Skip to Main content

Violence and visibility in oil palm and sugarcane conflicts: the case of Polochic Valley, Guatemala

Environmental Science and Technology Institute of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (ICTA- UAB)

Over the last two decades, the expansion of oil palm and sugarcane plantations in the Polochic Valley (Guatemala) has exacerbated the historical struggle of Maya-Q’eqchi’ peoples for land rights. Based on a mixed-methods approach, I examine the dynamics of the conflict between 1998 and 2014, focusing on the visibility, manifestation and intensity of violence and the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and peasant organizations in opposition to oil palm and sugarcane plantations. I show that the evolution of the conflict can be explained by changes in the strength of organizations’ alliances due to tensions and lack of coordination, as well as the fear of state repression and the funding context of these organizations. These results allow me to discuss how violence, the role of these organizations and the dynamics of related events have influenced the visibility of the conflict associated with the expansion of oil palm and sugarcane plantations in the Polochic.


agrarian and environmental conflicts


human rights


peasant organizations



email hidden; JavaScript is required

Comments are closed.