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Arrest of the 'Huehuetenango Seven' - Guatemala The situation in the Q'am B'alam river in Huehuetenango, Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala

In 2009 Hidralia Energía, through its branch Hidro Santa Cruz, plans on constructing another Hydroelectric Dam.

The Q´ANJOB´AL indigenous community opposes the construction of the dam arguing that it will:

Restrict the traditional agricultural use of water.

Affect the communities cultural practices.

Disrupt its fragile ecosystem.

IN two prior consultations, the community rejected the project while the government approved the construction of the dam. As a result a GROUP OF Environmental defenders began SUPPORTING AND REPRESENTING THE CLAIMS OF THE q´anjob´al community.

CRIMINALIZATION OF EHRDs SUPPORTING THE Q´ANJOB´AL COMMUNITY

DETAINEES

Mynor Manuel López: detained for almost three years

Francisco Juan Pedro, Adalberto Villatoro, Arturo Pablo Juan, Domingo Baltazar, Bernardo Ermitaño López and Rigoberto Juárez: in prison for more than one year.

COMPLAINERS

Employees of Hydro Santa Cruz and State officials.

CAUSE FOR DETENTION

The Prosecutor´s Office largely based its investigation on a document issued by Hydro Santa Cruz, in which it leveled unsubstantiated claims that the environmental defenders were "part of a criminal network" in Huehuetenango.

Freedom for the huehuetenango seven

In July 2016, the authorities ordered the immediate release of the 'Huehuetenango Seven'

In an unanimous decision, the judges absolved Francisco Juan Pedro, Adalberto Villatoro, Arturo Pablo Juan, Domingo Baltazar, and Mynor López of all charges.

However, in a majority decision, the judges declared Bernardo Ermitaño López guilty of "obstructing legal action" and Rigoberto Juárez of "coercion". The judges ordered their release due to time already served.

Presiding judge Yassmín Barrios publicly stated her disagreement with said decision, recalling the responsibility of judges to uphold truth and justice, as opposed to the interests of private companies.

After eight years of struggle, communities in Huehuetenango, Guatemala, are celebrating a decision by the Spanish Company Ecoener-Hidralia to start shutting down its Hidro Santa Cruz damming operations on the Q´AM´B´ALAM river - (Freedomhouse, 2017)

Credits:

1. Waterlat Gobacit; Poza verde, Barillas, Huehuetenango, Guatemala; May 27, 2017; (CC BY-NC 2.0). 2. Wikipedia 3. USAID Guatemala; Villager in Huehuetenango.A.Garcia.USAID.2014; February 7, 2014; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). 4. Andres Chicol; Laguna Ordoñez, Huehuetenango; December 4, 2011; (CC BY-SA 2.0). 5. Josué Goge; Nacimiento río San Juan; January 26, 2012; (CC BY 2.0). 6. Alberto Castillo; Windows; January 3, 2014; (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).