PBI-Guatemala accompanies criminalized Maya Q’eqchi’ defender Bernardo Caal Xol at court hearing
On August 24, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Today, PBI accompanied criminalized defender Bernardo Caal Xol at a hearing in Coban.”
It adds: “In another trial he is accused of scamming the State of Guatemala for having received his salary as a teacher for a while in which he also exercised his duties as a unionist in his profession. The judge declared the provisional closure of the case and gave the MP [Public Ministry] 6 months to seek further evidence. Next audience will be April 2022.”
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.
In July 2020, Amnesty International declared that Caal Xol is a prisoner of conscience who has been wrongfully imprisoned.
The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has accompanied Bernardo and the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón since 2017.