On December 23, 2023, the community of Aguacatán, Huehuetenago celebrated the publication of a Municipal Water Protection Agreement in the Official Journal of Central America (Diario Oficial de Centroamérica). The Water Protection Agreement symbolizes the recognition of Indigenous people’s right to land and water in the Municipal Code, and the power of local grassroots organizing.

The codification of certain provisions- which are ancestral truths that modern forces of capitalism and colonialism are attempting to erase- is a remarkable accomplishment and an example of the strategic prowess of the people of Huehuetenango.  For instance, this agreement, Act Number 0455-2,023, establishes that the Mayan people, inheriting a cosmovisión that respects all forms of life, understands Mother Water as their origin, being sacred and a way of preserving life. It also recognizes that all water is public domain, and “without water, there is no life.” 

The Water Protection Agreement also codifies protections for the Aguacatán community. It establishes that resources cannot be privatized under any circumstances. It also provides for the protection of all water sources, surface, underground, atmospheric, and more. Although the actualization of this agreement is another matter, these provisions are important first steps towards the guarantee of water for all the people of Aguacatán.

According to Victor Sales, Director of the Assembly of People of Huehuetenango in Defense of Territory and for the Autonomy and Self-Determination of the Peoples (ADH), the people of Aguacatán were overjoyed when they received this news. Each community representative received a copy of the Official Journal of Central America. 

The community of Aguacatán celebrated on December 23 with a mass to give thanks to sacred water and the Municipal Agreement, after which each community released fireworks. Victor Sales stated, “We loved to see how many people received the message in protection of water from the lead parish priest. The priest dedicated the majority of his sermon to the water.” This was followed by a public celebration, attended by the city mayor, ADH, a group of lawyers, Indigenous leaders, businesses, and more. (Watch the mass and celebration.) 

As NISGUA, we celebrate this accomplishment with the community of Aguacatán. It is a testament to years of local grassroots organizing. t. The right to clean running water is a basic necessity of life. We stand in solidarity with the fight for land and water, which will continue until land and water belong first to the people, and not corporations.

Around 10 community members under a yellow roof. In the foreground, a female-presenting person is reading a copy of the Official Journal of Central America. A male-presenting person is holding up a copy of the Official Journal of Central America

Photo Credit: Victor Sales. The Aguacatán community celebrating the publication of the Water Protection Agreement