Alianza por la Solidaridad’s TieRRRa campaign launched a collection of signatures to slow down the construction of the Renace complex, which violates the rights of 29,000 Quekchí indigenous people in Guatemala, until the Cobra-ACS company, owned by Florentino Pérez (president of Real Madrid), evaluates their social and environmental impacts. 

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On June Alianza por la Solidaridad presented their new case to the TieRRRA campaign designed to raise awareness to the “seizure” of a river by a hydraulic complex in indigenous lands in Guatemala where the Spanish Group Cobra-ACS is carrying out construction. The campaign aims to collect more than 10,000 signatures and send them to the firm.

The Corporación Multi-Inversiones Guatemalan group promotes the complex that will be the largest hydraulic plant in the country. The construction is located along 30 kilometres of the Cahabón riverbed in Alta Verapaz. However, it was constructed without any consultation of indigenous communities – as is required by the 169 International Convention of OIT. As a result, the water flow of the river, near the communities living with no electric energy and no drinking water, has almost disappeared.

The presentation of the campaign counted on Julio González, from the NGO Madre Selva of Guatemala, who demanded the “realization of an independent study to evaluate the economic, social and environmental global impact. The pressure you put in there with these signatures protects us”, he added.

In addition, Karen Ramírez from Pro-Vida/Foro del Agua Association of Salvador, denounced governments’ support of transnational firms above the human rights of indigenous people. “The communities are denouncing an abuse and the State takes years to respond. For companies, it takes 24 hours”.

In relation to the Renace hydraulic-plant, Julio González highlighted the fact that one of the most pressing issues for the people living nearby is the restricted access to water. “The company only lets people collect water from 7 am to 5 pm but water is essential for life. There is no schedule.” He illustrated the responsibility of the Cobra-ACS group: “A company who chooses to contribute to this disaster is accomplice of the deaths that may occur.”

Almudena Moreno, responsible for Alianza’s campaign, underlined that the investigation of this case took two years, emphasising that, thanks to false information obtained by CMI, the work of Renace was at first considered a good business practice. “The current disastrous state of the river and the lack of a real study of impacts are some of the points that make us think that things are not what they seem to be”.

Moreno indicated that the first phase of the campaign is collecting signatures from Spain to demand the suppression of the works to Florentino Pérez. After this, the campaign will be unveiled in Guatemala to pressure the Corporación Multi-Inversiones to consult the indigenous communities and if they are negatively affected, begin the process to halt the Renace construction.

 

By Arantxa Freire, Alianza por la Solidaridad