About Agua Caliente Lote 9

Agua Caliente Lote 9 is a small Q’eqchi’ Maya community located in the municipality of El Estor, department of Izabal, Guatemala. Set up in the Guatemalan highlands, Agua Caliente is an agricultural community, and most of its members are monolingual in Q’eqchi Maya. Like many indigenous communities, the Agua Caliente have strong cultural and spiritual connections to their land which is critical to their physical and cultural survival. For more than 40 years, the Agua Caliente community has worked for the recognition of its land rights, even though their land ownership is protected under international law.
 
An extractive industry project is threatening Agua Caliente and sixteen neighboring Maya Q’eqchi’ communities’. The communities are particularly concerned about the long-term impacts mining activities will have on their environment. As agricultural communities, their livelihoods and food security are dependent on their land and natural resources, including the nearby river and lake Izabal--their only sources of clean water. Unfortunately, the situation of Agua Caliente and many other indigenous communities in Guatemala is becoming increasingly violent. Indigenous leaders and human rights advocates are often intimidated, threatened and, regrettably, killed. In El Estor, the “Fenix” mining project has sought to evict indigenous peoples from their land to pave the way for nickel exploitation. With the largest nickel deposits in the area, Agua Caliente has often become target of these business tactics.

Despite the threats to his personal safety Don Rodrigo Tot–Agua Caliente’s community leader – continues to lead an indomitable fight to protect his community’s rights to land, natural resources, sustainable development and self-determination. Don Rodrigo has led efforts to protect his community’s forest and water sources by standing up to illegal loggers and mining workers. Under Rodrigo’s leadership, the Agua Caliente community raised funds to construct a road that ensures the community’s sustainable development and access to health services. Rodrigo has also pushed for conservation efforts and to increase the involvement of women and youth on community development projects. Today, Rodrigo is leading a legal battle against mining interests to ensure that the Maya Q’eqchi’ people of Agua Caliente and surrounding communities have full collective ownership over their lands and natural resources.