Read this statement that our partners from the Departmental Assembly of Peoples of Huehuetenango (ADH) have written demanding “the world bank to stop investing money in projects that only destroy humanity and our Cosmos.”

Logo of the ADH

The Departmental Assembly of Peoples of Huehuetenango, ADH, informs the national and international community:

This June 23, 2020 marks the thirteenth anniversary of the Good Faith Community Consultation that was held in Santa Cruz Barillas. A political event known and remembered by the peoples of Huehuetenango, from Guatemala and the world, for having been one of the most participative expressions in defense of natural assets and the political repositioning of the Maya Q’anjob’al People and of the Original Peoples.

The Assembly of Peoples of Huehuetenango, ADH, greets the People of Santa Cruz Barillas in this commemoration at the precise moment that, after five years of waiting, CAO1 presents us with its Research Report on Environmental and Social Performance of the IFC in relation to the Inter-American Corporation for the Financing of Infrastructure, S.A. (CIFI), as a result of the complaint lodged with the world bank about the vandalism committed by the Hidro Santa Cruz company, who used funds from this bank in its effort to implement the Cambalan 1 hydroelectric project against the will of the communities.

It is known to all that the imposition of this hydroelectric project profoundly and painfully transformed the life of an entire region, but in particular that of Santa Cruz Barillas, since the owners of this project sowed terror, using violence to strip, intimidate, persecute, imprison and assassinate those who legitimately defended their territory, the Q´anb´alam river bed, and their right to decide what type of development they aspired for their communities. To this day, the consequences of this repression is still felt and it has become evident how the Guatemalan State and the government in power have protected criminals like the Castro Valdivia brothers and others who, with impunity, collaborated to strip the people of Barrillas of their property.

The CAO report, although not conclusive, does provide evidence “that the IFC violated its own social and environmental supervision rules, including guidelines for managing the security forces, and that the consequences of the project had caused continued damage to the community.” With that said, the IFC, in their response to the investigation of the CAO didn’t recognize these facts, they only “regret” that a “small project caused so many inconveniences”. The response from this organization, for the ADH, is plagued with racism, with indolence, with irresponsibility, but above all with impunity.

It is clear that the reading of events that occurred in Santa Cruz Barillas, during eight years, that led to the State of Siege of May 2, 2012, in the unjust imprisonment of more than twenty community leaders, ancestral authorities and defenders of territory, in the murder of Andrés Francisco Miguel, in the suffering of women, of communities and of a whole people, for the IFC are “civil disturbances”. Instead for us, they have been years of suffering, of losses of all kinds. The lives of those affected by the Hidro Santa Cruz project were never the same again.

It is clear to us that instances such as the CAO and IFC, are arms that defend the interests of the world bank. That is why the responses given do not surprise us, but what does not cease to outrage us is the impunity with which the murderers act and wash their hands. In their response, the IFC excuses themselves and argues that this experience in Santa Cruz Barillas, has served them to “learn and improve their processes and operating regulations”. This declaration is more proof of the inhumane treatment with which the world bank treats the communities and the Peoples that it paradoxically says “support for their development.”

As the Assembly of the Peoples of Huehuetenango, ADH, we tell the world bank that the murder, imprisonment and suffering of women and men, children and young people of Santa Cruz Barillas, who also defended their territory, has no price.

As the ADH, we express our solidarity with the communities of Santa Cruz Barillas, with the former political prisoners and their families, whom we accompany in defense of their freedom, and with our colleague Rubén Herrera and family who suffered persecution, criminalization and prison by Hidro Santa Cruz. .

To the international community, to the national and international organizations that have accompanied us in defense of our rights, we call on them to speak out in the face of the impudence and impunity with which the world bank acts and to speak out and show solidarity with the community of Santa Cruz Barillas.

We demand that the world bank stop investing money in projects that only destroy humanity and our Cosmos.
Let’s all
stand against the impunity of the world bank.
Huehuetenango, June 22, 2020

1 Office of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) and International Finance Corporation, Members of the World Bank Group.