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Guatemala: We Are All Barillas- Stop a Dam on Our Sacred River!

On May 1, 2012, a community leader in Guatemala was killed by security guards of a Spanish hydroelectric company. Riots broke out. In response, President Molina declared martial law and army tanks descended into Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango. Heavily armed military lined the streets of the Q’anjob’al Maya town, seeking and detaining community leaders who were outspoken against the dam.

Rigoberto Juarez Mateo, a long-time Indigenous community activist from Santa Eulalia, Guatemala was arbitrarily arrested on March 24, 2015 in Guatemala City, while he was denouncing human rights violations against himself and his community. Rigoberto Juarez is a representative of the Pluri-national Government of the Q’anjob’al, Chuj, Akateka, Popti and Mestizo peoples, of Huehuetenango.

Traditional Mayan authorities from Huehuetenango, Guatemala traveled to Spain in early July on a tour to raise awareness about the systematic human rights abuses experienced by their peoples at the hands of Spanish companies including Hydro Santa Cruz, a hydroelectric company operating in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala. The Plurinational Government of the Q’anjob’al, Chuj, Akateka, and Popti’ and Mestizo peoples of Huehuetenango, including a representative of the community of Santa Cruz Barillas, and Santa Eulalia, visited Madrid and Barcelona on their tour.

Over the last two weeks of May, residents of Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala have been surprised on three separate occasions by military presence in their communities. The area has been under high surveillance ever since a state of martial law was declared in the month of May 2012 and community members active against a hydro-electric dam were named “terrorists and drug traffickers” by the Perez Molina administration.

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