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U.S.Congress: Implement reparations for victims of the Chixoy Dam project

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The construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, discussed in my previous post, has often been cited as “development at its worst”.  Financed by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the project led to the displacement, torture and death of thousands of Maya Achi area residents.

Chixoy Hydroelectric Plant, Guatemala

Chixoy Hydroelectric Plant. Author: INDE  [CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Nearly 32 years after a series of army- and paramilitary-led massacres, the survivors saw an advance in their long struggle for justice, via a directive in the new U.S. appropriations bill aimed at the World Bank and the IADB.

Per the U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Bill  signed into law on January 17:

“The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States executive directors of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to report….. on the steps being taken by such institutions  to support implementation of the April 2010 Reparation Plan for Damages Suffered by the Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam in Guatemala.”  p. 1240, Section F.

In short,  Congress is directing the U.S. directors of the World Bank and IADB to make regular reports on the progress of the implementation of the 201o Reparation Plan.  Although technically the U.S. can’t obligate the World Bank to act, it holds considerable weight as one its largest donors.

Chixoy Dam, Rio Negro massacre, Guatemala, genocide

Cross of Remembrance – Rio Negro Massacres . Author: Burt Hanson, International Rivers (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Background: The Chixoy reparations plan was the product of years of activism by the Maya Achi survivors, as well as partner solidarity groups.  In 2005, after more than ten years of struggle, the government of Guatemala formally accepted responsibility for the harm caused by the project and a $145,000 reparations plan was brokered by the Organization of the American States. Nearly four years later, the current president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina (a former army general with his own history of human rights violations), has refused to take substantive steps to implement the Reparation Plan. The World Bank and IADB have not taken responsibility. 

Please view this compelling video, “No Reparations, No Peace” about the struggle of the Chixoy survivors to attain justice:

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