PBI-Guatemala accompanies Q’eqchi’ river defender Bernardo Caal Xol on caravan home from prison to Santa María Cahabón
On March 26, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Today PBI accompanied Bernardo Caal Xol and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon in the caravan.”
“Dozens of people left Cobán, passed through San Pedro Carchá and Lanquín until they arrived at the municipal seat of Cahabon to celebrate the release of the community leader and water defender, sentenced and unjustly imprisoned for four years.”
Prensa Comunitaria also tweeted: “Bernardo Caal heads in a caravan to his municipality of Santa María Cahabón, making stops in San Pedro Carchá and Lanquín where neighbors receive him with joy. Caal was released from jail after serving four years in prison.”
Caal Xol arrives in Chi K’ajb’om, Santa Maria Cahabón.
Caal Xol was released from prison in Cobán on Thursday March 24 at around 10 pm.
He was criminalized in January 2018 and spent 1,520 days in prison for his peaceful opposition to the hydroelectric company Oxec S.A. building dams on the Ox-eek’ and Cahabón Rivers on Mayan Q’eqchi’ territory without free, prior and informed consent.
The night he was released Caal Xol said: “I was unjustly imprisoned for four years and two months, the people must not forget the persecution that we indigenous people live in Guatemala, just because voracious, murderous, discriminatory and racist capitalism wants the looting of natural resources.”
He also stated: “Today I am obtaining my freedom, it is a clear defeat and triumph over criminalization, maybe they hoped that with this imprisonment they would be defeating the struggle for the defense of the territories, but no.”
And Caal Xol highlighted: “The struggle continues, the struggle continues. We do not stop because today the Q’eqchi’ people are at the epicenter of dispossession and looting. …The defense of the rivers, in this case the Cahabón River continues. Until I achieved the freedom of those rivers, just as I obtained my freedom.”
He also spoke about the difficulty of travel between Cobán and Santa María Cahabón.
Caal Xol said: “It’s several hours to get to Cobán and it’s difficult (for the people in Santa María Cahabón). Now that I am free, I have to find them, greet them and tell them about the experience (of being in prison).”
Plaza Publica further explains: “From Cobán to Santa María Cahabón there are almost 90 kilometers, a complicated route due to the lack of transport and the cost it can mean for people in resistance, many of whom live in poverty and extreme poverty.”
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied Bernardo and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon since August 2017.
Bernardo Caal Xol, his wife Maria Isabel Matzir Miculax and their daughters Ni’kte ‘Ixch’umil Saqijix Caal Matzir and Chahim Yaretzi Ketzalí Caal Matzir.