UPDATE: On May 15 a court in Huehuetenango unanimously resolved not to ratify the 33-years and 4-month sentence against Saúl Méndez and Rogelio Velásquez. The decision is the result of a special appealed filed on behalf of the community leaders from Santa Cruz Barillas. Their case will be re-tried in a Quetzaltenango court. The decision is seen as the first step in correcting a legal process filled with errors and irregularities.
Saúl and Rogelio still need your support! Click here to sign the online petition demanding their freedom!
An English translation of the petition text is below.
|Photo credit: Gustavo Illescas (CMI-Guatemala)
In the northern region of Guatemala, the Spanish transnational company HIDRALIA has dug its claws into the department of Huehuetenango. Exercising internationally and nationally guaranteed rights, the populations of the three municipalities in the north of Huehuetenango have carried out massive consultas (consultations) in which the citizens have have expressed their rejection of the exploitation of their natural resources by foreign companies.
Saúl Méndez and Rogelio Velásquez of Santa Cruz Barillas are prisoners unjustly. They have been persecuted by the company for years: In 2012, before being freed for lack of evidence, they spent eight months in preventative prison despite the fact the the legal maximum is three months. In a new case plagued with irregularities, they are currently in prison and sentenced to more than 33 years.
Led by ex-military Otto Pérez Molina, the Guatemalan government has ordered a multitude of detentions and arrest warrants that have been declared arbitrary by the UN, and has used all of its state power to the favor of transnational companies, using judicial and police power to incarcerate and persecute community leaders, reopening military bases, and ordering states of siege.
On April 29, 2015, another public hearing was held to resolve the appeals issued by the defense of Saúl and Rogelio. The result should be nothing less than complete absolution and reparations for damages suffered. We likewise demand that all prisoners who are unjustly held in preventive prison as a consequence of their opposition to the company’s planned projects be granted freedom.
Today more than ever, solidarity between peoples should be more than endearment. It should be consciousness, commitment, and struggle.
Sign in solidarity with the political prisoners of Barillas. In solidarity with their families. In solidarity with the people that raise their voices to say “ENOUGH.”
We demand freedom for Saúl Méndez and Rogelio Velazques, political prisoners from Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango, Guatemala, community leaders in the defense of land and territory. In a case plagued with irregularities, Mendez y Velázques have been condemned to 33 years and four months in prison for opposing the projects of the hydroelectric company Hidro Santa Cruz S.A., subsidiary of the Spanish Hidralia Energía S.A.
We likewise demand that all prisoners who are unjustly held in preventive prison as a consequence of their opposition to the company’s planned projects be granted freedom. Guatemalan state institutions are acting in favor of Hidro Santa Cruz S.A.
*National ID number (Passport, SSN, etc):
Locale: (City, State, United States)
Signature: Just your name again
*ID number not required