Saturday, May 19, 2012

Urgent Communique - State of Siege in Santa Cruz Barillas Lifted

Unofficial translation by NISGUA - Original Spanish Below
Traducción no oficial por NISGUA - Español abajo

In defense of Life, Territory, the Mother Earth and the Collective Rights of the Peoples


In light of the announcement of the lifting of the state of siege in the Municipality of Santa Cruz Barillas of the department of Huehuetenango, we as the Western Peoples' Council


1. We welcome that the President of the Republic has reconsidered his decision; hopefully he understands that it is not possible to continue imposing and using military strategies to respond to the legitimate demands of the Indigenous Peoples and citizens in general.

2. The right of the Indigenous Peoples to free, prior and informed consultation is and will continue to be our fundamental demand. Consequently, we demand the cancellation of the Cambalam [hydroelectric] license, granted without the due respect and guarantee of the right to consultation.

3. We seek the immediate liberation of those detained under the illegal and imposed state of siege, and we demand of the Attorney General of the Republic and Chief of the Public Prosecutor's Office an immediate cease to the persecution of the inhabitants “accused” in Santa Cruz Barillas.

We demand a deep and urgent investigation, as well as the sanctioning of those responsible materially and intellectualy for the attempt on the life of Andrés Francisco Miguel (deceased), Pablo Antonio Pablo and Esteban Bernabé (gravely injured).

4. We urge the President of the Republic, Otto Pérez Molina, to learn from the errors committed in the treatment of the problems in Santa Cruz Barillas. The respect of human rights is an obligation in democratic states.

Solidarity among the Peoples and their organizations is the way to guaranteeing our rights . . . Thank you.

From the west, May 18, 2012.


En Defensa de la Vida, el territorio, la Madre Tierra y Derechos colectivos de los pueblos


Ante el anuncio del levantamiento del estado de sitio en el Municipio de Santa Cruz Barillas del departamento de Huehuetenango, el Consejo de Pueblos Mayas de Occidente


1. Valoramos que el Presidente de la República haya recapacitado en su decisión y ojalá comprenda que no se puede seguir imponiendo y respondiendo con estrategias militares a las legítimas demandas de los Pueblos Indígenas y de los ciudadanos en general.

2. El derecho a la consulta previa, libre e informada de los Pueblos Indígenas es y seguirá siendo nuestra exigencia fundamental. En consecuencia exigimos la cancelación de la licencia Cambalam otorgada sin respetar y garantizar el derecho de consulta.

3. Pretendemos la inmediata liberación de los detenidos en el marco del ilegal estado de sitio impuesto; y requerimos a la Fiscal General de la República y Jefa del Ministerio Público el cese inmediato de la persecución en contra de los habitantes “acusados” de Santa Cruz Barillas.

Demandamos una profunda y urgente investigación y sanción a los responsables materiales e intelectuales del atentado contra Andrés Francisco Miguel (Fallecido), Pablo Antonio Pablo y Esteban Bernabé (gravemente heridos).

4. Instamos al presidente de la República Otto Pérez Molina que aprenda de los errores cometidos en el abordaje de la problemática en Santa Cruz Barillas. El respeto a los derechos humanos es una obligación en los Estados democráticos.

La solidaridad de los Pueblos y sus organizaciones, es el camino hacia la conquista de nuestros derechos…Gracias.

Desde el occidente del país, 18 de mayo de 2012


Friday, May 11, 2012

We are all Barillas - Statement of the Western Peoples' Council

Unofficial translation by NISGUA
Comunicado original en español

¡In Defense of Life, Territory, Mother Earth and the collective Rights of our Peoples!

No to the submission of the Guatemalan state to multinational companies.  Yes to life.

Our indigenous brothers and sisters around the world
And the national and international public

Our people have a long history of ongoing struggle to defend Mother Earth in the face of multinational companies that operate with the support of the Guatemalan state apparatus.  This situation in the country worsened on May 1 with the continuation of a plan of repression against community resistance.

Nine days have passed since the cowardly assassination of community leader Andrés Francisco Miguel and the attack on Pablo Antonio Pablo and Esteban Bernabé Gaspar, two others leaders who were injured. Security personnel from Hidro Santa Cruz Anonymous Society, in charge of the Cambalam I project, caused the attack.  Once again, institutions in charge of investigations to identify and prosecute the material and intellectual authors of this crime have failed to act quickly to comply with the Rule of Law.

