“Water is Life”: Guatemalan March for Water Rights Connects Struggles Across Latin America

April 29, 2016 Jeff Abbott 0

“Water is life” is the message that countless organizations across Guatemala have rallied around as thousands march more than 260 miles to demand that the Guatemalan government act, and protect right to water. Tens of thousands of protesters set out on the long, and grueling march to Guatemala City on April 11 to demand that the government protect their right to water, and for an end to the privatization of water resources.

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Guatemalan Campesino Organizations Mobilize to Demand Agrarian Reform, Energy Nationalization

April 9, 2016 Jeff Abbott 0

On February 10, 2015, thousands of indigenous campesinos from across Guatemala associated with the Committee for Campesino Development (CODECA) took to the streets of Guatemala City in the first large march of the administration of Jimmy Morales. The campesinos were continuing a decade-long struggle to demand that the Guatemalan government nationalize the electrical system.

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Indigenous Communities in Guatemala Fight Against the Privatization of Sacred Sites

March 5, 2016 Jeff Abbott 0

In recent years, the popular tourist attraction of Semuc Champey in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz has become a point of social conflict for the indigenous Q’eqchi’ Mayan communities surrounding the site. On February 8, tensions erupted and led to the occupation of the municipality building of Lanquín by over 200 members of the communities near the tourist attraction. Community members demanded the recuperation of the site. Since that day, residents have maintained management of the park. As the indigenous-led recuperation of this park continues, the conflict has shed light on a longstanding dilemma in Guatemala around indigenous communities’ access to sacred sites. […]

A Labyrinth of Injustice in Guatemala: Indigenous Activists Struggle Against Dispossession of Land and Rights

January 30, 2016 Jeff Abbott 0

Family, friends and supporters of Saúl Méndez and Rogelio Velásquez, two political prisoners who had been falsely accused of femicide, kidnapping, and murder, received some joyous news on January 14, 2016; after three years in prison, they were released. However, six other prominent activists from northern Huehuetenango still face prosecution for their resistance to hydroelectric projects imposed in their territory by transnational corporations.

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“The Power to Defend Our Territory:” Indigenous Communities Win Consulation Law in Guatemala

November 19, 2015 Jeff Abbott 0

The Ixil communities’ victory against the expansion of hydro in their territory comes after a campaign by the communities to protect their rights as indigenous peoples to prior consultation in Guatemala’s courts. Furthermore, this victory, as well as other victories, sets a precedent that companies must consult communities, and receive the community’s consensus prior to any project.

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Social Movement Leaders Cleared of False Femicide Charges in Guatemala

November 11, 2015 Jeff Abbott 0

Last month, Rogelio Velásquez and Saúl Méndez, active members and leaders of the defense of territory in northern Huehuetenango, were acquitted of charges of femicide. Their community of Santa Cruz Barillas has been in resistance to the Santa Cruz hydroelectric project under construction by the Spanish firm Ecoener Hydro Energy. They argue that the dam will greatly affect their land and water. The case against Velásquez and Méndez reflect the use of laws, such as Guatemala’s 2008 Law on Femicide and Other Forms of Violence Against Women to criminalize the leaders of the social movements challenging the construction of mega-projects by transnational companies.

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Alto Palma

Guatemalan Court Orders Palm Company to Suspend Operations

September 24, 2015 Jeff Abbott 0

A Guatemalan judge has ordered the oil palm company Reforestadora Palma de Petén S.A. (REPSA), to suspend operations at their Sayaxché palm plantation, pending an investigation into the environmental disaster in the Pasión River, which led to the death of millions of fish in May and June of 2015. Sayaxché community leader Roberto Lima Choc was assassinated the day after the judicial order.

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