This petition closed 4 months ago
"We express ourselves through loving nature, loving life, loving humans, loving the past, loving the present, loving the future… I, like other comrades who suffer judicial persecution, try to defend humanity. In it's entirety, not just the indigenous or garifuna but all human beings. This is our ultimate goal." -Ramiro Choc
Ramiro Choc is a q'eqchi' peasant leader from eastern Guatemala. His dynamic organizing skills and commitment to social and environmental justice lead to his leadership in numerous successful grassroots struggles. He has survived several assassination attempts and is currently held in prison in Guatemala City. He has been held by the government since soldiers illegally arrested him on February 14, 2008.
Ramiro Choc was born in extreme poverty in a plantation within the municipality of El Estor, Izabal. His parents had been born slaves. At age 17 he became a catechist for the Catholic Church. He taught a liberation theology in which people should not only have justice after death in heaven but also during life on earth. This brought him great support among the peasant population but not among all of the church hierarchy.
After nearly thirteen years as a catechist the gap between Choc's liberation theology and the conservative doctrine of many of his superior's became too large. Choc was hired by the National Indigenous and Peasant Coordinating Committee (CONIC) as a "promoter," working primarily with indigenous communities involved in land struggles.
With CONIC, Choc earned a reputation for his firm defense of the rights of indigenous communities. After approximately seven years, he left CONIC and helped form a new organization, Encuentro Campesino (Peasant Encounter/Gathering).
Choc continued to have success in helping indigenous q'eqchi' communities reclaim their rights, especially through Encuentro Campesino. Choc didn't only work with q'eqchi' communities but also with ladino (of Spanish descent) and garifuna (of African descent) peasants. His ability to unite diverse marginalized communities in defense of their rights became a threat to the dominance of the government and wealthy landowners who looked for an opportunity to silence him.
On February 14, 2008, Choc was illegally arrested by members of the military. Later he would be sentenced to six years in prison on a number of fraudulent charges, including kidnapping and theft.
On February 14, 2011, activists will hold demonstrations, turn in petitions and begin a hunger strike in support of Choc. For more information, visit www.guatemalasolidarityproject.org