This catalyzing incident led the government to decree a State of Siege and to reposition the Army and the National Civil Police Force to protect company interests as part of a pre-established plan.  Over the course of the past nine days, government forces have once again installed a state of terror, displacement and pillage in Q'anjob'al territory, as well as other communities and adjoining indigenous territories.  Communities have suffered numerous types of abuses.  Fundamental human rights, both individual and collective, have been curtailed and violated.

The establishment of a State of Siege only demonstrates the incapacity of state institutions to promote the participation of the [nation's] most marginalized communities in integral processes to guarantee their own well-being and uphold their basic rights.

We hold the military government of Otto Pérez Molina responsible for acting in complicity with the Hidro Santa Cruz, S.A., a company that has, in numerous ways, disrupted the harmony, peace and ways of community life.   The State of Siege, with raids, arrests and the sacking of family belongings, has once again forced [the population] to emigrate from their communities looking for refuge in other departments and in Mexico.  The brutal actions carried out recently exceed those employed during the armed conflict, while at the same time confirming their continuity.  Leaders have been detained despite the lack of evidence to incriminate them.  The Public Prosecutor's Office and the judges should release [these individuals] immediately, as two of our sisters have already been released.

The re-militarization of our indigenous territories constitutes a gross violation of international humanitarian laws ratified by the Guatemalan state and of the Peace Accords, which the president himself signed.

We, as indigenous peoples, along with broader social movements, have contributed to a proposed alternative model founded in the appropriate, equitable and responsible use of natural resources.  The proposal has continuously been refused in order to prioritize the voracity of the neoliberal model violently imposed upon us.

As the Western Peoples' Council:

1. We stand in solidarity with our brother ANDRÉS FRANCISCO MIGUEL and we demand that the state and the company compensate his family.  The blood he shed in Poza Verde will not remain in impunity.  His story feeds and strengthens our fight for the construction of a new dawn for our peoples.

2. We stand in solidarity with our wounded brothers Pablo Antonio Pablo, Esteban Bernabé Gaspar, the 15 people arbitrarily detained and the families who have had to flee and seek refuge locally and internationally.

3. We call upon our brothers and sisters of the municipality of Barillas to maintain their unity and conviction in the struggle for the defense of our territories as a legacy of our grandfathers and grandmothers.

4. We demand respect for life, an end to the pillaging of our Mother Earth, the cancellation of the State of Siege, and an official declaration that the mining law is unconstitutional.

5. We denounce the deputies of the Congress of the Republic who ratified the State of Siege as accomplices in the violation of constitutional order.

6. We request that the Constitutional Court reestablish sua sponte the constitutional order in Santa Cruz Barillas that was violated by the State of Siege.

7. We call for unity and the permanent defense of our territories, because history has demonstrated that what happens today in Barillas, will happen tomorrow across the nation.

Hero and martyr in our peoples' struggle in defense of Mother Earth.

Chnab’jul, Huehuetenango, May 9, 2012

Wednesday, May 2, 2012



To the national and international public, regarding the recent events in the municipality of Santa Cruz Barillas Huehuetenango, WE DECLARE:

Yesterday, at around one o'clock in the afternoon, armed men ambushed three community leaders as they returned from the municipal center to their nearby community of Posa Verde, where the Hidro Santa Cruz company plans to build a hydroelectric dam.  In the attack, Andrés Francisco Miguel was killed, and Pablo Antonio Pablo and Esteban Bernabé were seriously injured.  One of the men had refused to sell his land and had suffered legal persecution by the company.

According to the people injured in the incident, their aggressors were traveling in vehicles similar to those used by the Hidro Santa Cruz company.  The local population assumed that people linked to the company were involved in the incident, due to the use of the vehicles, as well as other recent events.  Two weeks ago, community members filed a legal complaint with the authorities after discovering homemade explosives in company facilities.  Others have reported acts of intimidation, including legal persecution, the co-opting of leaders, and threatening phone messages, carried out to protect company interests.

It should be noted that the social conflicts in Barillas are directly related to the project authorization and operations of Hidro Santa Cruz, S.A.  The company has been favored by multiple governments, but has failed to respect the affected population's right to free, prior and informed consultation.

