Guatemalan activist murdered after court suspends palm oil company operations

A palm oil company remains at the heart of conflict in northern Guatemala, months after a mass fish die-off. A day after company operations were suspended pending further investigation into the incident, three community leaders were abducted and threatened by company workers and an outspoken local teacher was murdered by unidentified assailants in broad daylight.

Sandra Cuffe writes in the Mongabay website about the ecocide on the La Pasión river and the murder of Rigoberto Lima Choc, a primary school teacher. She provides some comprehensive background and analysis of the events currently affecting the residents of Sayaxché.

In brief then:
Reforestadora de Palmas del Petén, S.A. (REPSA) is allegedly responsible for a massive fish kill along a 100-mile stretch of the La Pasión River in June. Massive overflows of organic matter from the company’s palm-oil mill effluent ponds are suspected of causing the asphyxiation of fish and other aquatic life. A government agency referred to the incident as “ecocide.”

Residents of the municipality of Sayaxché, who depend on the river for fish and water, have been greatly affected by the incident. Three residents involved in groups seeking justice for the fish kill were allegedly abducted by REPSA workers on September 18. A local teacher who denounced REPSA was murdered the same day.

The situation in Sayaxché remains tense amid ongoing investigations into the murder and REPSA’s role in the fish kill.

You can read the full article here on the Mongabay website.

Categories: Environment, Justice, Violence

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