Aura Lolita Chavez (1972)

Human rights activist in Guatemala

Aura Lolita Chavez Ixcaquic, known as Lolita, is a human rights activist in Guatemala. She is a member of the Council of the Ki’che Populations (CPK), an organization founded in 2007, to face the consequences of the free trade agreement between the Dominican Republic and Central America. Lolita and her group strive to safeguard the natural resources and human rights against the expansion of the mining, logging, hydro-electric and farming industries in the land.

The Ki’ches symbolize the struggle for environmental human rights in today’s world. They have been subject to a genocidal campaign made of rapes, deaths, cultural alienation and the grab of their lands during the civil war of Guatemala (1960-1996). The present and past violations of human rights, though, have remained unpunished. In July 2017, Lolita and other members of the Council succeeded in blocking a logging truck that transported wood without a license. In the wake of the retaliation, Lolita and her comrades had to face death threats. The Guatemalan government has refused to protect them and Lolita, for safety reasons, had to flee from her country and take refuge in Spain, in the Basque Lands. In October 2017 the European Parliament shortlisted Ms Chavez for the Sakharov Human Rights Prize along with three other finalists. Regarding this nomination, in an interview granted to the Humanité, Lolita said: “This is a very important occasion in the history of the Maya people and the Indigenous peoples, because it makes our struggle more visible. Europe cannot turn a blind eye about the events unfolding in Guatemala, because European companies are responsible for them. They have blood-stained hands, so Europe needs to react”, and then she added “We are not talking only about the humanity, the human situation. In our world view – the view of the indigenous peoples – there is a very important relationship with nature and biodiversity. Everything belongs to a single struggle”. In January 2018 Lolita also received the Ignacio Ellacuría Prize from the Basque government for her work of defending the land of the K'iche people from exploitation.

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