Resource Conflict in Montaña Las Granadillas in Guatemala

To cope with logging and illegal logging, and the obstruction of access to water sources by the owners of haciendas in Montaña Las Granadillas, located in the province of Zacapa, Guatemala, the rural population affected created the Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG) in 2003. Although dialogue had developed between the local population and high-level authorities of the executive branch, logging continues in Montaña, endangering the watershed’s capacity and, therefore, the local people’s food sovereignty and future food supply.

Conceptual Model

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksChanges in land use reduce available/usable land.Changes in land use reduce available/usable freshwater.Freshwater becomes scarce as an essential resource.Land scarcity hampers agricultural production.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources leads to distributive conflicts between societal groups.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources provokes discontent with the state.A, change in the usage of environmentally relevant land.Land Use ChangeReduced, availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityAn increase in the scarcity of clean water and/or an increased variability in water supply.Increased Water ScarcityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural ResourcesNon-violent or violent tensions and conflicts between different societal groups.Grievances between Societal GroupsChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances

Conflict history

The Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG)

In 2003, the Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG) was created, comprising people from the communities nearby Montaña Las Granadillas, to address diverse problems, such as legal and illegal logging, the use of large private land areas for livestock and monocrops, deforestation and obstruction of access to water sources, among others. Their actions are geared to protect water sources in Montaña Las Granadillas, since they argue that Montaña Las Granadillas is the main and actually only water source for the local population.

APMG's alliances and actions

Since the beginning, APMG has been backed by the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILUGUA), and works in alliance with diverse organizations and collectives of the region, taking such actions and initiatives as lawsuits, protests and field visits. As a part of its actions, APMG has blocked the way to prevent legal and illegal logging trucks, and some of its members have been sued for their work to protect La Montaña. In November 2009, the Memorandum of Commitment by Council No. 19 was signed by the authorities and the local population. This commitment contained protection of natural ecosystems for Montaña Las Granadillas, providing for the necessary studies regarding forestry licenses granted previously, to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and biodiversity in Montaña Las Granadillas.

APMG members criminalization

Over time, there has been dialogue among the parties involved in the conflict, including public authorities and private stakeholders, to promote the defense of economic, social and cultural rights in Zacapa and in the region. However, starting in 2010, members of APMG have been threatened and criminalized, with legal accusations and police arrests (GAM, 2011; PBI, 2013). For instance, in early 2010 some members of APMG were sued for their work to protect La Montaña, especially blocking highways. APMG has explained that these accusations are untruthful and baseless and called for them to be corrected.

Human rights protection in question

On 24th of October 2011, at APMG’s request, a thematic hearing with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC) led the IHRC to issue recommendations for the Guatemalan Government, such as, for example, to declare the area as a Sprint Water Protection Reserve to guarantee the inhabitants’ human right to water. Further, they recommended for the Government of Guatemala to ensure the security, safety and protection of human rights for the communities defending and protecting Montaña Las Granadillas and prohibit clear-cutting, in order to preserve water sources. At the same time, in 2011 a hearing with the Criminal-law Court of Zacapa was held against eight human rights advocates who are defending Montaña Las Granadillas (GAM, 2011).

Actors

Actor
Participation
Functional group
Geographical scale
Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG)
Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG)
Participation
Functional group
Civil Society
Geographical scale
Internal grassroots
Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Participation
Functional group
Public
Geographical scale
Internal national
Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILUGUA)
Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILUGUA)
Participation
Functional group
Civil Society
Geographical scale
Internal national
Conflict Party
Conflict Resolution Facilitator

Conflict resolution

The APMG was created as a peaceful civil-society movement resulting from deforestation of Montaña Las Granadillas and its impacts on the region’s water resources, and enforcing the human right to water and protesting and appealing to international human rights agencies. Conflict resolution modes have therefore been primarily political and legal. There have been attempts at dialogue between the local population and authorities that have reached no agreements. In 2010, the situation got worse when local residents were threatened through the local media (PBI, 2013). Against this background, the conflict remains alive.

Resilience and Peace Building

3

Dialogue

Over time, there has been dialogue among the parties involved in the conflict, including public authorities and private stakeholders, to promote the defense of economic, social and cultural rights in the region. However, these dialogues have reached no agreements.

3

Mediation & arbitration

At APGM’s request a thematic hearing with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC) was held. The IHRC recommended for the Guatemalan Government to ensure the security, safety and protection of human rights for the communities defending and protecting Montaña Las Granadillas and prohibit clear-cutting, in order to preserve water sources.

4

Treaty/agreement

In 2009, authorities and the local population signed a memorandum for the protection of natural ecosystems, and to provide the necessary studies regarding forestry licenses granted previously, to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and biodiversity in Montaña Las Granadillas.

3

Promoting social change

In 2003, local communities created the Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG) to cope with the deforestation of the mountain and its impacts on the region’s water resources. The civil-society movement has been backed by the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILUGUA), and works in alliance with diverse organizations and collectives of the region.