Recently 100 people, members of different Communities of Nueva Concepción, Escuintla, organized to release four dams on the Madre Vieja River, that had prevented water from reaching the middle and lower basins of the river, and had been strangling mangrove systems below.
Using picks and shovels the group opened the dams which had been built unilaterally and irresponsibly by palm and sugarcane companies. For two months the community members had attempted to initiate dialogue with the representatives of Hamme Group producers of palm oil. After several meetings and unfulfilled agreements by the company, the communities decided to take direct action to solve the problem that had been affecting thousands of people. But within a few days after their action, and before the water could even reach the lower boundraries, the palm and sugarcane companies had reconstructed the dams. once again blocking the opportunity for people and mangroves to receive the river's life-giving water.
We hearby make formal complaint with the Ministry of Environment, the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Environment, the National Council of Protected Areas, and the Office of the Human Rights situation. We are asking them to carry out urgent monitoring of these places where the dams are located and to take steps necessary to ensure access to water for the thousands of families affected by these actions.
We demand that the National Council of Protected Areas - CONAP initiate legal proceedings against appropriate parties, both directly and indirectly involved with these dams. We ask them to protect by law the agricultural ecosystems, mangrove environments and its inhabitants.
We also call on local authorities to provide support to the communities and to the OHCHR and others, before these water rights conflicts results in violent acts being taken against us.
Guatemala, Central America