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Murders, death threats, persecutions, repression and filing criminal reports are just some of the practices chosen by Italian corporation Enel to establish its hydroelectric project Palo Viejo in Quiché department, Guatemala.
This is what indigenous leader Baltazar de la Cruz Rodriguez, from the Mayan Ixil people told Real World Radio in an interview with our correspondent in the Alternative Water Forum in Marseille (France), Danilo Urrea.
“I personally received several death threats”, said Baltazar, and he added that Enel has filed eight complaints against him for his struggle against the hydroelectric dam. “(The company) wanted to leave me in jail for over 40 years”.
The Palo Viejo project implies the building of a dam down-stream Cotzal River and its three tributaries: Chipal, El Regadío and Arroyo Escondido.
The indigenous leader said that Enel arrived to the territories of the Ixil people without their consent, without providing information or consulting the local communities. It was in 2008 that the company started to establish itself in a communal land, according to Baltazar, and invaded Indigenous lands, denying them access to water sources.
Despite the requests by local communities, Enel hasn’t provided information about its hydroelectric project and went on without carrying out consultations. In addition, it repressed and persecuted leaders with the support of former President Alvaro Colom, according to Baltazar. The indigenous representative even blamed the Italian company for the murder of two young indigenous people, which was "covered" with tens of thousands of dollars.
With reference to the Indigenous demands, Baltazar said that they never aimed to receive something in exchange of their natural goods.
“They are not for sale”, he highlighted. “What we want is Enel to leave our territories, we want rivers to be free and that animals and people can have access to them. We don’t want life to end with the building of this dam”, he highlighted. “We don’t want a development imposed by transnational corporations, taking our natural resources away from us”, he concluded.
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