Image from Colectivo Madre Selva documentary.

PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón and the unjustly imprisoned Q’eqchi’ defender Bernardo Caal Xol.

Caal Xol is a leader of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón, a collective of 38 Maya Q’eqchi communities, that was formed to oppose the construction of the Oxec and Renace dams on the Cahabón River and its tributaries.

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.”

The Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC) highlights: “A few months later [in December 2017], Bernardo was arrested [in] a clear act of retribution for the defense of his community’s water rights.”

In November 2018, Bernardo was sentenced to seven years and four months in jail.

Amnesty International has declared that Caal Xol is a prisoner of conscience who has been wrongfully imprisoned. The GHRC says Caal Xol’s criminalization was a clear act of retribution for his defense of the Cahabón River.

The two most recently completed dams on Cahabón River are Oxec II which began operation in September 2018 and Renace IV which became operational in January 2019. These dams were built without free, prior, and informed consent.

The documentary notes that communities and the Colectivo Madre Selva are now mobilizing to stop the construction of yet another dam, Oxec III.

To see the Colectivo Madre Selva documentary about this struggle, please click here. The 44-minute documentary is subtitled in English.

PBI provided security and support to a community-organized good faith consultation in 2017 that rejected construction of the Oxec dams on the Cahabón River.


Support our 40th Year Anniversary Campaign by making a donation

2021 is Peace Brigades International's 40th Year Anniversary!


Whether human rights defenders fight for social equality, justice, or environmental and indigenous rights, we must protect their vision of the future. For 40 years, PBI has provided protection so defenders can continue their work. With your support, we can ensure that PBI-USA can continue to make space for peace.


Please consider donating to our campaign.

Make checks payable:


Peace Brigades International-USA
P.O. Box 75880
Washington, DC 20013


Don't forget to connect with us on social media for the latest updates and human rights news.