Read the latest letter from political prisoner Bernardo Caal Xol, then sign the petition and/or take the suggested actions at the bottom of the page:
False Christmas in Guatemala
Some have assimilated the phrases “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays”… Most often, they are empty words.
What Merry Christmas can families evicted and labeled as invaders in the Q’eqchi’ region have?
What Merry Christmas can First Peoples who are persecuted, assassinated, murdered, excluded and discriminated against have?
What is the Merry Christmas for families in extreme poverty in Guatemala? All so that wealth can be concentrated in a few hands and a few families.
What is the Merry Christmas for the thousands of boys and girls with chronic malnutrition because of the lack of food security?
What Merry Christmas can be had by the families that see our sacred rivers kidnapped and tortured, River Cahabon and River Ox-eek’, in Q’eqchi’ territory? All because some fellows want to build their hydroelectric dams there.
What Merry Christmas will be had by Guatemalan families whose family members have had to emigrate because of lack of opportunities?
What Merry Christmas will be had by families bereaved by the trailer and truck accident in Gualan, Zacapa?
This is part of my writings in the four walls of prison. Meanwhile Christmas is a business and distraction to emit more arrest warrants against defenders of human rights and territory. Religion continues putting to sleep and tricking the consciences of the masses, just as it did with its arrival in these lands over 500 years ago.
-Bernardo Caal Xol
16,500 hours of torture, imprisoned at the petition of the businesses that have stripped the Cahabon River from us.
December 22, 2019, Coban Jail, Coban, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
The Guatemala Solidarity Project is committed to working in solidarity long term with the community San Jose el Tesoro. Here are some suggested actions for you to collaborate in this struggle:
1) Sign the petition calling for freedom for Bernardo Caal Xol
We are a volunteer run organization, and 100% of donations are sent to our partners. Our partners also prioritize where funds go. We thank our fiscal sponsor, the UPAVIM Community Development Foundation (also volunteer run), for helping us ensure that your contributions are tax deductible and that all funds go to our partners in Guatemala. Click here to donate online via paypal. To donate via check please make check out to “UPAVIM Community Development Foundation” and mail to UPAVIM, PO Box 63, Marshfield, VT 05658. Please write “GSP” in the notes/memo section of the check. We are committed to visiting political prisoners like Bernardo Caal at least once a month and brining food, medicine and/or clothes during our visit.
3) Call and/or write your member of congress
If you are in the United States, please call and/or write your Senator and/or House representative and ask them to oppose violence against indigenous communities in Guatemala. The US government has historically supported genocide against indigenous communities in Guatemala as part of a strategy to steal natural resources from indigenous territory. If you send an email, please consider cc:ing us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can follow up with the member of congress that you contact.
“My name is ____ and I live in your district. I am very concerned about Bernardo Caal Xol, who is a political prisoner in Guatemala. Bernardo is in prison for supporting a legal petition requesting that the government of Guatemala respect the rights of indigenous Q’eqchi’ communities and to consult them regarding the use of their land and natural resources, including the illegal construction of dams on the Cahabon and Oxec rivers. I am disturbed that the World Bank and other US funded development banks are financing corporations that take advantage of the corrupt Guatemalan government to promote theft of natural resources from indigenous people. Please contact the US State Department and ask that they do everything in their power to work for the release of Bernardo Caal Xol.”
(If you contact a member of the House, please also consider asking them to co-sponsor the Chixoy International Financial Institution Accountability Act. Sample text for this ask: “I would also like your office to sign on as a co-sponsor to the Chixoy International Financial Institution Accountability Act. This legislation directs US representatives of multilateral development institutions to vote against funding of projects that ignore human rights violations. It is being led by Representative Jesus Garcia and also supported by Representative Jan Schakowski.”)
4) Join us in Guatemala
We have many opportunities for people to join us in Guatemala. The easiest way for new volunteers to collaborate is by joining our solidarity delegations. Our next solidarity delegation is scheduled for May 31 – June 5, 2020 and will be focused on health care. We will be organizing a 10-day delegation focused on land rights in June/July that will visit indigenous communities and political prisoners, but have not yet confirmed the exact dates. Click here for more information on our solidarity delegations, or email us at email@example.com if you are interested in other volunteer opportunities.