Maya Q’eqchi environmental defender Bernardo Caal Xol released after four years in prison!

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Video still: Caal Xol released from prison on March 24.

On March 25, Telesur reported: “Environmental defender Bernardo Caal Xol regained his freedom on Thursday night, after spending four years in Cobán prison for his fight against hydroelectric projects in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz.”

That article adds: “At the time of his release, the Q’eqchi Mayan defender was accompanied by his lawyers and a delegation from his community with whom they maintain the fight against the Oxec S.A. hydroelectric plants, on the Cahabón River in Alta Verapaz.”

Prensa Comunitaria has also tweeted this short video clip noting: “Bernardo Caal Xol is free after a judge ordered his early release on March 23.”

And Erika Guevara-Rosas from Amnesty International comments: “It’s regrettable that in Guatemala unfounded criminal prosecutions aimed at harassing and obstructing the work of human rights defenders – particularly environmentalists and Indigenous people, and those who fight against impunity and corruption – are such a common tactic.”

Accompaniment timeline in photos

The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has accompanied Bernardo and the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón since 2017.

September 17, 2021: PBI-Guatemala accompanied the press conference that announced the negative response of the Supreme Court of Justice of Guatemala to the appeal for cassation [annulment] raised by the legal defence for Bernardo.

August 24, 2021: PBI-Guatemala accompanied Bernardo at a hearing in Coban.

June 4, 2021: PBI-Guatemala accompanied the March for the Freedom of Bernardo Caal Xol, Jorge Coc and Marcelino Xol Cucul.

May 11, 2021: PBI-Guatemala accompanies Bernardo at court hearing.

April 5, 2021: PBI-Guatemala accompanied members of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón at the public hearing before the CSJ [Supreme Court of Justice] for Bernardo.

March 25, 2021: PBI-Guatemala posts this video of their interview with Bernardo in prison in Cobán, Alta Verapaz.

March 8, 2021: PBI-Guatemala posts about visiting Bernardo in prison. Bernardo has commented: “Knowing PBI is looking out for me in prison dissuades those who want to cause me harm.”

July 28, 2020: PBI-Guatemala accompanies Bernardo and the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) at Bernardo’s appeal hearings which were suspended again.

August 28, 2019: PBI-Guatemala accompanies representatives of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón during their complaint of the company Oxec for trying to build a third dam in its territory and for contributing to the criminalization of Bernardo.

July 24, 2019: PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón, visiting the members of the communities of Sacta, Sesaltul, Tuila, San Martín Chichaj, Secatalcab, Salac I and Tres Cruces.

August 2017: PBI-Guatemala provides security support to the good-faith consultation in which the 195 communities of the Cahabón River overwhelmingly rejected the Oxec hydroelectric projects.

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