“Fear has made me braver and that’s why I want to keep fighting”

ACOGUATE has published a piece about the struggle of the people of Ixquisis Microregion against the imposition of large megaprojects, through the words of María Hernández, a human rights defender.

For the past three years, María Hernández has represented women in the Peaceful Resistance of the Ixquisis Microregion, being appointed as representative by her community, Yulchen Frontera, which is part of the microregion.

The Microregion of Ixquisis, belonging to the municipality of San Mateo Ixtatán, North of Huehuetenango, is a geographically isolated area, located right on the border with Mexico. The Resistance is made up of Maya Chuj, Maya Q’anjob’al, and Mestizo communities, who are fighting for their rights in the face of the construction of three hydroelectric dams in their territory, Pojom I, Pojom II and San Andrés.

The government, through the Ministry of Energy and Mines, granted licenses for two of these projects, Pojom II and San Andrés, without consulting the communities of San Mateo Ixtatán and despite their widespread opposition. According to the good faith (de buena fe) community consultation carried out in 2009, 99% of the population of the municipality voted against the granting of licenses for the exploitation of natural resources in their territory because of the serious environmental, social and health impacts. For the time being, the construction of mega-projects is not going ahead.

ACOGUATE spoke with señora Hernández about the current situation in Ixquisis, and what it means to be a woman human rights defender in Guatemala.

About their struggle, señora Hernández shared:

“We are in a struggle because we have certain threats from certain projects, specifically hydroelectric projects. It has been a great threat to the rural communities where we live. Because, in fact, we know that the whole process has been illegal, and everything they have done. They are not development projects as they have said. They say they are going to do development projects, like schools, sports fields, health centres and all that, but in the end we realised that it has nothing to do with ‘development’, as such, but it is for the big businessmen. On the contrary, they are destroying the natural resources, and they are destroying the land. So, in the last two years, we have seen how this situation is affecting us. The land is deteriorating because of so much pollution, so many things that people, and companies, have been imposing,” says María.

The full article, and interview, with references, is available, in Spanish, here, “El miedo me ha vuelto más valiente y por eso quiero seguir luchando”.

Errors in translation are mine.

Categories: Accompaniment, Criminalisation, Environment, Evictions, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Legal, Military, Poverty, Resource Extraction, Violence

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