PBI-Guatemala meets with Abelino Salvador Mejía at the España River.
On February 15, PBI-Guatemala posted: “PBI accompanies three of the four criminalized defenders of the CCR in the signing of the book, in the Champerico Justice of the Peace in the department of Retalhuleu. Then we accompany to the España River, whose water is strongly affected by the agroindustry in the department.”
PBI-Guatemala accompanies Anabella España Reyes, Abelino Salvador Mejía, Flabio Vicente and Virgilio García Carrillo, criminalized water defenders on the Southern Coast of Guatemala who are part of the Council of Communities of Retalhuleu (CCR) and who have as a key demand the right to water.
Sugarcane production uses large amounts of water which impacts the availability of water for local community consumption. Large sugar mills use various means to guarantee their water supply, including diverting rivers and drilling wells for which they have not carried out adequate environmental impact studies.
In recent years there has been drought and pollution of wells, rivers and lagoons, as well as the destruction of livelihoods, causing lack of access to water and health problems such as malnutrition and respiratory and renal ailments.
Anabella, Abelino, Flabio and Virgilio began to organize in 2015 because of the adverse effects caused by the expansion of the monoculture of sugar and the use of large-scale agrochemicals and pesticides used by the mills in the region.
The four water protectors are now scheduled to be on trial on Monday March 14. They have been charged with illegal detention, coercion and threats, but they have stated: “We organize ourselves in a peaceful way to publicize the consequences of sugar cane, the diversion of rivers that the mills have.”
PBI-Guatemala has been accompanying Anabella, Abelino, Flabio and Virgilio of the Retalhuleu Community Council since April 2020.
Still from 7-minute video about this situation in Guatemala.