PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Human Rights Law Firm to film screening
On June 23, the PBI – Guatemala Project accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm (Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos – BDH) to a screening of the film ‘Water, the blood of Mother Earth’.
The documentary tells the history of the resistance to hydroelectric dams in the defence of the Cahabón River and the Ox-eek River as well as the criminalization of Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader Bernardo Caal Xol, an opponent of those dams.
The presentation was organized by the Mother Jungle Collective (Colectivo Madre Selva) and the Council of Ancestral Authorities of the Q’eqchi’ people of Cahabón (el Consejo de Autoridades Ancestrales del pueblo Q’eqchi’ de Cahabón).
In August 2017, Indigenous communities voted against the construction of the Oxec I and II hydroelectric dams on the Cahabón River in a community-organized consultation.
The Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón (Resistencia Pacifica de Cahabón) is demanding that the licences granted to Oxec (owned by Energy Resources Capital Corp.) be revoked by the Guatemalan government because there was no prior consultation with Indigenous peoples.
In November 2018, Caal Xol, a leading member of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón, was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison. He had already been imprisoned through “preventative detention” since January 2018.
Telesur explains that, “It was Caal Xol who filed three lawsuits against the Oxec construction company at different institutions, including accusations for failing to consult the local population, and illegally cutting down 15 hectares of trees.”
Another Telesur article reports, “The communities claim the Oxec and Renace hydroelectric projects are illegal because the local Indigenous Q’eqchi’ peoples were not properly consulted and informed about it, as established by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization.”
Convention 169 is a forerunner of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which includes the right to free, prior and informed consent.
The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has accompanied BDH since 2013 and the Resistance since 2017.