Shifting pain

 
Published: Saturday 31 July 2004

A nationwide strike, sparked by the recent spurt in eviction of predominantly indigenous families from their traditional lands, left Guatemala paralysed. A regressive tax proposal and the newly signed Central American Free Trade Agreement (cafta) also stoked the protests. The strike was organised by a diverse coalition of over 100 indigenous rights groups, women's organisations, human rights groups and labour unions. The movement was supported by international solidarity actions, including a rally in front of the Guatemalan Embassy in the us.

Although the strike was meant to last two days, President Oscar Berger arranged to negotiate with the protesters only eight hours after it was launched. This was a novel line of action for a government that has given priority to the interests of the business sector.

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