Protect the land, livelihood and culture of indigenous communities
from permanent damage caused by the
exploitation of natural resources


The Dominican Family (Order of Preachers) and their partners in Guatemala are engaged in promoting the protection of indigenous communities, their human rights and for environmental justice in Guatemala. 

Join us in supporting their engagement!

The situation in Guatemala continues to be of great concern to the global Human Rights community. Since former President Jimmy Morales declined to extend the mandate of the United Nations-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) in 2018, investigations have slowed down, limiting accountability for large-scale government corruption and abuses of power, endangering the rights of Guatemalan citizens.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Indigenous women and men in Guatemala regularly face death threats as they struggle in their territories to protect the rivers, forests and mountains that sustain their lives against unsustainable exploitation of natural resources. Despite the fact that Guatemala has ratified several international treaties defending indigenous peoples, from 2016 to 2020, 1,641 attacks against human rights defenders have been registered, by which 61% were against indigenous activists.[1] Since several years, the Dominican Family in Guatemala is engaged with more than 200 indigenous communities of the Q'eqchi' ethnic group in the remote region of Santa María Cahabón to promote their rights and the protection of the environment from the massive hydroelectric development of the company Oxec. 


“From their Mayan Q'eqchi' cosmovision, the rural population considers that the river, which they view alive and sacred, has been captured without asking for the consent of the population.” indicates a friar based in the region. Besides the clear violation of the right of the indigenous communities to be consulted, the environmental impacts of the projects are evident. As watersheds dry up, communities lose access to their traditional water uses (drinking, irrigation, livestock, fishing, cleaning and recreation) on which their livelihoods are based. This has profound consequences for families, farmers and fishermen who depend on the river for their activities. The loss of water is total, particularly during the dry season.

Project Title:   

Protect the Land, Livelihood and Culture of Indigenous Communities from Permanent Damage Caused by the Exploitation of Natural Resources 

Location: Santa María Cahabón, Guatemala and Geneva, Switzerland 
Main objective: Strengthen the capacity of the Dominican network in Guatemala for advocacy at the national and international level and promote the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.
Duration: 18 months
Direct beneficiaries
  • Dominican promoters of Justice and Peace in Central America 
  • Dominican partners in Guatemala involved in justice and peace
  • Franciscan partners in Guatemala 
  • Other partner organizations in Guatemala
Indirect beneficiaries: All indigenous communities affected by the exploitation of natural resources in Guatemala, especially by hydroelectric projects
Main activities:  
1.  Preparation for advocacy 
a.     Redaction of a summary document of the situation in Guatemala on indigenous peoples/human rights defenders, the right to water and the impacts of the exploitation of natural resources on human rights and the environment.
2.  Engagement at the UN Human Rights Council on Guatemala
a.     Joint advocacy during the Human Rights Council in March around the presentation of the High Commissioner’s report on Guatemala;
3.  Engagement with the UN Universal Periodic Review process
a.     Preparation of a UPR report
b.     Participation at the pre-session of the Universal Periodic Review of Guatemala and lobbying with Permanent Missions in Geneva;
c.     Participation in the UPR of Guatemala, including a preparatory training session
d.     Delivering of an oral statement at the Human Rights Council’s session following the review
e.     Organisation of a debriefing session after the UPR in which lessons learned and good practices will be identified
f.      Preparation of the monitoring of the Universal Periodic Review of Guatemala and its recommendations
4.  Participation at the 72nd session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)
a.     Preparatory training session on CESCR engagement
b.     Participation at the 72nd session of the CESCR, which will review the human rights record of Guatemala
c.     Organisation of a debriefing session after the CESCR review and identification of lessons learned and good practices 
Expected results:
1. Human rights defenders will have the capacity to share their inputs in the various reviews by the UN of Guatemala.
2. The impacts of the hydroelectric power on indigenous rights in Guatemala are actively monitored.
3. The human rights violations against indigenous peoples occurring in Guatemala are raised at the United Nations.
4. The situation in Guatemala will obtain visibility at an international level and the Government will be prompted to follow recommendations. 
5. The relevant issues regarding indigenous communities affected by hydroelectric projects are raised by Member States, leading to increased scrutiny on Government practice. 
6. Next steps are established following the project to ensure the continuation of advocacy work on these issues. 

Budget:  66,866 CHF


To contact the project proponents:
In Geneva: Laurence Blattmer,
In Guatemala: fr. Ricardo Guardado,

[1] “Activistas por la vida, rostros y voces de la violencia en Honduras y Guatemala”, Gervasio Sánchez, 1.11.2020, available online: