State of Emergency: The militarization of communities resisting extractive and energy projects in Guatemala

As the movements against mining and hydroelectric dam projects in Indigenous lands have been gathering momentum in Guatemala, the government has been curbing civil liberties and resorting to militarization in those same areas. From 2012 to 2014, the Guatemalan government decreed states of prevention, emergency and siege in several regions where conflicts and human rights violations accompanied planned extractive and energy projects. The freedoms of movement and assembly guaranteed by the Constitution were suspended, and exceptional powers were granted to the military. This reporting project will investigate the practice of declaring states of exception, the aftermath in and responses of communities mobilizing to protect their lands and waters from industrial exploitation, and what kind of chilling effect the measures may be having on environmental and Indigenous movements.

Sandra Cuffe is a Canadian freelance journalist based in Central America. She has lived in Honduras on and off for half of the past decade, and has also filed stories from Guatemala, Belize and Nicaragua. Sandra’s reporting focuses on environmental, Indigenous, and human rights issues. Her publications include Earth Island Journal, Briarpatch magazine, Upside Down World, and The Dominion.