility for the violence, to the Novella family, Cementos Progreso
and / or its workers. We categorically reject such accusations as they
are absurd and false.
Cementos Progreso condemns in the strongest terms the violence and
reiterates its commitment to peace, dialogue and to the economic and
social development of the communities where it operates, and the
development of Guatemala. This commitment has been carried out with
social development programs which have benefited thousands of
residents of San Juan Sacatepéquez since 2007. Many other community
infrastructure projects have been built and more than 800 jobs are
currently occupied by residents of San Juan Sacatepéquez.
As in the past, we demand that the State authorities ensure the safety,
free movement and access to justice for all residents of the Municipal
District of San Juan Sacatepéquez, especially for all victims of violence.
Report of the tragic events occurred in the community Los Pajoques, September 22nd, 2014
Attachment 1
Report of the tragic events occurred in the community Los Pajoques, September 22nd, 2014