The undersigned write this letter to demand justice for the death of Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin; a Maya Q’eqchi’ indigenous girl who was just 7 years-old. We vehemently demand an immediate and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death to ensure those responsible are held accountable. Jakelin died on the morning of December 8, 2018 while in custody of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) in New Mexico. Per a statement from her family, Jakelin and her father, Nery Caal’s first language is Maya Q’eqchi’ yet they were only provided forms in English while in custody denying their basic right to effective communication, and interpretation in accordance with Executive Order 13166; DHS Language Access Plan; and CBP Language Access Plan.
Maya Q’eqchi’ is one of 22 distinct Maya languages spoken in Guatemala by the indigenous majority. The Department of Homeland Security and the CBP’s practices that disregard human rights protected under US and international law must end. The urgency to change your agency is growing – you must respect human rights.
Jakelin was a little Maya Q’eqchi’ girl from San Antonio Secortez, of the Damascus microregion of Raxruhá in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Since the 1990s, there has been a rapid expansion of palm oil plantations in the area of Raxruha resulting in permanent land loss for the Maya Q’eqchi’. Further, large-scale deforestation, mining and hydroelectric dams are causing environmental harm, polluting the water and land the Q’eqchi’ people rely on for subsistence. Their quality of life has been further impacted by drug trafficking related violence that continues to surge in the region.
The historical inequalities over land rights in areas like Alta Verapaz and throughout Guatemalan along with extreme poverty, are affecting primarily the indigenous majority of Guatemala and leading to forced migration. As indigenous peoples’ organizations, Guatemalan organizations and networks, and human rights defenders, we are acutely aware of forced migration of indigenous peoples from Guatemala due to historical and current discrimination, racism and oppression by the Guatemalan government with the support of the United States foreign policies.
The senseless death of our indigenous little sister, Jakelin Caal of the Maya Q’eqchi’ Nation, clearly demonstrates the increased disregard for human life and human rights by the current administration. The killing of Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez of the Maya Mam Nation
In May 2018, the horrific death of Jakelin, plus the forced separation of thousands of children from their families are particularly alarming for all people, and specifically for indigenous peoples. Children, explicitly indigenous children, are some of the most victimized because they only speak their native language and can’t communicate with authorities or service providers. We are outraged by the death of our little sister Jakelin and WE REQUEST the following from the government of the United States:
we request that this investigation be exhaustive, fair and transparent to allow for the prosecution of those responsible for Jakelin Caal’s death while she was in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol. Impunity is not an option.
We look forward to your response,
United States Coalition against Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala:
International Mayan League (Washington, D.C.)
Network for Peace and Development of Guatemala -RPDG- (New York)
Alliance of Guatemalan Organizations, ADOGUAH per Spanish acronym, (Houston, Texas)
Organization of Mayan Peoples in Exile (Florida and Colorado)
Committee of Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (Los Angeles, California)