Misuse of the justice system to imprison indigenous environment defenders in Guatemala is an all too common practice designed to silence them and paralyze their vital struggles for human rights. This is happening at a time when Guatemala is experiencing devastating impacts of climate change, including water shortages, crop failures and famine.
Bernardo Caal Xol is a Maya Q’eqchi’ teacher and trade unionist who is in jail, although he has committed no crime.
Authorities prosecuted Caal Xol with trumped up charges as he was successfully leading a peaceful struggle by communities seeking to protect the Cahabón River from big dam projects that violate indigenous rights, affect fish stocks and limit Indigenous communities’ access to water. Caal Xol was convicted without evidence. Since then, on six separate occasions, authorities have cancelled scheduled court hearings for an appeal of the wrongful conviction.