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The struggle against Spanish company Hidralia SA in Santa Cruz Barillas, Guatemala, where there are plans to build a hydroelectric dam, should be an example for the other communities facing megaprojects, said Isabela Gaspar Francisco to Real World Radio.
The testimony of the member of the “Recreo B” community was taken last Thursday 10 when the seven prisoners released were arriving to their municipality, where 4 thousand people welcomed them with open arms with an event where commitment and solidarity with the struggle against the installation of said dam were present.
During the almost nine months of their imprisonment after their arrest under a “state of emergency” declared by Otto Perez Molina’s administration on May 1st, 2012, the families, especially the wives and partners of the prisoners, suffered in addition to the distance of their loved ones and the lack of income, harassments by representatives of the construction company who offered them money and the release of the prisoners in exchange of denying the damages this work would cause.
The women of Santa Cruz Barillas were an emotional and material pillar in the resistance process of the nine people arrested in an unfair and arbitrary way.
In November, an international delegation visited the people imprisoned in Guatemala City, after which the environmentalist federation Friends of the Earth International and other organizations carried out several actions both before the Guatemalan government and the company’s authorities in Spain, demanding the release of the prisoners.
The relatives of the prisoners, in order to visit them in prison, had to spend large amounts of money in transportation, food and other expenses, which was impossible to afford with their peasant economies. That deepened the distance and the pain.
Isabela was interviewed in Santa Cruz Barillas by Anny Matzir Miculax, a Mayan indigenous journalist member of CEIBA - Friends of the Earth Guatemala. She said that before the company arrived, the municipality "was a beautiful, quiet place" and didn’t have the problems it faces now. And she demanded Guatemalan president to immediately withdraw the company that caused so much pain, death and suffering to the communities. “We feel alone, the authorities are in Poza Verde looking after the company, not us. We don’t want any more blood or pain here”.
In addition, she said that they expect that the struggle carried out by the community members against the dam "serves as an example to other municipalities of Guatemala who face similar situations".
Thinking about the future generations of the municipality, Isabela said that the struggle against the dam will continue and said that on November 25 a worker of the company attacked her with knives aiming to punish those who support the struggle against the construction company.
Despite this, Isabela said that the absence of her brothers for almost a year, far from weakening, has strengthened the community spirit in defense of its heritage.
“Barillas is more united than ever”, said the Guatemalan activist.
Photo (CUC, Guatemala): The women of Santa Cruz Barillas played a fundamental role in the resistance that lasted almost nine months.
La académica Katherine Reilly, profesora asistente en la Escuela de Comunicaciones de la Simon Fraser University de Canadá, y la maestrando Belén Febres Cordero de la misma casa de estudios, acaban de publicar el trabajo “Radio Mundo Real (2003-2013): el rol de la comunicación en resistencia en la cambiante coyuntura geopolítica de América Latina” (adjunto a esta nota).
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