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February 20, 2019

 

We Demand Justice for Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin, 7-year-old Maya Q’eqchi’ child, who died in the custody of Customs and Border Patrol of the United States

 

 

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:

  1. 1.     

    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.  

    1. 2.         A review of the Customs and Border Patrol policies and practices with special emphasis on the current treatment and conditions children are being subjugated to while in detention. Specifically, indigenous children who often do not receive interpretation resources in their native languages, as was the case with Jakelin and her father.
        Although the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Homeland Security has declared that it will carry out an investigation
    1. 3.         Guarantee the personal safety and integrity of Jakelin’s father, Nery Caal, while he remains in detention.  We ask that all necessary measures are taken to guarantee adequate conditions which will allow him to provide full accurate testimony without fear, including access to Maya Q’eqchi’ interpreters and trauma counselors to help him deal with the death of his daughter.
    1. 4.         Coordinate a meeting with leaders of the Guatemalan diaspora, including indigenous peoples’ leadership to ensure they are part of the conversation and process towards the development of humane immigration policies. These leaders work to ensure that the basic needs and rights of migrants and specifically of indigenous peoples, including their rights to receive services in their indigenous languages are protected and guaranteed.
    1. 5.         Recognize and implement the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the bare minimum standard for the respect and protection of indigenous Nations’ rights within a context of conflict, persecution, and forced displacement from our lands and territories, which has turned us into refugees.

            In consideration of everything presented, we hope that there may be a future for dialogue. We are tired of being treated as if our lives do not matter. We will not stand idly by as our children are murdered by inhumane policies and practices rooted in hatred, fear, and racism.  For future communications and coordination please contact Mr. Benito Juarez, Secretary of Migration for the Network for Peace and Development of Guatemala, RPDG, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    We look forward to your response,

Sincerely,

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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