BROADCASTER John Creedon has presented Guatemalan activist Abelino Chub Caal with a Trócaire award for human rights work at a presentation in Cork city and described the honour as a ‘testemen’ to the work being done in Guatamala.
Around the world, Trócaire work with over 400 local partners who tirelessly support communities facing the threat of violence, intimidation and evictions. The Trócaire’s Romero International Award, award, named in honor of the late Oscar Romero, is given in recognition of such outstanding efforts.
Working in support of indigenous Mayan land rights in his native country, 35-year-old Abelino Chub Caal was wrongfully imprisoned for over two years.
Mr Creedon recently spent time in Guatamala with Trócaire, giving him a real apprciation for the challenges and the work being done.
“I left Guatemala with a heavy heart and, to be honest, as the prison gates closed behind us following the visit, any hope of justice seemed miles away,” he said. “I wondered if I’d ever shake the hand again of the man to whom I had just said goodbye.
“To think that I’d be drinking coffee with him in Cork within the year is absolutely remarkable. It’s a testament to the often unnoticed work of Trócaire and their partners in Guatemala.”
Guatemala is one of the most violent countries in the world where the largest 2.5 per cent of farms occupy more than 65 per cent of the land. While indigenous communities make up 60 per cent of the Guatemalan population, many are living in fear as widespread evictions and land grabs from businesses are backed by corrupt authorities.
“This award is a recognition for a collective struggle in search of justice and peace,” Abelino said. “It vindicates the dignity and human struggle of those who have fallen and have been persecuted or imprisoned by an act of injustice.” Detained for over 800 days in jail after his wrongful arrest in February 2017, Abelino’s trial lasted less than five days last April as he was cleared of all charges alleging trespass and damage of land.
A university-educated bilingual teacher, he has acted as an intermediary for Maya Q’eqchi’ communities – who do not speak Spanish, the language of national law – in talks with authorities.
“Justice in Guatemala is equal to snakes, the authorities only bite those who are barefoot,” Abelino added. “This prize is not for me – it is for the communities who continue to fight until they are treated humanely by the State of Guatemala.”
*Abelino Chub Caal will speak at an event hosted by the Kinsale Peace Project and Trócaire at the Friary Centre in Kinsale at 8pm tonight (Tuesday). The event is open to the public and admission is free. For more details, visit: www.kinsalepeaceproject.com