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Arrest of the 'Huehuetenango Seven' 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 an Hydroelectric Dam.

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

Restrict the domestic agricultural use of water.

Affect the community´s cultural practices.

Alter a fragile ecosystem.

IN two prior consultations, the community rejected the project. Against the community´s decision the government approved the construction of the dam. A GROUP OF EHRD STARTED SUPPORTING AND REPRESENTING THE CLAIMS OF THE q´anjob´al community.

CRIMINALIZATION OF THE EHRD 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 accused defenders of being part of a criminal network in Huehuetenango.

However, the claims were unsubstantiated

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 guilty Bernardo Ermitaño López for "obstructing legal action" and Rigoberto Juárez guilty for "coersion". 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 upholding the interests of private companies or individuals.

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).