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1 Dec 2016

Jeff Abbott, Waging NonViolence (US)

Guatemala: Indigenous communities protest against hydroelectric projects constructed by Grupo Cobra over lack of consultation, negative environmental impacts & conflict

“Guatemala’s indigenous water protectors organize to challenge hydroelectric projects”, 30 Nov 2016

…Thousands of indigenous Q’eqchi, Achí and Pomcomchí Mayas took part in a series of protests on October 17 against hydroelectric projects along the Cahabón River in the Guatemalan department of Alta Verapaz. The simultaneous protests, which took place in Guatemala City and the municipality of San Pedro Carcha, aimed to force the government’s hand over a delayed consultation on the project in Santa María Cahabón…There are 15 projects along the Cahabón River. Yet these plans have brought the companies and state government into conflict with the indigenous populations of the department. The Guatemala-based company Oxec S.A. owns the hydroelectric dams Oxec and Oxec II…and is being built by the Spanish company Grupo Cobra, which is owned by Florentino Pérez, the president of Spanish soccer giant Real Madrid. The project has already generated negative environmental impacts. The photos that have made it out of the construction site show a scarred earth… The expansion of energy generation is promoted as a means of ending energy poverty across Guatemala. But these projects do little to relieve the excessively high cost of energy, and further contribute to the emergence of new social conflicts…Furthermore, companies have denied the existence of indigenous communities as a means of denying the communities of their constitutional right of prior consultation…

[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre recently invited Grupo Cobra to respond to similar allegations; the company did not respond. The non response is availble only in Spanish here]