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The Guatemalan Front Against Dams is born

The Guatemalan Front Against Dams is born


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By Gustavo Castro Soto

On July 30, 2005, the peoples of Guatemala have taken a historic step by forming the Guatemalan National Front Against Dams. Among the specific objectives were: to raise awareness among the affected communities, and in general among the population, about the negative effects of dams on a social, economic, ecological and cultural level.

The Guatemalan National Front Against Dams is born

On July 30, 2005, the peoples and communities of Guatemala have taken a historic step by forming the Guatemalan National Front Against Dams that is unprecedented in the country. On the banks of the great Usumacinta River that divides the border between Guatemala and Mexico, more than 300 delegates set themselves as a General Objective the “To form a National Movement of those affected and threatened by the construction of dams that fights for our lands and communities, and for the defense of water. " Among the specific objectives were: Raise awareness among affected and threatened communities, and in general among the population, about the negative effects of dams on a social, economic, ecological and cultural level; Raise awareness about the effects of concessions and / or privatizations related to water and electricity; Strengthen alliances between organizations and communities that fight against dams and oppose the privatization of water, forming a national movement to coordinate and strengthen the daily resistance and struggle throughout the country; and Reflect on alternatives for the communities that are compatible with their visions of life and development.


Despite the power cuts caused by the Spanish transnational Unión Fenosa, which is in charge of the privatization of electric power in the Peten region of Guatemala, the event was broadcast live on the radio installed at the event site. This meeting is framed in the context in which governments launch an offensive against the population through the privatization processes of four fundamental elements: land, water, electricity and biodiversity. All this goes hand in hand with the increasingly strengthened impulse for the implementation of monocultures for agro-exports (African palm and eucalyptus), the installation of maquiladoras and the concession of mining exploitation (gold, silver, aluminum, etc.) that require large amounts of water and electricity. Without water, electricity and communication, the investments expected under the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP) and the free trade agreements have no future for this model of supposed development. It is the same procedure that was carried out in Mexico prior to the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and that is now carried out within the framework of the Free Trade Agreement between the United States and America. Central (CAFTA for its acronym in English). In CAFTA as in NAFTA, multinationals require and demand legal security and land tenure to guarantee their investments and the extraction of resources.

The neoliberal onslaught and the new “Corporation-Nation” model have implied an increasingly large social and popular reaction whose social conflict has a shift from society-government to society-corporation confrontation. The peoples become more aware and acquire more information, mobilization and response capacity in order to seek new alternatives. Thus, the Central American front against mining companies has recently been formed. Possibly the most cohesive movement against mining companies will rise in Mexico since many concessions have been announced for mining exploitation in the hands of transnational companies, including the state of Chiapas, which has gold and aluminum in its territories. On the other hand, since 2002 the process of forming the Mesoamerican Movement against Dams began. Mexico and Guatemala have already formed their respective national networks and, although they are lacking in the other Central American countries, the struggle and resistance of the peoples crosses Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. It should be noted that in the Mesoamerican region more than 350 dam projects invade the region.

Below is the text of the Political Declaration:

Political Declaration

Cooperativa Los Laureles, La Libertad, Petén, Guatemala
July 28-31, 2005

Representatives of different communities, organizations, municipalities and departments of Guatemala and southern Mexico, mostly peasants and indigenous people, as well as international communities, have met with the objective of forming a national movement of those affected and threatened by the construction of dams, to fight for our lands and communities, and for the defense of water.

Three hundred and nine men and women from 42 organizations, from 8 departments of Guatemala and 3 states of Mexico, with the presence of colleagues from Italy, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, we have shared the experiences and the stories of the struggle in defense of our rivers and against the construction of dams and we have built common strategies to defend life and peace in our communities.

Taking into account that there are currently 17 hydroelectric dams in Guatemala that have caused flooding, displacement, dispossession of natural resources, death and destruction.

Considering that in Guatemala there are more than 33 hydroelectric projects that are registered in the neoliberal context, among which those planned in Baja Verapaz, Alta Verapaz, Petén, Quiché, Zacapa, Chiquimula, Izabal, Retalhuleu, Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango and San Marcos stand out .

Taking into account the national discussion around the initiative of the Concessions Law and the Water Law, which are closely related to the problem of dams since they propose a legal framework for the privatization of water resources and other natural resources. Thus:

We denounce:

  • That our communities are threatened by the dispossession of their lands and their natural resources by transnational companies interested in the generation of electricity, oil, mining and agribusiness, endorsed by the government.
  • That worldwide there are more than 40 million people displaced by dams, who suffer the economic, social and environmental consequences. Also, in Guatemala we have seen the massacre of more than 400 people where the Chixoy dam was built, and we continue to show solidarity with the displaced families who lost their lands and live in extreme poverty.
  • No consultation is made, nor is the opinion of the communities taken into account when deciding to build the hydroelectric dams, even though we will be the most affected.
  • The deception, lies and misinformation that the authorities, foreign businessmen and public officials do in the communities, denying the plans and hydroelectric projects and attacking the leadership of our organizations and dividing our communities.
  • In the same way, we denounce the media, which lend themselves to the game of government and advertise in favor of neoliberal projects such as the Plan Puebla Panama and FTA, and do not take into account the opinions and damages that this generates in our people . We believe that they have become merchants of lies, since to finance themselves, they are capable of deceiving and confusing our population.
  • We denounce the evictions and attempts to dispossess land and the hidden plans that the government and the powerful make in the communities where the dam projects have already been concessioned, such is the case of the Trece Aguas de Senahú and Chulac communities, in Santa María Cahabón, both in the department of Alta Verapaz; in Xálala and Serchil on the Chixoy River, Ixcán municipality, Quiché Department, whose feasibility and pre-feasibility studies have been awarded to the Colombian company INGETEC.

