May 29, 2018
Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez was shot and killed by border patrol after crossing the border in Laredo, Texas on May 23, 2018. The border patrol agent who fired the shot fatally wounding Gomez Gonzalez remains on administrative leave.
Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, 19 years old, was from the Maya Mam community of San Juan Ostuncalco, Guatemala. She held a degree in accounting, but had not been able to secure a job.
Cultural Survival condemns this killing or any use of excessive use of force against another human being. We urge US immigration and border patrol agents to respect the rights of Indigenous people and all people who migrate, especially their right to life, regardless of their immigration status. Above all else, immigrants are people, and are protected under international human rights and humanitarian law. No human being is illegal; and no one should be executed while they are searching for a life free from poverty and violence. Indigenous lives matter.
Guatemalan officials have called for an “exhaustive, impartial investigation” into the killing, and denounced the violence as an excessive use of force, adding a call for respect to the rights of Guatemalan citizens and all those held by immigration control, “especially with respect to life.”
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Article 1 states:
“Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international human rights law.”
UNDRIP Article 7 states, “Indigenous individuals have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person.”
On May 27, a group of 300 Guatemalans held a vigil in Los Angeles demanding investigation into the death of Gomez Gonzalez, reported Prensa Libre. At least 25 people spoke at the vigil in a variety of Indigenous languages. “Guatemalans are dignified people, who all carry dreams. Our compatriot had a dream and it was cut short. Xelajú lost a daughter, a good and honorable woman,” said Luis de la Vega at the vigil.
Walter Batres, of the Network of Guatemalan Migrants, one of the organizers of the vigil, noted “We want to make a tribute to her life, we want to be heard, to ask for justice and demand that the Guatemalan government take steps as well to clarify the facts.”