Environmental justice award winner: ‘We have the right to live in a territory that for us is sacred’

By Barbara Fraser
April 12, 2021

Aura Lolita Chávez Ixcaquic, a K'iche Maya teacher and community leader in Guatemala, was returning home on a bus with other women when armed men boarded the vehicle and demanded to know “Who is Lolita?” Thinking she was about to die, she was about to answer when another woman stood up and said, “I am Lolita.” The men began to beat her, when another woman, and then another, said, “No, I am Lolita.”

She escaped injury that day, but in 2017, she and other members of the Council of K'iche Peoples for the Defense of Life, Mother Nature, Land and Territory were attacked after stopping a truck carrying illegally cut timber. Death threats forced her to leave her country that year.

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