The Consejo de Pueblos Wuxhtaj denounces new assault on indigenous peoples
In a statement released on August 6, 2015, the Consejo del Pueblo Wuxhtaj (CPW) of Guatemala denounced what is tantamount to a new assault on the Wuxhtaj people as a result of activities advancing hydroelectric projects.
In March of this year, ESCR-Net sent a letter to the President of the Republic of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina, to denounce the criminalization of human rights defenders from indigenous communities in the department of Huehuetenango. Read the letter here.
The letter outlined several development projects that have seriously impacted the human rights of people living in the area. Among the projects mentioned were the following: oil exploration and extraction by Loon Energy Corporation of Canada, hydroelectric development by the Spanish conglomerate Hidralia Energía-Ecoener-Hidro San Cruz, dams operated by Enel de Italia and Magdalena Group, and mining activities such as those carried out by Firestone Venture Company Inc.
Despite the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice to suspend the operation of the El Tambor Mine owned by Radius Gold, CPW observed that new machinery and equipment started to arrive in San Rafael las Flores on August 4, 2015. Beginning at the same time, officers of both the national army and police force established a presence to safeguard the equipment. According to CPW reports, these officers have been intimidating and harassing community members.
CPW has also communicated that a similar situation is unfolding in northern Huehuetenango. Beginning on August 2, 2015, a seemingly excessive military force was dispatched to the community of Pojom, San Mateo Ixtatan, Huehuetenango. As in San Rafael las Flores, the officers are there to oversee the installation of equipment for the construction of the Pojom 1 hydroelectric project of Hidralia Energía-Producciones de Desarrollo Hídrico (PDH).
CPW has emphatically condemned this new offensive initiated in bad faith by the Government of Guatemala and the extractive industry. These actions are being undertaken in a moment of institutional crisis characterized by broad social unrest resulting from false allegations made by companies against nine community leaders, leading them to be placed in preventive detention.
In addition, CPW has called on the Government of Guatemala to abstain from all activities of a corrupt and illegitimate nature that could serve to incite violence and crisis in Wuxhtaj communities, making residents victims of a economic model imposed by foreign entities. CPW has also respectfully reminded the Government of Guatemala that it will be held accountable for any consequences of the provocations occurring.
CPW is calling on all Guatemalans, as well as the international community to denounce this injustice and to be vigilant regarding the irresponsible actions that governments (Spanish says empresas) are carrying out in complicity with transnational companies.
For more information, visit the website of the Consejo de Pueblos Wuxhtaj by clicking here.