Reacting to this situation, indignant community members acted with anger to demand justice and provoked riots.  As a result, the government is evaluating the declaration of a state [of siege], thereby limiting constitutional rights.

THE WESTERN PEOPLES' COUNCIL, along with human rights and environmental organizations, emphatically state our rejection of the vandalism committed in Santa Cruz Barillas.  At the same time, however, we believe that these acts are the result of the imposition of the Hidro Santa Cruz project, which is endorsed by the government, but does not have the consent of the affected population.

In order to quickly resolve this conflict, WE DEMAND:

A)      The immediate revision of the respective file and the suspension of the construction and operation licenses for the Cambalam hydroelectric dam.

B)      The withdrawal of the company from the area and an investigation into [potential] company responsibility for the incident.

C)     The formation of a high-level commission, with the participation of civil society organizations, to support the investigation and the assignment of responsibility for the events that took place on May 1 of this year in Barillas.

D)     Government-provided protection and security for the population of Barillas, according to the concept of democratic security laid out in the Peace Accords, rather than the suspension of constitutional rights.

Huehuetenango, May 2, 2012



Ante la opinión pública nacional e internacional, ante los últimos acontecimientos sucedidos en el municipio de Santa Cruz Barillas Huehuetenango MANIFESTAMOS:

El día de ayer a eso de la una de la tarde;  hombres armados emboscaron a tres personas, líderes comunitarios;  que retornaban de la cabecera municipal hacia su comunidad cercana a Posa Verde,  lugar donde la empresa hidrosanta cruz pretende construir una hidroeléctrica; como resultado de ese atentado el señor Andrés Francisco Miguel resultado fallecido y  gravemente heridos Pablo Antonio Pablo y Esteban Bernabé; uno de ellos se ha negado a vender sus tierras y ha sufrido persecución legal por parte de empresa.

Las personas heridas en este hecho, relataron que sus agresores se conducían en vehículos similares a los de la empresa Hidro Santa Cruz, por lo que población asumio que este acto fue promovido por personas vinculadas a dicha empresa, lo cual tiene relación con la denuncia que se hizo hace dos semanas cuando los comunitarios descubrieron y  denunciaron a las autoridades correspondientes;  la existencia de explosivos caseros en las instalaciones de la empresa; a ello se suma las acciones de intimidación que la empresa ha impulsado para hacer valer sus intereses como la persecución legal, coptación de líderes,  mensajes telefónicos con amenazas.

Es de hacer notar que los conflictos sociales en Barillas están directamente relacionados con la autorización y operaciones de Hidro Santa Cruz, S.A. que ha sido favorecida por los gobiernos de turno, sin dar cumplimiento al Derecho a la consulta previa, libre e informada los habitantes afectados.

Ante esta situación pobladores indignados reaccionaron de forma enardecida exigiendo justicia y provocando disturbios;  y como consecuencia  el gobierno evalúa declarar Estado una de las formas de limitación de los derechos constitucionales.

EL CONSEJO DE PUEBLOS DE OCCIDENTE y organizaciones de derechos humanos y ecologistas, queremos aclarar enfáticamente nuestro rechazo a la comisión de los actos vandálicos sucedidos en Santa Cruz Barillas; pero también consideramos que son consecuencia y resultado de la imposición de un proyecto por parte de la empresa Hidrosanta Cruz y el aval del gobierno, sin el consentimiento de la población.

Para encontrar una rápida solución a este conflicto, Exigimos:

A)      La inmediata revisión administrativa del expediente respectivo y suspensión de la licencia de construcción y operación de la Hidroelectrica Cambalam.

B)      El retiro de esta empresa en la zona; que se investigue su responsabilidad en este hecho.

C)     Que se conforme una comisión de alto nivel con participación de organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil, para apoyar la investigación y deducción de responsabilidades sobre lo ocurrido el día uno de mayo de este año en Barillas.

D)     Que el Gobierno de Guatemala, brinde protección y seguridad a la población de Barillas y no la suspensión de sus derechos constitucionales, sobre la base de la seguridad democrática en el marco de los Acuerdos de Paz.

Huehuetenango, 02 de mayo de 2012.