We, representatives of the communities of La Costa Sur, Huehuetenango and the Indigenous Local Government of San Juan Cotzal, have convened in the Ixil territory of K’usal to share and exchange experiences of our wisdom for the defense of territory, reiterating our commitment to search for harmony and equilibrium with Mother Earth, for protection of natural goods, to maintain a clean and healthy environment that promotes the development of our communities and that of future generations.

We express our concerns with the multiple effects that the megaprojects, extractive projects, and monocultures have on our territories and rights. In addition, we express our profound concern with the lack of mechanisms and policies that permit the proper use of natural assets, the disrespect to human rights like consultation and free determinación, and the ways and means of life of the communities and the increase of socio-environmental and cultural problems in different territories in the country.

The environmental and social problems have increased in an alarming manner in recent years. The increase of clandestine garbage dumps, the immoderate use of waste products, the contamination of sources of water with agrotoxins and for the gray water landfills and wastes of the agroindustry, the contamination generated by the aerial fumigation and sugar harvest, the stopping and redirection of rivers, the drying, salinization, contamination, and reduction of water sources, land grabbing by companies among others. Thus they violate our right to water, health, food, healthy environment, affecting the forms and ways of life of our communities, constituting grave violations to human rights.

These environment and social problems relate directly with the model of capitalist development propelled by businesses, have stripped the families and communities of their lands, this model of development is based only and exclusively on the search of economic growth of a select few, happening above human rights, irrespective of the forms and ways of life of communities and wellbeing of the majority.

We see that this model contradicts our proposal of development for the communities of la Costa Sur, Huehuetenango and the Ixil region, which is based in promoting the food sovereignty through the diversification of harvests and agroecology, the recovery of our local practices, in the use and management of natural and local resources, the strengthening of the organization and work in network, searching for self-sufficiency and harmony and equilibrium with Mother Earth, this leading to the prevalence of the resources for the future generations.

Before this situation that we experience the communities of the different territories DENOUNCE:

1. The intent of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food and businesses of agrochemicals in Guatemala to continue with the promotion of the iniciativa of Law for the Protection of Plant Varieties (UPOV) called the Monsanto Law, that which attacks the means of production of families, especially against native and creole plants.

2. The intimidation, threats, and criminalization of the community leaders on part of the businesses which divide and generate conflicts in the communities. We have it clear that their only objective is to discredit us as defenders of our land and to stop the defense of our human rights.

3. The lack of support by the Government to search for immediate solutions to the environmental problems that allow the communal wellbeing of the population such as the lack of will, response, and support of public institutions like the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources -MARN-, the Public Ministry, the Attorney’s Office of Human Rights, the Municipalities and Governance to attend to the denunciations and demands already presented by the communities of the Costa Sur before the systematic abuses of the agroindustry to divert rivers, contaminate sources of water with agrotoxins, and dump their wastes, the groundwater hoarding which has generated the mortality of fish and other acuatic species, in addition to the contamination generated by air fumigations and sugar harvest.

4. The grabbing, stopping, and diversion of rivers by monocultures, hydroelectrics, the mine, and other extractive projects that are impacting directly the families and communities through lack of water for their use and consumption in the Costa Sur, Huehuetenango and San Juan Cotzal.

5. Corporate social responsibility and due diligence are not sufficient to mitigate and compensate for the environment and social impacts generated on the forms and means of life of the communities in the different territories that are present today.

6. The little to no treatment of residual waters in the department of Huehuetenango, Retalhuleu, and Quiché where the main rivers of the regions are contaminated.

In the face of this situation, WE URGE:

1. To the three powers of the State, that they listen to the people and communities and that they stop without EFFECT the advances to promote the LAW MONSANTO, since native and creole plants form part of the NETWORK of the life of the people and communities, and they are not only GOODS to be marketed. And we urge the approval of the initiative of Law of Biodiversity and ancestral knowledge 6086.

2. We demand that the State resume with urgency the collective construction and the approval of a Law of waters and their public policy from the approach of the people to regulate the use and exploitation of vital liquid to the end of guaranteeing as priority the right of the people and communities of water.

3. That they cease the threats, persecution, defamation, and criminalization of the community leaders who are defending Mother Earth, water, life, and wellbeing.

4. We urge to the Public Ministry the out of office investigations that must be carried out based in the denunciations presented by the communities for the grave violations to human rights, especially in relation to the cases of environmental contamination, stopping and diversion of rivers such as impact on health. In addition, the MP should stop the criminalization of the defense of rights.

5. That the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources -MARN- resume immediately the denunciations and processes in environmental subject for the diversion and the contamination of rivers in Costa Sur that started in 2016, and that they shelved to give priority to the tables of dialogue that only have been dilatory measures that have not had any impact on the communities impacted by the agroindustry and the megaprojects.

6. Comply with the judgments No. 156-2013 and 159-2013 of the Court of Constitutionality issued on March 25, 2015, in favor of the ancestral Authorities of the Municipality of San Juan Cotzal that ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines the required consultation to the Ixil people of Cotzal for the project of transport of energy of TRANSNOVA S.A., subsidized by ENEL Green Power.

7. That they promote the restoration of the forests, the respect to their own ways of life in indigenous communities, this being the management and protection of water.

8. To the municipalities of Huehuetenango that they can … the corresponding budget so that the actions described in each one of the agreements of protection of water approved are complied with fully such as the diffusion and publication of the same in the Journal of Central America.

9. We ask the Guatemalan population to reduce the consumption of products like sugar, sugary drinks, and palm oil that contaminate our environment and that today generate an increase of chronic illnesses like diabetes, kidney and heart problems, malnutrition, such as increase of solid waste that contaminate our territories. The fight of our land begins with defending our bodies.

10. We ask the international community to take action, since many of the products that are exported like sugar, palm oil, and electric energy to countries like the United States, Canada, Europe, and Central American countries are produced generating serious violations of human rights.

We call on social organizations and the general population to join the defense of territory towards protecting our community natural assets and promote the development from the cosmovision of the people and communities.

We defend, not sell, our community!
Without gold, you live, without water, you die!
San Juan Cotzal, Quiché, April 7, 2024