PBI-Guatemala accompanies human rights defenders who raise their voices about the climate crisis

Published by Brent Patterson on

The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project writes in Bulletin No. 42, “The climate crisis is one of the greatest challenges that has faced humanity for decades and, having grown in urgency over time, it is now causing much alarm.”

“Despite this urgency, however, so far the necessary measures have not been taken worldwide to stop it and avoid reaching a point of no return.”

“Guatemala is among the countries most affected by this emergency.”

“PBI accompanies various social organizations across various departments, which has allowed us to observe and listen to the different ways in which this crisis is manifesting, as well as communities’ attempts to mitigate its effects.”

“Ubaldino García, a member of the Ch’orti ‘Nuevo Día Central Campesino (CCCND) describes how ‘the last five years have been very complicated for the Ch’orti’ territory because there has been no rain. …Lack of rain has led to the loss of many seeds and native plants in the Ch’orti’ region. We have seen many of the plants and birds that I knew from my adolescence disappear, those are the consequences. If there is no forest, water, or rivers, many species and plants will no longer exist, these are major impacts of climate change.’”

Similar observations are made in the article by Carlos Morales, coordinator of the Union of Peasant Organizations (UVOC), Sandra Calel, also a member of UVOC, and Rosa Rosales of the Peaceful Resistance of La Laguna.

The article continues, “The dominant global economic logic and the ‘development’ policies that support it, put economic benefit before the preservation, care and conservation of the environment and natural assets. This attitude further aggravates the impacts of the climate crisis and exposes us to enormous challenges, particularly for communities facing large investment projects, of various kinds, in their territories.”

“Guatemala has not escaped this logic, with examples of megaprojects that have been highly questioned by organizations, affected communities and experts in the field. Some notable cases include the OXEC and Renace hydroelectric plants in the Cahabón and San Pedro Carchá region of Alta Verapaz; the Cantera de los Manantiales antimony mine, INCAMIN S.A, in Olopa, Chiquimula; the mining project El Tambor (currently suspended), in San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc; etc.”

The article then quotes Esteban Rivas from the Council of Communities of Cunén (CCC), Ana Sandoval of the Peaceful Resistance La Puya, Rosa Rosales of the Peaceful Resistance of La Laguna, and Carlos Morales of the Union of Peasant Organizations (UVOC) on the impact of mega-projects on rivers, forests and Indigenous rights.

It then adds, “There are many cases of repression against human rights defenders who are confronting these megaprojects, such as Bernardo Caal Xol, the q’eqchi’ leader from the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón, who was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for defending the Oxec and Cahabón rivers, and the nature that surrounds them, in the face of the proposed construction of the OXEC hydroelectric plants.”

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Union of Peasant Organizations (UVOC) since 2005, Ch’orti ‘Nuevo Día Central Campesino (CCCND) since 2009, the Council of Communities of Cunén (CCC) since February 2010, the Peaceful Resistance of La Laguna since November 2015, and the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón since July 2017.

Please read the full article at Communities raise their voices about the climate crisis (pages 10-13 of PBI-Guatemala Bulletin No. 42).

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