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Despite the threats to “foreigners” by Otto Perez Molina administration for participating in social demonstrations in Guatemala, the members of the Latin American Network of People Affected by Dams marched on Sunday, October 6th in different regions of the country. The demonstrations marked the kick-off of the 5th meeting of the continental network held in Las Cruces municipality, in Peten department.
Real World Radio interviewed Eric Hernandez of CEIBA-Friends of the Earth Guatemala. He explained that REDLAR is made up by organizations of South America and Mesoamerica and that the previous tours are aimed at expressing solidarity with the communities resisting the construction of dams.
The meeting aims to share experiences of struggle and resistance and to have a common analysis of the population’s energy demand, instead of that of corporations involved in megaprojects. Those corporations are actually the raison d’être of dams, whose projects are proliferating in several parts of the country.
The previous meeting took place in Costa Rica and it gathered people from Mesoamerica. The participants agreed to expand and strengthen the continental coordination, explains Eric, who is part of the organizing committee.
The struggle against dams and the privatization of territories is an important item in Guatemala’s social and political agenda. Corporations are doing strong lobby by reaching agreements with Perez Molina administration. They pay hitmen and promote social violence against community leaders, while the do strong publicity linking dams with happiness and development. In the radio and TV broadcasting of sports events there is publicity of megaprojects.
Eric says the REDLAR meeting will help to breathe new life into the Guatemalan movement of resistance against dams and for rivers.
Real World Radio is in Guatemala, where it will join a verification mission in Santa Cruz Barillas municipality, a recently militarized area. Several community members have been imprisoned since in April 2012 the resistance to the construction of Hydro Santa Cruz led to strong public demonstrations. The people had already rejected the project in community consultations.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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