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29 October 2015 | |

Guatemala: two community leaders of Santa Cruz Barillas released after two years unfairly imprisoned

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(By Prensa Comunitaria) Rogelio Velasquez and Saul Mendez were released and acquitted of the crimes of which they were unfairly accused as part of a strategy of criminalization of the social struggle. They had been in a Huehuetenango prison for the past two years, wrongly accused of murder and femicide.

As with all criminalization cases, neither the Prosecution Office nor the accusers had evidence against the leader. Despite this, the Prosecutor demanded a 50-year sentence for them.

Saul and Rogelio are water defenders, they have a long history as community leaders, they were members of the Association for the defense of the territory, they organized and promoted the Good Faith Community Consultation in 2007 in Barillas.
They have been representing communities against the installation of Spanish company Hidralia Energia – Hidro Santa Cruz since 2011.

Their communities were the first to be organized in the defense of water, because they were the most affected by the hydroelectric project that this Spanish company has been trying to impose at all costs.

Saul Mendez is legally represented by lawyers Eduardo De Leon Chacaj and Juan Castro of the Mayan Lawyers Association, as well as lawyer Hector Reyes of the Center for Legal Action on Human Rights (CALDH).

Their wives, children and the community and q´anjob´al territory have suffered persecution and different attacks to prevent the people from opposing the building of a hydroelectric project that has brought nothing else but murder, detentions, forced displacements, criminal persecution, a state of emergency, effects on the health and community life, community division, rumors and the militarization of their lives.

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