PBI-Guatemala visits communities opposed to hydroelectric projects on Maya Q’eqchi’ territory
On November 26, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “The Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón continues its fight for the defence of the territory and in rejection of the hydroelectric projects in Maya Q’eqchi ’territory. We visited during this week the communities of Champerico, Tres Cruces, Sacta, Martín Chichaj and Sesaltúl.”
PBI-Guatemala has previously explained, “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.
Telesur has 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.”
In October 2019, PBI-Guatemala was present at a request by Q’eqchi’ communities to the Constitutional Court to stop the Renace dams.
PBI-Guatemala noted, “Inhabitants of San Pedro Carchá, indicate that the Ministry of Energy and Mines authorized the company and concessioned the Cahabón River for 50 years, violating the right of consultation to the Q’eqchi’ people, so it is requested that the Constitutional Court protect and suspend hydroelectric activities.”
The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has accompanied the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón since July 2017.