Bernardo Caal Xol is in prison right now for speaking out against the destruction of the river Cahabón in north central Guatemala. Sign the petition and demand his release now.
Why am I in jail? For denouncing what they are doing to the rivers, defending what little is left?Bernardo
Bernardo and other members of the Maya Q’eqchi’ Indigenous community in north central Guatemala risk everything to protect their land against destruction. In 2015, the Q´eqchi´s communities became aware of ongoing constructions of two hydroelectric power plants in the Q’eqchi’s Cahabón river. The river is one of the longest in Guatemala, and is sacred to the Maya Q’eqchi’. Construction of the power plants had already stripped their forests and they were losing the precious water they needed to survive. Bernardo and other members of the community decided to speak out, and risked everything to do it.
In response to his protests, Bernardo was publicly smeared with repeated and baseless accusations. In 2018, a judge sentenced him to over seven years in prison – without any evidence.
Indigenous Peoples make up 40% of Guatemala’s population. They often live on land that is rich in resource. They are frequently labeled as standing in the way of commercial interests, and are threatened, harassed, and even killed in the drive to exploit natural resources from their land.
People like Bernardo protect the land for their communities and for future generations to come. Like many others around the world, Bernardo is being punished for protecting the environment by the very people who are destroying it. He must be released immediately.