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Rogelio Velásquez

Rogelio Velásquez


Rogelio Velásquez is a human rights defender from Santa Cruz Barillas in Huehuetenango, western Guatemala, who has been working to prevent the installation of a hydroelectric power plant by the Spanish company Hidro Santa Cruz on the lands of the Maya-q'anjob'al indigenous community.

This company is alleged to have used persons with links to the military, paramilitaries and organised crime as security agents, a number of whom are believed to have been involved in physical attacks, threats and killings. A consultation process in which 40,000 residents of Santa Cruz Barillas expressed their opposition to the project was carried out in 2007, and has since been steadfastly ignored.

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.