PBI-Guatemala accompanies walk by Q’eqchi’ communities who demand OXEC be removed as member of COMUDE

Published by Brent Patterson on

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PBI-Guatemala has posted:

“[On February 26], #PBI accompanies the peaceful walk carried out by the Q’eqchi’ communities of Santa María Cahabón.

Around 300 people mobilized towards the municipality to demand the removal of the accreditation of the hydroelectric company OXEC as a member of the Municipal Development Council (COMUDE), and that no more licenses continue to be granted to hydroelectric companies.

The mayor received them to listen to their demands, to which he pledged to respond over the next month.

“Respect the good faith consultation in which 25,000 people participated” and “No more hydroelectric plants in Cahabón”, were some of the demands that could be read on the banners of the demonstrators.

It should be recalled that the region continues to suffer the effects of the hydroelectric company that has restricted the Cahabón river,”

Maya Q’eqchi’ journalist Carlos Ernesto Choc also tweeted:

“#Alta Verapaz Peaceful Walk in the municipality of Cahabón, Alta Verapaz, Maya Q’eqchi’ communities, hold a peaceful demonstration against Oxec hydroelectric projects.

They demand from the municipal mayor Abraham Chiquin, who won for the VAMOS party the cancellation of the Oxec 3 project and that the representatives of the COMUDE hydroelectric company resign.”

The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has previously explained: “The Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón is made of more than 190 Q’eqchi’ communities who live in the Cahabón River basin. Since 2015 they have organized around defense of territory and against the launch of the OXEC I and OXEC II hydroelectric projects installed on the Oxec River, a tributary of the Cahabón River.”

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón since July 2017.

Hatch and OXEC II

NS Energy has reported: “Hatch would be engaged to deliver the conceptual design and detailed design-build-engineering for the Oxec II Hydroelectric Project.”

Hatch was founded in Toronto, Canada, by W.S. Atkins as W.S. Atkins & Associates in 1955. It has offices around the world with its headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario.

From list of Hatch Ltd. office locations in Canada.

Commenting on OXEC II, Ian Ainslie, a Hatch project manager based in Niagara Falls, Ontario, noted: “Hatch has been active in developing hydroelectric sites in Guatemala for over 20 years.” And Hatch’s managing director of power, Jim Sarvinis, says: “Projects like Oxec II are exactly why we do the type of work we do at Hatch.”

OXEC II became operational in September 2018.


In April 2023, Power Technology noted: “Oxec III is a 75MW hydro power project. It is planned on Cahabon river/basin in Alta Verapaz. The project construction is likely to commence in 2025 and is expected to enter into commercial operation in 2027.”

On May 10, 2023, PBI-Canada observed a march by the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón in Guatemala City that included a banner that read: “We demand that the Oxec 3 licence be cancelled.”

Breakbulk Magazine has previously reported Hatch’s project manager for Oxec II Hooman Ghassemi “has been working on Oxec II since 2015 and finished the conceptual design for Oxec III [in 2017].”

We continue to follow the Q’eqchi’ resistance to dams on the Cahabon River.

Photo: Maya Q’eqchi environmental defender Bernardo Caal Xol spent four years in prison for his peaceful resistance to dams being built on ancestral territory without consent. He was released from prison in March 2022. PBI-Canada met with him on May 5, 2023, in Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.

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