On April 11, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Today PBI accompanies Bernardo Caal Xol in another hearing in Cobán that seeks to criminalize him.”
Bernardo was released from prison in Cobán on March 24, reportedly for good behavior, after more than four years of imprisonment.
Bernardo was criminalized in January 2018 and spent 1,520 days in prison for his peaceful opposition to the hydroelectric company Oxec S.A. building dams on the Ox-eek’ and Cahabón Rivers on Mayan Q’eqchi’ territory without free, prior and informed consent.
When he was released, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said: “It’s great news for Bernardo, his family and Guatemala’s Indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities that he can leave prison and be reunited with his loved ones after more than four years of being a prisoner of conscience.”
Significantly, Guevara-Rosas further noted: “Bernardo remains convicted of a crime he did not commit and thus the Guatemalan authorities continue to criminalize him for his work in defense of human rights and the environment.”
Bernardo has further highlighted: “The struggle continues, the struggle continues. We do not stop because today the Q’eqchi’ people are at the epicenter of dispossession and looting. …The defense of the rivers, in this case the Cahabón River continues. Until I achieved the freedom of those rivers, just as I obtained my freedom.”
On March 26, PBI-Guatemala accompanied him and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon as he left Cobán and returned to Santa María Cahabón. PBI-Guatemala accompanied Bernardo a few days later at a media conference on March 31.
The video of the 45-minute press conference can be seen here.
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied Bernardo and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon since August 2017.
To watch the 28-minute video of Bernardo comment’s outside the courthouse today, please click here.