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, only fluent in Q’eqchi Maya. Like many indigenous communities, the Agua Caliente has strong cultural and spiritual connections to its land, which is critical to their physical and cultural survival. For more than 40 years, the Agua Caliente community has been working to get its land rights recognized by the state, 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. These communities are particularly concerned about the long-term impacts that mining activities could 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 a target of these business tactics.

Despite the threats to his personal safety, 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. 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 promoted conservation efforts and has sought 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 the other sixteen communities have full collective ownership over their lands and natural resources.