Santa Cruz Barrillas dam and Hidralia, Guatemala

Santa Cruz Barillas dam and Hidralia bringing violence, repression and impunity into local communities; the case was brought to the Permanent Peoples Tribunal hearing in Geneva. Communities finally won: in Dec 2016 Hidralia cancelled the project!


Description

(Español, abajo) Summary of the conflict. The conflict is related to the project of a small hydroelectric plant in Santa Cruz Barrillas, Guatemala, part of the bigger project Cambalam 1. The transnational corporation (TNC) at the center of the conflict is the Spanish Hidralia S.A., a TNC specialized in water-cycle management processes which include hydroelectric energy, dams, infrastructure, civil engineering, water supply and sanitation. The conflict relates to the activities of Hidro Santa Cruz, which is owned by Hidralia's subsidiary Ecoener-Hidralia Energía, which itself is dedicated to project development, engineering and consulting. The contentious activities were carried out between June 2007 and January 2013, in Santa Cruz Barrillas, Huehuetenango, Guatemala. They include in particular the complicity with the Spanish and Guatemalan governments for their role in the invisibilization, criminalization and persecution of the Q'anjob'al people who were legitimately resisting the hydroelectric project. All parties are also complicit in the violent response to this resistance which took the form of, inter alia, intimidation, murder, illegal and arbitrary detentions, land spoiling and dispossession, all in violation of applicable human and peoples' rights established in international and national law, and in particular in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, the International Labour Standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples, the American Convention on Human Rights, and in the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala.

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Basic Data
NameSanta Cruz Barrillas dam and Hidralia, Guatemala
CountryGuatemala
ProvinceHuehuetenango
SiteSanta Cruz Barrillas
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Water access rights and entitlements
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Water
Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsEnglish (Español, abajo)

The proposed hydroelectric plant would be able to produce 4.9 MWs in each of its two phases. It would be installed in an area traditionally used as a recreational and ceremonial center and limit the domestic and agricultural use of water in an already fragile environment, home to several amphibian and insect species found nowhere else. The affected communities were never consulted about the project, despite over 45,000 inhabitants (one third of the total population) expressing their rejection to industrial activities in the area on a popular consultation.

The initial investment for the project is estimated in 30 million dollars, a third of which is proportioned by CIFI, a corporation in which the World Bank and the BID, among others, are shareholders.

Español

El proyecto hidroeléctrico propuesto llegaría a producir 4.9 MWs en cada una de sus dos fases. Se instalaría en un área tradicionalmente utilizado como centro de recreación y ceremonias y limitaría el uso doméstico y agrario del agua en un entorno ya de por sí frágil, hogar de varias especies endémicas de anfibios e insectos. Las comunidades afectadas nunca fueron consultadas acerca del proyecto, a pesar del resultado de una consulta popular en la que 45,000 habitantes (un tercio de toda la población) se opusieron a actividades industriales en la zona.

La inversión inicial para el proyecto se estima en 30 millones de dólares, un tercio de la cual fue proporcionada por CIFI, una corporación de la cual el Banco Mundial y el BID son accionistas.
Level of Investment (in USD)30,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population130,000
Start Date2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesHidralia Energia from Spain
Hidro Santa Cruz from Guatemala
Ecoener-Hidralia from Spain
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Guatemala, Ministry of Energy and Mines (Guatemala), Relatoría de Derechos de los Pueblos indígenas, Relatoría de Defensores y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos, Procuraduría de Derecho Humanos, Consejos Comunitarios de Desarrollo (COCODE), Congreso de la República (Guatemala)

Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Spain), Defensor del Pueblo
International and Financial InstitutionsInter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH)
Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de la Infraestructura (CIFI)
Bankia from Spain - As investor of CIFI
Banco Centroamericano de Integración Económica (BCIE) - As investor of CIFI
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America - As investor of CIFI
Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) - As investor of CIFI
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCEIBA – Amigos de la Tierra Guatemala, Amigos de la Tierra Internacional (FoEI), la sociedad civil de Barillas y el Gobierno Plurinacional de las Naciones Maya: Q’anjob’al, Chuj, Akateka Popti, con apoyo de Amigos de la Tierra España y ATALC – Amigos de la Tierra America Latina y Caribe, Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Permanent Peoples Tribunal
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Comunidad Q’anjobal, chuj, akatexo y popti'
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Referendum other local consultations
Sabotage
Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Presentation of the case to the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Deaths
Potential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Other socio-economic impacts
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Criminalization of activists
Repression
Deaths
Strengthening of participation
Institutional changes
Violent targeting of activists
Migration/displacement
Assassination of Andrés Francisco Miguel in 2012; Daniel Pedro Mateo in 2013. Pascual Pablo Francisco was killed on 24 March 2015
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The construction of the plant has not yet started and is paralyzed due to the actions of local organizations. There is an office of the company installed in the area.

La construcción de la planta no ha comenzado aún y se encuentra paralizada debido a las acciones de organizaciones locales. Existe una oficina de la compañía en el área del proyecto.

UPDATE Dec 2016: La compañía hidroeléctrica Hidro Santa Cruz ha anunciado que no continuará en Guatemala, después de ocho años de resistencia indígena. En El Diario, la ONG Amigos de la Tierra y Mujeres de Guatemala explica que "aún queda mucho por hacer. El conflicto que ha supuesto la presencia de Ecoener-Hidralia en la zona trajo, según la ONG, "altas cotas de vulneración de derechos humanos" entre los que denuncian "asesinatos, secuestros, amenazas, agresiones a mujeres, encarcelamiento de líderes comunitarios y un grave deterioro del tejido social".

Por esta razón, uno de los retos más importantes en el escenario que deja la retirada de la compañía es, en opinión de Moreno, la reconstrucción de las relaciones en el tejido comunitario, dañadas por la división que crea un proyecto de estas características. "Se trata de una comunidad con una fragilidad enorme con raíces en el conflicto de los años 80. La irrupción, con malas formas, de la empresa abrió viejas heridas", explica.[3]
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN
[click to view]

International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights
[click to view]

International Labour Standards of the International Labour Organisation (ILO)
[click to view]

ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples
[click to view]

American Convention on Human Rights
[click to view]

Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala
[click to view]

References

[1] Gloabl Witness 2015 report, On Dangerous Grounds
[click to view]

Links

Global Campaign to Stop Corporate Impunity
[click to view]

CEIBA (FoE Guatemala)
[click to view]

Guatemala Human Rights Commission
[click to view]

"We are all Barillas"
[click to view]

Friends of the Earth
[click to view]

Testimony of the case in the Permanent Peoples Tribunal Hearing - Corporate Human Rights Violations and Peoples Access to Justice. Geneva, 23 June 2014
[click to view]

[3] El Diario 26/12/2016 - La empresa española Ecoener-Hidralia anuncia su retirada de Guatemala tras años de lucha indígena
[click to view]

[2] Telesur tv, Published 27 December 2016- Protest Pays Off As World Bank-Funded Guatemalan Project Killed
[click to view]

Media Links

Radio Mundo Real
[click to view]

Other Documents

Que todos se levantes Source: http://www.agenciasubversiones.org/?p=3791
[click to view]

Nuestras luchas son pacificas Source: Centro de Medios Independientes-Guatemala, http://www.agenciasubversiones.org/?p=3791
[click to view]

Other CommentsSee more at: http://www.ceibaguate.org/
Meta Information
ContributorGlobal Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power, Transnational Institute - TNI, Friends of the Earth International, Amigos de la Tierra Guatemala - CEIBA y Amigos de la Tierra España y con la colaboración de Andrés Cabanas
Last update28/02/2017
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