Guatemalan farmers take 29 policemen hostage

February 23rd, 2008 - 8:40 pm ICT by admin  

Guatemala City, Feb 23 (IANS) Some 1,500 farmers from Guatemala’s Atlantic coast have taken 29 police officers hostage to press their demand for the release of a farm leader arrested earlier this month on various charges, an interior ministry official has said. The officers were abducted Thursday in Livingston, a town in the Caribbean province of Izabal, and later taken in two boats to Creek Maya, a village 230 km northeast of this capital, Ricardo Gatica, an interior ministry spokesman, was quoted as saying by Spain’s EFE news agency Saturday.

About 1,500 farmers from 26 communities in Livingston, near the border with Belize, are demanding the release of farm leader Ramiro Choc, who was arrested Feb 14 on charges of unlawful seizure of land, robbery and kidnapping.

Gatica said that as per information the farmers have treated the hostages well so far.

Choc, who is being held at a prison in Guatemala City, also spoke to the protesting farmers Friday and urged them to free their captives.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Vinicio Gomez agreed to negotiate a solution to their land demands, Gatica said.

The Central American nation is plagued by unequal distribution of land, with official figures showing that roughly 80 percent of arable land is in the hands of two percent of the population.

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