Central America – Upholding the water right in Las Granadillas Mountain

by Estela Garcia, LWF Central America

The Lutheran Church and communities of Chiquimula and Zacapa departments in Guatemala protect the water, forest, land and biodiversity of Las Granadillas Mountain of loggers.

Las Granadillas Mountain is the water font of 26 peasant and indigenous communities. Communities unified efforts to create the Association for the Protection, Defense and Ecological Restoration of the Las Granadillas Mountain (MLG).

Since September, 2008, started a conflict to protect the right of water when a logger closed the access to the water resource of the communities. People did pacific protests to recover their right to water, that unsuspected conclude with the arrest of the Lutheran Reverend Jose Pilar in January, 2009.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Department for World Service (DWS), Central America Programme gave legal assistance to the members of the Association for the Protection, Defense and Ecological Restoration of the Las Granadillas Mountain, including Reverend Pilar.

A national and international net was activated to denounce the case. The Guatemalan State rules in favor of Reverend Pilar and the loggers open the access to the water source. However, a license for logging was permitted in Las Granadillas and the communities dialogued to stop it, but the actions didn’t accomplish the objective.

Defense of “Las Granadillas Mountain”

In view of the deforestation, members of Zacapa and the MLG Association stopped logging trucks. The wood owners denounced 11 men of the community to threats, theft and illegal detention, whom were released by an agreement.

Nevertheless, people of La Trementina community built a wall to stop the logging trucks, but it was destroyed. As reaction, the community stopped the car of the land owner to ask him rebuild the wall, but he called the police, who sprayed people with lachrymatory, including children. Furthermore, 8 representatives of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala and the MLG Association were accused for private property crimes.

At March 7, 2011 the implicates were to the court but the audience was canceled unjustified by second time and postpone for April. In response, Historic Churches, communities of Zacapa and Chiquimula and organizations did an ecumenical activity.

These is why national, ecumenical and international organizations – including the Lutheran World Federation/ Department for World Service/ Department for Mission and Development, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – are supporting the Lutheran Church in Guatemala and the MLG Association in the defense of Las Granadillas.

The LWF/DWS Central America Programme wants to highlight in the World Water Day, 2011, the defender’s work to protect the reserve area in Las Granadillas Mountain for the population right to water, even under dead threat.

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