Raising Public Awareness

Raising the profile of the leaders the Center works with at the international level is one of the most effective ways of protecting their human rights and ensuring their security. For this reason, the Center has taken many actions to bring international attention to the Agua Caliente Lote 9's case and to protect the lives of the dedicated leaders and experts who are risking their lives to protect the land rights of the Agua Caliente community.

Foreign interest in Agua Caliente’s land and resources has led to several acts of intimidation and violence. Though the legal case continues to move forward, the lives of Carlos Pop, our local counsel for Agua Caliente, and Don Rodrigo Tot, Agua Caliente’s community leader, and their family members continue to be under serious threat. Don Rodrigo’s eldest son, Edwin Tot, was assassinated on October 2012, in retaliation for his father's opposition to mining activities in Agua Caliente’s land. His younger son survived an attack that same day. The pervasiveness of these acts of intimidation led the Center to request and attain precautionary measures to protect the lives of the community leaders, legal experts, and family members whose lives are currently at risk.

The Center’s advocacy efforts have included press releases, letters of appeal, workshops, and the production and dissemination of informative materials. Shortly after Guatemala’s Constitutional Court ruling in favor of Agua Caliente, the Center released a statement condemning the government’s lack of compliance. Moreover, the Center led a campaign to gain support from public figures, including former Secretary of State John Kerry. The Center also launched a radio campaign in Guatemala to raise awareness of the importance and precedent-setting nature of the case among local communities. In March 2013, the Center supported a delegation of Guatemalan indigenous leaders and attorneys traveling to Washington, D.C and facilitated meetings with U.S Government officials, civil society organizations, and with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.