PBI-Guatemala accompanies unjustly imprisoned Maya Q’eqchi’ defender Bernardo Caal Xol at court hearing

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by PDH Guatemala.

On May 7, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on Facebook: “Bernardo Caal Xol hearing was cancelled at the Supreme Court of Justice due to sickness of some judges; re-programmed for Tuesday, May 11.”

In this Prensa Comunitaria video from Twitter: “The lawyer Edgar Pérez reported that the challenge hearing against magistrates of the Criminal Chamber was suspended because they argued that they were sick.”

La Cuerda also reported: “Today in front of the Supreme Court of Justice, family and friends of Bernardo Caal demanded his release. A hearing was scheduled for this day, but it was suspended. Caal’s defense has denounced that the case has been stalled for two years, while he remains in prison.”

Caal Xol is a leader of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón, a collective of 38 Maya Q’eqchi communities, that was formed to oppose the construction of the Oxec and Renace dams on the Cahabón River and its tributaries.

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.”

The Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC) highlights: “A few months later [in December 2017], Bernardo was arrested [in] a clear act of retribution for the defense of his community’s water rights.”

In November 2018, Bernardo was sentenced to seven years and four months in jail.

Amnesty International has declared that Caal Xol is a prisoner of conscience who has been wrongfully imprisoned. The GHRC says Caal Xol’s criminalization was a clear act of retribution for his defence of the Cahabón River.

The two most recently completed dams on Cahabón River are Oxec II which began operation in September 2018 and Renace IV which became operational in January 2019. These dams were built without free, prior and informed consent.

Communities are now mobilizing to stop the construction of yet another dam, Oxec III.

The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has accompanied the Peaceful Resistance and Caal Xol since August 2017.

Photo: PBI-Guatemala at the Supreme Court of Justice, May 7.

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