In this edition Maximo Ba Tiul, the head of international relations, presents the Tezulutlan Peoples’ Council, a member organisation of the Network that represents indigenous communities in Guatemala.
Could you introduce your organisation?
The Tezulutlan People’s Council (Consejo de Pueblos de Tezulutlan, CPT) is a network of Q’echi, Poqomchi’, and Alchi indigenous communities in the regions of Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz in the north of Guatemala. It was created in the year 2010 to represent some 80 communities with a total of approximately 15,000 families.
The CPT has a political council consisting of indigenous leaders (who are called K’amalb’e or “people who pave the way”) and an academic technical team of 2 people. Moreover, the CPT closely collaborates with academicians who give both technical and conceptual support to help the communities to coordinate action to defend the “Sacred Land”.
How did you get to know the Carbon Market Watch network and what are your expectations for its future?
The Carbon Market Watch supported us when we filed a complaint with the Clean Development Mechanism Council and is helping us to fight against the Hidroeléctrica de Santa Rita project. It gives us support so that the network taking part in the Santa Rita campaign can affect investment development banks.
What is the current Santa Rita situation?
The project is a standstill thanks to local and international mobilisations. The planning permission for the project expired in January 2015.
The project is also being investigated by the CAO, the independent resource mechanism for projects supported by bodies of the World Bank Group that take care of the private sector.
We hope that the project will be abandoned definitively. The fight against Santa Rita has made the communities realise that private companies must respect their rights.
What are the working areas of your organisation?
- Investigation: we take no action before fully investigating the situations, the players, and what is at stake.
- Political impact: the CPT represents the interests of the communities at national and international organisations and institutions, and especially at the development banks that provide economic resources to develop the extractivist model.
- Training/Education: the CPT informs the communities of their indigenous and human rights and helps them to organise themselves. It also trains instructors in each community.
- Communication: we teach use of the media (such as filming, taking photos, etc.) and how the leaders can use the resources. We also have a project for the creation of a community resource.
What are the greatest achievements of your organisation and why?
- The CPT has strengthened the organisation of communities.
- The community leaders now know their rights concerning the State, international bodies, and development banks.
- We have also helped women to play a more important role and to make themselves heard.
- The Council is now an interlocutor with important national institutions such as the Attorney General’s Office for the defence of rights, the Secretariat for Agricultural Affairs, the Land Fund, the Supreme Court of Justice, universities, etc.
- We have established networks with NGOs from Europe and the United States in order to defend the natural resources of indigenous territories.
Interview with Maximo Ba Tiul
Conducted by Pierre-Jean Braiser, Network Coordinator
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