Article by PBI-Canada
La Sangre de la Tierra (The Blood of the Earth), a documentary film made by Peace Brigades International and Asociación Entrepueblos, is scheduled to be screened at the Planet in Focus film festival (October 15-20) in Toronto and at the International Symposium on Indigenous Languages (February 11, 2021) in Quebec City.
Peace Brigades International-Canada hopes to be able to encourage other film festivals in this country to also hold (virtual) screenings of the film. It may also be possible for independent cinemas and communities to organize virtual screenings.
The documentary film by Félix Zurita tells the story of community resistance to hydroelectric dams. Specifically, opposition to the Puebla 1 dam in Mexico, Los Planes in Honduras, and the Renace and Oxec dams in Guatemala.
On February 4, the Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project posted this article on its website that highlights, “In February of last year, PBI-Mexico accompanied, in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Félix Zurita, a Spanish documentary filmmaker, to record some images about the situation of defenders of their land, territory and the environment of the communities of San Mateo Tlacotepec, Altica and San Felipe Tepatlán.”
PBI-Mexico explains, “For more than a decade, in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, Totonac communities have fought for the survival of their traditions and the defense of their territory.” That struggle has included opposition to the construction of the Puebla 1 hydroelectric plant on the Ajajalpan River that began in February 2016.
On February 13 and February 26, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project hosted two screenings of the film in Guatemala City.
PBI-Guatemala accompanies both the Peaceful Resistance Cahabón and Nuevo Dia which are opposed to the Oxec and Renace hydroelectric dams.
Seven dams have been built on the Cahabón River and its tributaries. The two most recently completed dams are Oxec II which began operation in September 2018 and Renace IV which became operational in January 2019.
Numerous concerns have been raised about these dams, including their impacts on the river, tributaries and ecosystems, their lack of free, prior and informed consent, and the criminalization of human rights defenders who have opposed them.
PBI-United Kingdom has noted, “In August 2017, PBI provided security support to the good-faith consultation in which the 195 communities of the Cahabón River overwhelmingly rejected the Oxec hydroelectric projects.”
Not long after that, in November 2018, Bernardo Caal Xol, a high-profile member of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón and Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader opposed to the dams, was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison.
The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project has noted that its work in 2018 included: “Observations of hearings on criminalized people as part of the struggle of the Pajuiles community against the construction of a hydroelectric dam.”
PBI-Honduras has also explained in greater detail: “The Pajuiles sector, located in the Nombre de Dios mountain range in the Department of Atlántida, is affected by a hydroelectric plant called ‘Los Planes’, owned by the company HIDROCEP, on the Mezapa River.”
“In March 2017 [after the Public Ministry issued an opinion that their water was no longer suitable for consumption], the Pajuiles sector communities decided to install a camp in protest against the hydroelectric project. The consequences of this struggle and opposition have been evictions, criminalization of community members, attacks, and threats…”
“The camp has been repressed by tear gas on several occasions, such as in August 2017 after a confrontation in which several people were arrested, including a minor and the community leader Albertina López, who was heavily pregnant at the time of the arrest.”
PBI-Honduras adds: “In July 2018, the Administrative Court of San Pedro Sula ordered that the works be halted [but] even after that small progress, the difficulties continue to monitor the fulfillment of the court ruling.”