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23 Feb 2017

Jeff Abbott, Upside Down World

Guatemala: Hydroelectric Dam Conflicts Bring Back Past Horrors for Indigenous Communities

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In February 2017, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court...ordered immediate suspension of the Oxec and Oxec II dams along the river pending the fulfillment of the consultation of residents of the municipality of Santa María Cahabón, the region expected to be impacted by the dam. 

The court's decision upholds an earlier decision in 2016 where the Guatemalan Supreme Court...ordered a consultation of the 29,000 residents along the river. The consultation was originally slated for July 31, 2016, but the company filed an appeal just days before the consultation was to be held, delaying it until an unknown date. Meanwhile, the dam projects moved forward...The communities are now waiting for the state sanctioned-consultation to be held to decide the fate of the hydro project.

Between 1980-1982, the military massacred residents of 14 communities along the Cahabón River...The massacre occurred near to where today the Oxec II project is being constructed...In the minds of residents there is a link between the massacres and the construction of the mega-dam. "They were clearing the way for the dam," said [Bernardo Caal, a leader in the movement to protect the Cahabón river].