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Bernardo Ermitaño López Reyes

Bernardo Ermitaño López Reyes

HRD, Member
Consejo de Pueblos Mayas – CPO

Bernardo Ermitaño López Reyes is a leader of civil society in Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango, and a member of the Council of Mayan Peoples (Consejo de Pueblos Mayas – CPO). He has acted as a facilitator and mediator of dialogue between the government institutions and community groups in Barillas and northern Huehuetenango, where large-scale, government supported development projects are widely opposed by local populations, including indigenous communities, amid reports of violations of human and environmental rights in the process of the projects' development.

A serious issue is the unfair use of criminal proceedings in order to prevent HRDs from carrying out their legitimate human rights activities. Many criminal proceedings are launched by private companies (often backed by European and North American governments) related to the mining sector and the construction of dams, spuriously accusing HRDs of crimes such as acts of terrorism, usurpation of land, kidnappings and others. As part of the criminalisation process, campaigns of defamation and stigmatisation have been carried out by both state and non-state actors, particularly transnational companies and right-wing media publications. State authorities continue to publish statements and press releases in which they publicly incriminate HRDs on unverified charges.