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Aspiring Guatemalan Vice-Presidential Candidates Meet With Indigenous Organizations

On October 13, 2015 leading Indigenous organizations organized a meeting with the two aspiring vice-president candidates of Guatemala. The meeting had as a goal the discussion of the Indigenous Political Agenda and the work still to be done to improve the situation of over 40% of the population. The candidates are Mario Leal Castillo, vice-president candidate for the left-wing political party UNE and Jafeth Cabrera vice-president candidate for the right-wing political party FCN. Both candidates were invited to sit down at the discussion table and openly discuss the major issues affecting Indigenous communities around the country.

Five previous working sessions had been held among all the participating Indigenous organizations to construct an agenda of petitions. Petitions included: territory rights, sacred site rights, liberation of political prisoners among others. The agenda was presented by members of Naleb, a Guatemalan Indigenous rights organization that promotes political participation, they been leading the discussion. The candidate and his team listened  to the agenda as the evening progressed. Many of the participants were disappointed in the absence of the other candidate since they were hoping for a debate rather than a political campaign.

No concrete promises were made during the discussion. Jafeth Cabrera promised to keep in mind the petitions made and mentioned his commitment to improving the lives of the thousands of Indigenous families. Similar promises have been made by previous administrations but no concrete actions have ever been seen.