  • That despite 22 years having passed since the construction of the Chixoy dam, to this day they continue to wait for the fulfillment of the commitments made by INDE, without the governments of the day giving a solution to their problem. In addition, threats and attempts to smear the survivors and their organizations continue.

  • The expansion of protected areas that affect the life and survival of communities, such is the case of Semuc Champey in the municipality of Lanquín, Alta Verapaz and the Mirador basin, in Petén.

Faced with this, the organizations and communities participating in this Encounter

We demand:

  • The definitive cancellation of studies, construction and possible dam plans that the powerful have for our country.
  • We also want the total suspension of the mining and oil concessions that affect many communities in our national territory, since so far the government has not responded to the clamor of the population and has continued to support transnational mining and oil companies.
  • To the Congress of the Republic, that they do not approve the Water Law and the Concessions Law, since it is the legal framework that the companies and the powerful expect to carry out the privatization of our resources.
  • To the government and public officials, that they fulfill their task of working for citizens and that they do not deny the communities and their organizations information about projects that may affect their life and future.
  • To INDE, the government and the institutions involved, the immediate reparation of the damages caused to the comrades affected by the construction of the Chixoy dam.

Finally, we send our strongest solidarity to the Encounter against the La Parota dam, which is taking place these days in the community of Aguas Calientes, Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, encouraging them not to faint and continue their fight.

We invite all organizations and communities to participate in the 3rd. REDLA meeting (Latin American Network Against Dams and for Rivers, their Communities and Water, to be held between October 17 and 21 in Cubulco, Baja Verapaz.

In the same way, we join the organization and call to participate in the demonstrations against the IV World Water Forum, which will be held in Mexico City, in March 2006, convened by transnational companies and the World Bank.

We announce that in this meeting, we have made the decision to form the Guatemalan National Front Against Dams, to fight in a united, organized and solidarity way against hydroelectric plants and in defense of water. We thank all the organizations and institutions that have made this first meeting possible.

The water is ours, the dams kidnap it!
We human beings have the right to Life!
We are made of corn, but also of water!
Free Rivers and Living Rivers!

Guatemalan National Front Against Dams

Members:

Petén

  • Petenero Front Against Dams, which includes the communities on the banks of the Usumacinta, Pasión, Sainas and San Pedro rivers.
  • Alliance for Life and Peace
  • Guatemalan Women's Association Ixmucané
  • Agricultural Program, Pastoral de La Libertad
  • Youth CPR
  • Center for Research and Popular Education- CIEP
  • Association of Victims of the Armed Conflict
  • Q’eqchi ’Sayaxché Indigenous Council
  • Mayan Petén Health Promoters Association
  • Pastoral Social de Petén
  • Cooperativa Nuevo Horizonte
  • Association of Community Health Services –ASECSA Petén
  • UNCADI Association, Pastoral Social San Luis
  • Association of Spiritual Guides of Poptún, Petén
  • Association for Indigenous Development, Tierra Blanca Sayaxché
  • Elías Manuel Association
  • Radio Freedom
  • Lutheran World Federation Petén

Alta Verapaz:

  • Pastoral Socia de Cobán
  • Lanquín Parish Directive
  • UNICAN Indigenous Peasant Unit of Cahabón
  • UVOC - Verpacense Union of Peasant Organizations
  • Lajep Canil, La Tinta
  • Yalicar village, La Chúa municipality of Cobán

Suchitepéquez - Retalhuleu

  • Peasant Development Committee - CODECA Cuyotenango

Only the:

  • CCDA - Peasant Committee of Altiplano, San Lucas Tolimán.

Ixcán:

  • Municipal Coordinator of Ixcán
  • Pastoral Social del Ixcán
  • Serjus - Ixcán Process
  • Fountain of Peace

Quiche:

  • CONAVIGUA - Coordinator of Widows of Guatemala

Huehuetenango:

  • Association for the sustainable development of the Huista mancomunidad - ADSOSMHU
  • Association and Technical Team for Community Health Education - ETESC
  • CONCAD - Christian Development Council

Baja Verapaz:

  • ASCRA - COCAICH
  • ACSODIMA - Maya Achí Integral Association

Mexico:

  • COMPPA - Popular Communicators for Autonomy
  • CIEPAC - Center for Economic, Political and Community Action Research
  • The Voice of Our Heart
  • Chiapaneco Front Against Dams
  • Education for Peace -Edupaz
  • Mexican Center for Environmental Law -CMDA

Other countries

  • Lutheran Federation, World Service Department,
    Caritas Italy

So far the text of the Declaration. It should be noted that the political position of the Front is shared with that of the Mesoamerican movement and with the struggles of South America: no more dams. Therefore, the popular movement faces two great challenges: stopping the construction of more dams and looking for sustainable and decentralized alternatives to generate electricity, capture water, generate irrigation or control floods. www.EcoPortal.net

* Gustavo Castro Soto
CIEPAC
Website: http://www.ciepac.org/


Video: International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Bernice Steinhardt (May 2022).


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