PBI-Guatemala accompanies Council of Communities of Retalhuleu assembly meeting
On August 2, PBI-Guatemala posted: “PBI accompanies the community assembly of the Council of Communities of Champerico, Retalhuleu in the village of El Triunfo.”
PBI-Guatemala has explained: “The Council of Communities of Retalhuleu (CCR) consists of more than 18 communities in the department of Retalhuleu (mainly the municipality of Champerico), belonging to the Mam, K’iche’ and Ixil peoples.”
It adds: “They began to organize in 2015 because of the adverse effects caused by the expansion of the monoculture of sugar and the use of large-scale agrochemicals and pesticides used by the mills in the region.”
Champerico is a port city situated on the Pacific Ocean about 225 kilometres south-west of Guatemala City.
This past March, PBI-Guatemala also posted: “Congratulations to the fishermen and their team of lawyers and attorneys at the Law Firm for Indigenous Peoples.”
This refers to the exoneration of six fishers who had been criminalized since 2015 by the Nova Guatemala/Pesca Nova S.A. shrimp company for speaking against the company’s polluting of traditional fishing areas in the Champerico estuary.
Then in mid-April, PBI-Guatemala expressed concern about the massive police presence in the village of El Triunfo.
At that time, the National Network for the Defence of Food Sovereignty (REDSAG) tweeted: “We denounce the repression and intimidation experienced by El Triunfo due to the resistance they have had due to the high charges for electricity. At least 200 riot police are found on the outskirts of the community.”
Prensa Comunitaria has also noted: “According to the community, the villagers are asking for the nationalization of electricity, due to the poor service provided by companies such as Energuate.”
And earlier this month, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Last week, we visited the criminalized defenders and members of the Retalhuleu Council of Communities (CCR). We also met with Governor Ignacio Arreaga Cifuentes to express our concern about the safety of these defenders and the advocate for the right to water.”
Significantly, the Guatemalan Sugar Association (ASAZGUA) has identified Canada as the top export destination for Guatemalan sugar. In 2020, it reported Guatemala exported 333,596 metric tons of sugar to Canada.
PBI-Guatemala began to accompany the CCR in April 2020 due to the risks and threats experienced by its members.