PBI-Guatemala accompanies Q’eqchi’ river defender Bernardo Caal Xol at press conference
On March 31, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted: “PBI accompanies the press conference of Bernardo Caal Xol.”
The video of the 45-minute press conference can be seen here.
Yesterday, Bernardo had posted: “National and international media, friends and friends, we wait for you tomorrow at the press conference where I will be present addressing the topic of my freedom and the situation of the rivers of Guatemala, also my lawyers will be there that. They are with the criminal proceedings.”
Caal Xol was released from prison in Cobán on Thursday March 24 at around 10 pm. On Saturday March 26, PBI-Guatemala accompanied him and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon as he left Cobán and returned to Santa María Cahabón.
EFE reports: “At a press conference on Thursday, [he] gave his first impressions to the media after leaving prison.”
That article adds: “The Oxec I and II hydroelectric plants are owned by the Energy Resources Corp. business group, registered in Panama, and were built in Alta Verapaz by the company Grupo Cobra-ACS, belonging to the businessman Florentino Pérez, president of the Spanish football club Real Madrid.”
Caal Xol says: “All the business chambers came together to criminalize me, they defamed me until they managed to imprison me.”
“The great crime I have committed is to have spoken out against the hydroelectric plants that were built on the Cahabón River, which are illegal. …It is embarrassing what these companies are doing. …I am innocent and I go out with my face raised.”
He added: “The Q’eqchi people’ will continue their struggle for the defense of the territory.”
Bernardo 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 Bernardo 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.”
And he 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.”
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied Bernardo and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon since August 2017.