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11 Feb 2016

Julian Burger, Monica Feria-Tinta and Claire McGregor

Indigenous peoples’ rights and hydro-electric projects in Guatemala: The case of the Ch’orti’ in Chiquimula

…The indigenous Maya Ch’orti’ community in Chiquimula, Guatemala, is in conflict with the companies Las Tres Niñas and Jonbo which plan to build hydro-electric dams on the Jupilingue river (also known as Río Grande). The Ch’orti’ claim that these projects will affect their livelihoods and threaten their way of life. The stalemate has lasted 7 years and escalated into conflict with the local authorities and members of the community being criminalized… the delegation found that in the Ch’orti’ case the right to consultation was not observed…One of the facts such environmental and social impact assessment should address is the cumulative impact of existing and proposed projects…While not necessarily representative of all business in Guatemala, the hydro-electric companies showed no awareness of their obligations to respect in human rights or of the scope of indigenous rights…The report calls upon the company to re-engage with the communities, address their concerns through open dialogue, and respect the outcomes of the consultations…