Justice Delayed 30 Years in Guatemala
In 1982, over 440 men, women and children from Rio Negro were killed, in large part to make way for the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, a project of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB).
The Rio Negro massacres were among hundreds committed during Guatemala’s internal conflict, in which the majority of over 200,000 Guatemalans killed or disappeared by the military regimes were unarmed indigenous Mayan civilians. The United Nations-sponsored Truth Commission concluded that in certain Mayan regions, including the Chixoy Dam area, the Guatemalan government committed genocide.
The Rio Negro massacres were emblematic of the forces that left Guatemalan civilians at the mercy of their entrenched oligarchy and powerful military (which received training in ruthless counter-insurgency techniques at the US Army School of the Americas), and a range of external actors, including wealthy nation governments, multinational corporations and international financial institutions.
Today, the Chixoy Dam-harmed communities, both down and up-river from the dam wall, are worse off than before the project. Communities dispersed by the dam construction subsist in varying conditions of poverty, violence and impunity that result directly and indirectly from the forced evictions, loss of ancestral lands and riparian way of life, separation from longstanding community support and inadequate access to water caused by the Chixoy Dam project. Environmental damage continues unchecked.