GUATEMALA: FREE INDIGENOUS PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE BERNARDO CAAL XOL
Bernardo Caal Xol is a Maya Q’eqchi’ Indigenous community leader and teacher who is behind bars and in danger for defending the rights of his people.
At the request of dozens of Indigenous communities, Bernardo took legal action to stop the Oxec I and II dam projects on the Cahabón River for violating Indigenous rights.
Bernardo has paid a heavy price for defending his people and their sacred river. Authorities charged him with trumped up charges and sentenced him to more than seven years in jail, even though there was no evidence. Since then, Bernardo has been denied his right to appeal this wrongful conviction.
In Guatemala, unfounded legal charges are a common means to paralyze the peaceful efforts of anyone who dares to speak up for indigenous rights and the environment on which they depend.
Bernardo Caal Xol is a prisoner of conscience. He is now at grave risk of contracting COVID-19, amid overcrowded prison conditions.