The Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango in Defense of Territory and for the Autonomy and Free Determination of the People – ADH – informs the national and international community:

During 1981, 1982, 1983, the Guatemalan Army massacred the Achí communities that lived on the banks of the Chixoy River; 444 people, including youth, children, men and women were executed. The justification of the massacre was the existence of an internal armed conflict, but in reality, they carried out this strategy in order to clean the zone and implant the construction of the Chixoy hydro-electric project. The National Electrification Institute – INDE – was responsible for the execution of this project, having received a loan from the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank for almost 1 billion dollars. In 2012, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights condemned the State of Guatemala for the massacres of Rio Negro and called for fulfillment of the reparations to the victims’ family members for the damages caused, including the expropriation of land, crops, animals, identity and culture.

On January 17, 2014, after a 32-year community struggle, the Congress and President of the United States made a declaration demanding that the State of Guatemala and Otto Pérez Molina should pay the $154,000,000 in damages to the victims. The response of “ Mr. President “ was immediate: “To give these communities $154,000,000, is like saying that we are going to privilege these communities and leave others out.”  “Mr. President” this is a historic debt owed by the Guatemalan State to the victims of the massacres and the civilized world. The communities of Río Negro continue living in extreme poverty and in inhumane conditions. Your response, “Mr. President”, is irresponsible and aberrant.

Today, February 7, 2014, the Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango – ADH – and the people of Santa Cruz Barillas, demand that the military government of Otto Pérez Molina respond responsibly and quickly to resolve once and for all the conflict in Barillas. 31 years later, the same methods are being repeated by Hidralia-Hidro Santa Cruz. It is time to end the conflict created by the Spanish company in its attempt to implant two hydro-electric projects in the Q’am’balam River. The conflict has gone on for five years and has resulted in the persecution, intimidation, and co-opting of community leaders. There have been assassinations, imprisonment; there is fear and terror. “Mr. President,” it is necessary to stop these companies.

The sad and terrifying story of Chixoy is related to the current persecution in Barillas through international financial institutions. The World Bank and the Inter- American Development Bank are financing Hidro Santa Cruz through the Inter-American Corporation for Infrastructure Financing (CIFI), which in 2010 provided financing for the Canbalam hydroelectric dam. In 2008, CIFI received an $80,000,000 loan from the International Financial Corporation of the World Bank Group.  In 2001, CIFI received $10,000,000 from the Inter-American Investment Corporation of the Inter-American Development Bank. We believe that these investments are responsible for the human rights violations and the damages suffered by the communities of Barillas.

Mr. Otto Pérez Molina, do you want to continue protecting companies that act illegally? What do you and your government stand to gain? Will you continue to repress the Q’anjob’al and Mestizo communities of Santa Cruz Barillas? Or what are your plans for this region that has been abandoned by the state of Guatemala?

For all of the previous reasons, as the ADH we demand:

A: The end to persecution, repression and criminalization of community leaders.
B: That the Spanish company Hidralia-Hidro Santa Cruz be expelled from the country given the harm it has caused to the communities of Barillas.
C: That Hidralia-Hidro Santa Cruz pay material, physical, physiological and cultural damages to the victims.

We call on:

  • International organizations and the Inter American Commission on Human Rights – IACDH to visit in order to investigate the damages caused by Hidralia-Hidro Santa Cruz and that they issue a public statement.
  • The governments of Europe, Canada and Latin America to investigate and make a public statement against the improper use given to funds provided by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank.
  • International solidarity organizations to denounce these acts and remain vigilant to the evolution of Otto Pérez Molina’s military government so that he upholds his responsibilities and that the persecution, repression and criminalization ends.
  • National organization to close our ranks in solidarity and unity of the People.

We demand liberty for our political prisoners.

The people of Barillas are not responsible for the violence; they are the object of a dark plan of repression and criminalization.

We are all Barillas
Life and Territory have no owner

Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango – ADH – February 7, 2014