We, the indigenous authorities, the ancestral cocodes authorities, women’s committees from the different indigenous communities of Ixcan, Cobán and Uspantan that compose the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources – ACODET- assembled today in the Q’eqchi Xalala indigenous community of the borough of Ixcan, in the celebration of our thirteenth ordinary general assembly with the aim of electing the new board of director of ACODET 2021-2023. Moreover, draw up and plan the work lines for the 2021, regarding the struggle that the communities carry out to care for, protect and defend our territory against threats from business interests and the Guatemalan government in wanting to implement megaprojects in our territory.
BEFORE THE PUBLIC OPINION, WE EXPRESS:
- The member communities of ACODET express our concern about the new business and government plans for the definitive authorizations for the installation of hydroelectric plants granted by the Ministry of Energy and Mines in the current government of Alejandro Giammattei to build hydroelectric plants in the territory of the People Maya Q’eqchi’ without the free, prior, and informed consent of the affected communities, including:
- The Xalala hydroelectric project, which continues to be a development interest for the INDE and the Guatemalan government, and a threat to the communities living in the Copon and Chixoy river basins, since this project reappears in the report published in te expansion plan, fot the generation of energy 2020-2050 which makes mention that the Xalala dam completes its construction by the year 2032.
- The Cuatro Chorros hydroelectric project, on the river with the same name in the Lancetillo parish, is being promoted by people close to deputies of the Congress of the Republic, who are part of the corrupt pact and are thereby discrediting the work of the indigenous authorities and creating divisiveness within the Lancetillo parish community, which has sought a mechanism to promote its energy autonomy.
- We denounce the criminal prosecution against four teammates from the Lancetillo parish who have been criminalized for exercising their functions as indigenous authorities, defenders of water and territory.
- The ACODET communities are concerned about the actions of the current government and the corrupt pact that intend to fully co-opt the justice institutions in Guatemala, including the Constitutionality Court which is the highest guarantor justice institution of the fulfillment of human rights, so it should not be lent to the service of the oligarchy that has bled our country for many years.
- We denounce the different attacks against human rights and territory defenders who, for exercising their right to life, their right to water and territory, have been killed, criminalized, and unjustly condemned, such is the case of our brother Bernardo Caal Xol.
- We condemn the actions of the state of Guatemala in approving millions of loans with the argument of facing COVID-19, however, the negligence of all sectors of the country is still evident and because of this many Guatemalans lost and continue to lose their lives.
FOR THE AFORESAID, WE DEMAND
We require the government of Guatemala and national and international companies to immediately cease all threats to plunder our common goods, the kidnapping, detour and alteration of the Chixoy, Copon and Cuatro Chorros rivers due to the construction of hydroelectric plants mentioned above, since in Guatemala there is no need to build more hydroelectric plants because 4.068 MW are produced in the country and the national demand is only 1.749 MW and the rest of the energy goes to other countries such as Mexico, USA and Canada, the construction of more dams in the country, the only thing that generates is poverty, divisionism, alteration to community harmony, drought in crops, land dispossession among others.
To the State of Guatemala that before approving legislative or administrative measures, in any territory inhabited by indigenous people, must first comply with its obligation to inform, consult, and obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the people, as established in the agreement 169 of the International Labor Organization – ILO.
To the deputies of Congress, not to continue passing laws that favor companies and that threaten life and territory, especially that of indigenous people. Additionally, we demand that the Guatemalan State respect and recognize the good faith community consultations that carries out in the boroughs of Ixcan and Uspantan, which resulted in a resounding rejection of the implementation of megaprojects in our territory.
We demand that the local authorities of Cobán, Ixcan and Uspantan not be accomplices of the hydroelectric construction companies in regions of the three boroughs.
The public prosecutor investigates those responsible for the constant attacks on human rights defenders and nullifies the acts of criminalization that mostly respond to private interests. Likewise, we demand respect for the traditional authorities of the communities that exercise the right to self-determination.
WE RAINFORCED OUR COMMITEMENT
The communities present at this assembly ratify our unswerving struggle to continue defending our territory and our rivers against any threat. Just as we have done against the Xalala hydroelectric project during these fourteen years.
We will continue to fight for the recognition of our right of historical possession of the land, as we are doing the communities of Los Copones, Ixcan and in some communities of micro region X of in the Reyna Uspantan area in exercise of our constitutional rights established on article 67 of the Political Constitution of the Republic and articles 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the Agreement 169 in its part II: Lands.
Before everything manifested, we make a call to all other people, grassroots movements, and social organizations to remain vigilant of the situation that day by day submerges our country and that we do not give up in our struggle for dignified life and an inclusive country.
For the defense of life, natural assets, and human rights. Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources – ACODET- March 20, 2021.
“WATER, LAND AND ENERY ARE NOT MERCHANDISES”