Guatemala: NGO report highlights the negative impacts of hydroelectric and palm oil projects in Alta Verapaz

Author: PBI Guatemala, Published on: 25 May 2020

"We Defend Life! Social struggles in Alta Verapaz", May 2020

...Alta Verapaz (AV) is a department characterized by difficult realities and deep contradictions: it has the highest number of conflicts over agrarian issues and a record number of evictions; it has the highest rates of poverty and, at the same time, it has a great wealth of natural goods. Furthermore, in 2018 it was one of the departments with the highest number of attacks and murders of human rights defenders...

The indigenous peoples and campesinos of AV have been subjected to continuous dispossession dating back to the Spanish conquest, when the looting of natural wealth in the region began through the exploitation of raw materials. Following independence from Spain and the subsequent liberal reform, coffee production was promoted in this territory and, at the same time, legislation was created that forced this population to work in slave-like conditions, as mozos colonos (a colonial figure akin to serfs), to supply the labor needs of the coffee farms...

The causes of the conflict remain, and, indeed, have even been exacerbated through the privatization of public services and the implementation of megaprojects of various kinds, financed by both national and international capital. An economic model based on extractivism was pushed forward without informing nor consulting with the Guatemalan population. Dozens of these large projects (mining, hydroelectric, mono-cultures, etc.) have entered with greater force and in greater numbers since the beginning of the 21st century, all seeking to benefit from Guatemala’s diverse sources of natural wealth...

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Related companies: Green Earth Power Industria Chiquibul SA Oxec (part of Energy Resources Capital)