In the face of the ongoing threat by mega-development projects and extractive industries to indigenous and campesino peoples’ natural resources, and in particular to their water sources, the Departmental Assembly of the Peoples of Huehuetenango (ADH) held a day-long meeting to discuss strategies for their protection. The ADH, a grassroots organization that coordinates with community members in defense of territory across Huehuetenango, concluded the meeting with a press conference calling on Guatemalan authorities to fulfill their obligation to guarantee the people’s right to water and a healthy environment.
Read NISGUA’s translation of the full press statement below. Read the original version in Spanish here.
Members of the Departmental Assembly of the Peoples of Huehuetenango speak to the press on January 20.
Before a national and international public
The Representatives of the peoples in resistance united together in the Departmental Assembly of the Peoples of Huehuetenango – ADH – express our concern about the lack of justice in our country and the high rates of impunity, in which corruption continues to prevail.
We are also concerned by the management of our waters; without the existence of a state policy to protect them, they are in danger of privatization, commercialization, and pollution.
Moreover, we are enormously concerned by and alert the people of Guatemala about the threats to our lands, water, and the lives of all living creatures, that the powerful business sector in complicity with the president and the Congress of the Republic, are driving forward through the following initiatives from different sectors:
The regulation of the referendum process; policies that criminalize social protest; infrastructure laws in favor of private-public construction; a competition agenda, tax persecution; a water law that prioritizes privatization; eviction policies [that impact] the poorest communities; the re-routing of rivers and appropriation of waters by big companies and agro-business; the commercialization of seeds and plant varieties; the militarization of security forces, model cities and special development zones; the disappearance of democratic institutionalism; all initiatives that seek to strengthen the [neo]liberal state.
All of these congressional initiatives are the continuation of a strategy of plunder and cooptation against the people, which is why we urgently and immediately call on national authorities to stop these initiatives, which will only hurt the people of Guatemala.
These authorities, according to Constitutional mandate, are obligated to guarantee the lives and wellbeing of Guatemalan residents, so that they may enjoy the human right to a healthy environment and other rights such as security and the human right to water.
We ask the population to be attentive and alert and to follow up on these processes in order to take peaceful action at the appropriate moment.
THE HOMELAND MUST NOT BE RENTED, NOR SOLD. THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE OF GUATEMALA MUST BE RESPECTED AND DEFENDED.
Huehuetenano, Saturday, Janaury 20, 2018
Departmental Assembly of the Peoples of Huehuetenango