Merendon Mountains in the departments of Chiquimula and Zacapa

Area of ​​work and rights defended

The Ecumenical Coordinator works to protect the ecosystem of the Macizo del Merendon and the mountain Las Granadillas, Located between the Departments of Chiquimula and Zacapa, and which is home to the main water reserves and natural diversity of the region. The Coordinator defends the mountains against illegal logging of timber, the dedication of large tracts of land to livestock and monocultures, and against deforestation.

Description of the problem

The Ecumenical and Social Coordination for the Defense of Life in Zacapa and Chiquimula, formed in July 2013, brings together different entities, communities and individuals, including the Lutheran Church of Guatemala ILUGUA, the Diocese of the Catholic Church of Zacapa And Chiquimula, The Parishes of La Union and Jocotán, Ch'orti 'Nuevo Día Campesina Central Coordinator,The Anglican Church, MadreSelva Collective, Ch'orti' indigenous communities of Zacapa and Chiquimula and the Municipalities of Gualán, Zacapa, Jocotán and Camotán.

Among the local communities, one of the most affected in their access to water is the community of La Trementina (Zacapa), part of whose population has organized to defend their rights. One of the goals of the Coordinator is to get the Macizo del Merendon and the mountain Las Granadillas declared officially as a protected area. In March 2012, the National Council of Protected Areas (CONAP) presented a proposal for a declaration of protected area of ​​the mountain of Las Granadillas, but to date they have not received any information in this regard. The Coordinator brings together about 200,000 residents of the area, including a significant percentage of the Maya Ch'orti' population.

PBI has accompanied the process of defence of the Macizo del Merendón since 2008, when it began its accompaniment to the Association for the Defence of the Mountain of Las Granadillas (APMG), which existed until October 2013. Due to our presence in the area since 2008 and the observation of the human rights situation, PBI decided to initiate a formal accompaniment to the entities affiliated to the Ecumenical and Social Coordinator in April 2015. Amongst the central concerns of human rights defenders in the area include the ‘technological corridor’ megaproject, problems related to land and food, and the exploitation of the natural resources without prior information or consultation with the communities of the region. The economic interests exploiting the natural resources of the region, endanger the work of these actors.