PBI-Guatemala accompanies Cahabón complaint against building of Oxec III dam
On August 28, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “Today we accompanied representatives of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón during their complaint of the company Oxec for trying to build a third dam in its territory and for contributing to the criminalization of their partner, political prisoner Bernardo Caal Xol.”
The Oxec and Renace hydroelectric dam complexes have had a controversial and disruptive presence in the Cahabón River basin.
PBI-Guatemala has previously pointed out, “On the Cahabón River and its tributaries Oxec, Canlich and Chiacté, seven hydroelectric plants currently operate: Renace I, II, III, IV, Oxec, Oxec II, and Chichaic.”
The two most recently completed dams are Oxec II which began operation in September 2018 and Renace IV which became operational in January 2019.
Contrainformacion.es has noted, “The construction by ACS, a Florentino Pérez company, of a hydroelectric complex named Renace, and located in the basin of this river, is having a ‘serious impact on human rights’ for the 29,000 indigenous people living in this territory.”
Oxec was built prior to Renace and “already faced the same problems.”
That article also notes, “The people of the affected communities, most of them indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’, have to pass a security check, by way of checkpoint, to drink water.”
Telesur has also reported, “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” and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
PBI-United Kingdom has posted, “In August 2017, PBI provided security support to the good-faith consultation in which the 195 communities of the Cahabón River overwhelmingly rejected the Oxec hydroelectric projects.”
Not long after that, in November 2018, Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader Caal Xol was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison.
Telesur notes, “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.”
A May 2018 interview with Caal Xol conducted by PBI-Guatemala and published by PBI-UK in English can be read here.
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Resistance since July 2017.