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CPRs to Put Down Roots
Cerigua Weekly Briefs, No.48, 11 December 1997
Guatemala City, December 9. After more than a decade of living like refugees in their own country, the Communities of Resistance (CPRs) of the Sierra will soon have permanent homes.
Although a date has not been set for the definitive resettlement of more than 8,000 people, today the government finalized the purchase of the four estates where they will live. According to the CPRs, the population is already divided into four blocs with the largest group headed for the South Coast, another for the Zona Reyna in the Ixcan region of Quiche province, one will return to the lands they came from in Nebaj and Cotzal, Quiche and one group will remain in Chajul, Quiche on the lands they currently occupy.
In anticipation of the move, the communities have decided not to plant new crops for the upcoming year.
"We're very excited about the (government's proposed) timetable. In our communities we've begun to make changes and organize ourselves better, on the understanding that the move will be immediate," read a statement by the group. "We are witnessing the close of a chapter of struggle... and the opening of a different stage of life."
Negotiations for the purchase of the lands lasted two years.
In the early 1980s, the campesinos who later formed the CPRs fled their homes to escape the army's scorched earth campaigns. But instead of crossing the border into Mexico like thousands of other Guatemalans, they remained in hiding in the jungle, constantly hunted and bombarded by the military. They went public about their plight in 1991.