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19 de febrero | | | | |

Guatemala: Santa Cruz Barillas hearings postponed, while the government authorizes new dam projects

Judicial noncompliance, planned “mistakes”, and pressure over families and people involved add up to the two year ordeal of eight indigenous political prisoners from Santa Cruz Barillas.

A hearing was scheduled for February 17 about the legal situation of the Santa Cruz Barillas political prisoners, who were arrested on May 2, 2012 after the events that took place the day before in the context of the resistance of eight Huehuetenango municipalities to the building of dams by Hidro Santa Cruz, of Spanish Hidralia S.A.
In said hearing, Judge Carol Patricia Flores was due to decide on the legal situation of the community leaders of the Q´anjob´al people.

However, the hearing was once again postponed due to a “summoning mistake” by the Huehuetenango prison system, where two of the eight leaders involved in this case are still imprisoned: Antonio Rogelio Velásquez and Saúl Aurelio Méndez. The Judge implied that said mistakes were not coincidental, since the person in charge of the prison of the departmental capital city “didn´t comply with court orders in many occasions”.

Therefore, the hearing had to be postponed for the second consecutive time since the beginning of the year and was rescheduled for March 10, while in Guatemala and Spain there is an active campaign for their definitive release, since the building of the dams wasn´t approved by the municipalities, who expressed their opposition in several community consultations.

According to the Mayan Waquib’Kej National Coordination, these postponements generate uncertainty and directly affect Q´anjob´al communities and the families of the eight leaders.

Meanwhile, according to the Mayan network, Otto Perez Molina´s administration, through the Energy and Mines Ministry, continues to grant authorizations for the implementation of hydroelectric projects associated with mining-oil extractive projects. This deepens the situations like the one that generated a deep crisis in Santa Cruz Barillas. The Guatemalan government authorized ENEL-Guatemala SA to exploit the Quisil River with the “La Cascata” hydroelectric project located in San Pedro Soloma, Huehuetenango, also in Q´anjob´al territory.

Imagen: http://convergenciawaqibkej.wordpress.com/

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