Huehuetenango, Guatemala: Struggle against the hydroelectric power plant in Santa Cruz Barillas and against the terrorism of Power (May 2012)

As our ‘disobedient’ comrades (desobedientes) report, the military government of Otto Pérez Molina imposed a state of siege in the city of Santa Cruz Barillas, northwestern department of Huehuetenango in Guatemala. The objective of this repressive measure was to crush the popular resistance against the advance of CAMBALAM project and construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the area. This destructive project is being carried out by the Econer-Hidralia, a firm of Spanish interests, which is building the Hidro Santa Cruz dam.

The exploitation of the river that circles the urban area will result in the destruction of the three existing waterfalls, which have great cultural and social significance for the inhabitants of the areas around them. Through a number of legal and illegal actions and threats the multinational took over properties on the banks of the river and promptly fenced off the area, blocking access to the waterfalls. These actions have been enforced by armed mercenaries backed up by judicial persecutions of those who resisted this unjust expropriation of land for commercial purposes.

At least 12 people were arrested after the last operation in early May 2012 while the whole area was occupied by the army and the police who flattened neighbours’ homes, asking people to get off buses and arresting those whose documents matched up with the lists drawn up by the company’s spies and snitches to identify leaders of the popular resistance.

Apart from the arrests and militarization, the construction work of the dam is carried out through ambushes and deadly traps by the private security agency employed by the hydroelectric power company. On the 1st of May Andrés Francisco Miguel, an activist against the dam, was shot dead by hitmen hired by Hidro Santa Cruz as he went from the city centre to the Santa Rosa community. Pablo Antonio Pablo and Esteban Bernabé, who were accompanying Andrés, were also injured in the ambush. This attack came after Pablo Antonio Pablo opted not to sell his land to the multinational and along with others has been constantly threatened since 2010.

Some days earlier a dog that was walking beside the fenced area on the riverbank accidentally tripped a homemade bomb that had been placed there to kill whoever would get close to the fence. Residents believe the bomb was planted there after the local population threw out private security guards of the firm and destroyed part of the fence in November 2011.

This summary is based on information released by the Departmental Assembly for the Defense of the Territory in Huehuetenango that can be read in its entirety in Spanish here.

Solidarity with the struggle in Santa Cruz Barillas!
Set fire to the machinery of the State and Capital!

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