Chixoy Reparations Agreement Signed! Justice for Chixoy Dam-Affected Communities

When a wave of newcomers came to Maya-Achi lands in the 1970s with the idea of building the Chixoy Dam, no one knew that the lives of these indigenous peoples were going to be utterly transformed. Displaced, impoverished and disrespected, these communities endured unthinkable hardships in the middle of a war civil war. More than 400 of their women and children were massacred because of their opposition to the dam, and the project left them landless and without income or livelihood. Despite the circumstances, the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank financed the project to the tune of $400 million.

Yet, the resilience of the Maya-Achi is paying off. Since the late 1990s, communities affected by the dam have been demanding reparations for their losses, and they have finally achieved them. In mid-April 2010, the 33 communities affected by Chixoy Dam signed an agreement with the government of Guatemala that promises to repair to some degree the damages and losses caused by the construction of the dam for more than 11.000 affected peoples.

This historic event sets an important precedent, showing governments, dam-financiers and dam-builders that they will be held accountable for their actions, even if it takes decades of struggle.