That’s right; the Spanish didn’t quite get them all wiped out the first time. A Spanish hydro-electric company, with the aid of the Guatemalan government, are currently having another go at it. Rubén Herrera, is one of the many Mayan community leaders, that are being drug from their homes and hauled off to prison by police; all for opposing the theft of their native lands in Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango Guatemala, by a hydro-electric company. Rubén was taken by the police on March 15th, 2013 and imprisoned in Guatemala City for speaking out against the construction of a dam by the Guatemalan company – Hidro Santa Cruz; subsidiary of a Spanish-owned company – Hidralia Energy. He was charged with kidnapping, terrorism, coercion, arson; among many, many other lies.
The dam company – Hidro Santa Cruz, in collusion with the Guatemalan government, have either threatened or brought criminal charges, most of them absurd, against Rubén and dozens of other community leaders for opposing the dam. The project was authorized despite the municipality’s decision not to allow the exploitation of natural resources by foreign companies. To circumvent any right of the Mayan people to object, Guatemala declared martial law in the region, which suspended their constitutional rights, including the right of assembly. The state issued 29 arrest warrants for community leaders and detained 17, sending 12 of them to a high-security prison in Guatemala City without trial. Other people trying to protect their homes have been killed outright by police.
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization, which was ratified in Guatemala; clearly states Guatemala must provide effective mechanisms to consult with the Indigenous Peoples before approving a license for any project that may affect their ancestral lands, and cultural, or spiritual property. Well so what! It isn’t being honored.
This dam construction amounts to a land-grab by greedy politicians and a big-bucks hydro company, who are stealing these people’s lands and doing whatever they want to them. If you attend one of our letter writing nights, please ask to sign our letter demanding Guatemala stop the persecution of the Mayan people. If you think people are already out to get you – use rubber gloves and a fake name. Political pressure matters. It’s when people don’t care enough to notice or to spotlight atrocities, that things escalate way out of hand. Look at this horrific example:
On Friday May 10, 2013, General Rios Montt, was found guilty of masterminding and overseeing the massacre of 1,771 Ixil Mayans in the department of El Quiche, as well as 1,485 acts of sexual violence and acts of torture, and the forced displacement of 29,000 people . He was sentenced to 80 years in prison and was ordered into police custody.
These acts were carried out as state policy and destroyed 5.5% of the Ixil population.
This conviction is a baby step towards justice—but only in one instance among hundreds. The full role of the U.S. in abetting death squads carrying out genocides in Guatemala, continues to cry out for investigation and exposure. Good ol’ Ronnie Reagan consistently endorsed and armed the Ríos Montt regime; and in a sort of hateful-fucker relay, subsequent administrations have just grabbed onto that baton and carried it right on down the track from there.
Judge Barrios declared General Efraín Ríos Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. “Justice is a right for the victims; these acts should never happen again,” she said. During her hour statement, Judge Barrios recounted evidence of the indiscriminate massacres committed against the civilian Ixil population, systematic physical, sexual and psychological control meant to destroy the social fabric of the Ixil culture.