Experts Pressure Guatemalan President to Support Chixoy Reparations

Monday, March 14, 2011

Your Excellency
President of the Republic of Guatemala
Álvaro Colom Caballeros
6a. Avenida 4-19 zona 1 Casa Presidencial
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Dear Mr. President:

As you are aware, in 2004 the Government of Guatemala and The Coordinating Committee of Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy Dam (COCAHICH) initiated a roundtable discussion over reparations for damages inflicted on 33 communities as a result of the construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam. We understand that very meaningful advances have taken place as a result of the roundtable discussions, which have an enormous potential for creating substantial changes in the living conditions of the affected communities. In particular, we applaud the following steps that have been taken:

1) Your 20 November 2008 signed agreement to enter into negotiations with COCAHICH on behalf of affected communities to repair the damages resulting from the construction of the Chixoy Dam.

2) The Plan de Reparacion de Daños y Perjuicios Sufridos por las Comunidades Afectadas por la Construccion de la Hidroelectrica Chixoy developed by consensus between the government and affected communities and signed by your administration on 10 April 2010.

3) The approval by the Congress of the Republic of a budget of 70 million quetzales for the financial compensation of affected communities for the year 2011, which constitutes partial funding for reparations.

4) Your commitment during the Organization of American States-facilitated negotiations to issue an acuerdo gobernativo that codifies the Chixoy Reparations Plan within Guatemalan law.

Our concern, Mr. President, is that since approving the reparations plan in April, 2010, you have not signed the binding acuerdo gobernativo that you committed to as part of the roundtable discussion, and which is of vital importance to the fulfillment of the reparations plan.

Mr. President, it is with great respect that we write to you and ask that you honor your agreement by signing the governmental decree in favor of the communities affected by the construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam.

Our sole objective is to see these communities living in better conditions, with their fundamental human rights duly respected.

We look forward to your response, which you may direct to Ms. Monti Aguirre and Dr. Barbara Rose Johnston.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Monti Aguirre                         Dr. Barbara Rose Johnston
International Rivers                      Center for Political Ecology
2150 Allston Way Suite 300          PO Box 8467
Berkeley CA 94704                       Santa Cruz, CA 95061

Ms. Marcie Mersky
Chair, Impunity Watch Board
Former Chief of MINUGUA Transition Unit
Former Coordinator of the Guatemala's Historical Clarification Commission

Dr. Michael Cernea
World Bank Senior Adviser for Social Policies (1981-1997)
George Washington University Research Professor of Anthropology
Chairman of the Board, International Network on Displacement and Resettlement

Dr. Trudy Peterson
Consulting Archivist for the Government of Guatemala, World Bank, United States, United Nations

Dr. Alain Breton
Research Director, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France

Dr. Kathleen Dill
Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Univ.of California Hastings College of Law
CALDH Researcher, Plan de Sanchez case (2003)

Dr. William L. Partridge
Vanderbilt University Emeritus Professor of Human Development, Senior Advisor United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and Former World Bank Unit Chief for Environment and Social Development

Dr. Robert Goodland
World Bank Group Environmental adviser (1978-2001)
Member, World Bank Group Inspection Panel (2005-2006)
Past President, International Association for Impact Assessment

Dr. Thayer Scudder
Professor Emeritus California Institute of Technology
Former Commissioner on the World Commission on Dams.

Dr. Theodore E Downing
President, The International Network on Displacement and Resettlement
University of Arizona Research Professor of Social Development

Dr. Scott S Robinson
Profesor Antropología, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Iztapalapa México

Dr. Victoria Sanford
Director, Lehman Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies, City University of New York

Dr. Jean E. Jackson
Cultural Survival Board of Directors
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor of Anthropology

Dr. Anthony Oliver-Smith
University of Florida Emeritus Professor of Anthropology

Dr. Carmen Garcia-Downing
University of Arizona Indigenous Affairs Specialist

Mr. Lewis Gordon, Director
Environmental Defenders Law Center

Mr. Nicholas Hildyard
The Corner House, UK.

CC: Sr. José Miguel Insulsa, Secretary General of the OAS
Sr. Víctor Rico, Ambassador of the OAS
Sr. Roberto Menéndez, OAS facilitator of the Chixoy political negotiations roundtable
Sr. Carlos Larios Ochaita, Secretary General of the Guatemalan Presidency
Sr. Rolando Alfredo del Cid Pinillos, Public Finance Minister of Guatemala
Sr. Luis Alberto Moreno, Presidente, Inter-American Development Bank
Sr. Robert Zoellick, President World Bank
Sr. Sergio Fernando Morales, Attorney General Human Rights Office, Guatemala
Sr. Alberto Brunori, Representative of the High Commission Office of Human Rights of the UN in Guatemala
Sr. Stephen G. MacFarland, Ambassador of the United States in Guatemala
Sr. Lars Vaagen, Ambassador of the Regal Embassy of Norway in Guatemala