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Natalia Atz, coordinator of CEIBA-Friends of the Earth Guatemala, has been on a European tour for several days in order to expose the role of European corporations in human rights violations in Guatemala.
Natalia visited the European Union External Action Service in Brussels, where she exposed the criminalization against social movements, local communities and human rights defenders who resist the extractive model. She also claimed that sometimes the criminalization is followed by direct violence.
The tour also included a visit to Spain, a country that hosts some of the companies operating in Guatemala, such as Hidralia SA, which is accused of causing social turmoil in Santa Cruz Barillas as a result of the installation of a hydroelectric dam rejected by the organized communities.
Natalia spoke with Real World Radio shortly after the news of the death of Daniel Pedro was made public. Pedro was a leader of Santa Eulalia, in Huehuetenango department, who was fund dead after having been missing for ten days.
Atz said they aim to expose the corporations and their role in the violence against the communities, which has been encouraged by an Association Agreement signed between Central America and the European Union. She also said there are Canadian companies involved.
Forty Members of the European Parliament of five different political groups had exposed this situation in June of 2011, before Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security. Today, two years later, the European Union has not made any public statement about this.
A Historic Trial
Natalia Atz mentioned that CEIBA’s headquarters in Huehuetenango were raided last year in search for information about resistance to mining and other megaprojects. She said there are arbitrary detentions and arrest warrants are issued against the spokespeople of the resistance. Such is the case of Ruben Herrera, who was unfairly arrested and whose release they demand.
Also, the trial against former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt, continues this week. He is accused of committing crimes against humanity in the 80s. According to CEIBA, this is another factor that causes more repression in the form of intimidation of the social protest to avoid truth and justice.
The link between state terrorism and extractive projects in Guatemala has become evident as a result of the existence of paramilitary and parapolice forces acting to protect the corporations.
“They are not respecting the communities’ right to exist”, Natalia told Real World Radio. Natalia will soon participate at the Assembly of Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean to be held in Colombia, where they will draw a current map of environmental conflicts in Latin America and the different groups and social movements will share their experiences of resistance, mobilization and transformation to look for alternatives to capitalism.
Photo: Víctor Barro, 2012 (FoE Spain)
“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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