"Guatemala's Indigenous Community Threatened By Mega-Dam Project"

"Q'eqchi Mayan families vow to fight construction, which they say will destroy their livelihoods and flood ancestral land."

"The indigenous inhabitants of Margaritas Copón, Guatemala, have survived for more than 100 years by cultivating the land along the Chixoy and Copán rivers with virtually no assistance from the state.

The isolated community, close to the Mexican border, has no health clinic, electricity or secondary school, and can only be reached via a three-hour drive on unpaved roads.

The 60 Q'eqchi Mayan families, of whom only a handful speak Spanish, feel fortunate that the fertile soil provides an abundance of maize, beans, yucca, potatoes, pineapples and tomatoes to eat, and plenty of cardamom to sell at local markets.

But this traditional way of life is being threatened by the construction of a gigantic hydroelectric dam, which would flood their ancestral land. These families are among thousands of Q'eqchi Mayans facing forced eviction and destruction of livelihoods to make way for the Xalalá project, which the government insists will bring development."

Nina Lakhani reports for the Guardian May 21, 2014.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014