PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón to present complaint to the Public Ministry about attacks

Published by Brent Patterson on

On February 12, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on its Facebook page, “Yesterday we accompanied members of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón to the MP of San Pedro Carchá. They filed a complaint for the attacks received by workers linked to the OXEC hydroelectric plant.”

“MP” refers to “Ministerio Público” (Public Ministry), “an auxiliary institution of the public administration and of the courts with autonomous functions, whose purposes are to ensure strict compliance with the laws of the country.”

The PBI-Guatemala social media post adds, “The communities of Cahabón exercise their right to defend their territory before the implementation of the hydroelectric project without the prior, free and informed consent.”

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.

Contrainformacion.es has noted, “The construction [of the Renace hydroelectric complex] is having a ‘serious impact on human rights’ for the 29,000 indigenous people living in this territory.” And the book Let’s free our rivers, highlights that the construction of many dams “seriously changes the fluvial ecosystem” around the riverbeds, “destroying habitats, modifying the flow and changing the basic water parameters.”

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 noted, “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 explains, “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.”

The struggle against Oxec and Renace is featured in the new documentary film ‘La Sangre de la Tierra’ (The Blood of the Earth) by Félix Zurita. The trailer for the film (that also tells the story of resistance to hydroelectric dam projects in Honduras and Mexico) can be seen here.

PBI-Guatemala will be screening the film in Guatemala City tomorrow, February 13.

Categories: News Updates


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