Justice for the assassinated Union Fenosa activists
The Spanish transnational corporation Union Fenosa has been operating in Guatemala since 1998 when electricity distribution was privatised in the country.
Thousands of consumers have filed complaints about the quality of the service and excessive billing for years. According to the record of the National Commission of Electric Energy, over 90,000 complaints were filed from January to May 2009 against the two subsidiaries of Union Fenosa in Guatemala: Distribuidora de Electricidad de Occidente (DEOCSA) and Distribuidora de Electricidad de Oriente (DEORSA).
As a result of the company's failure to act, the residents of San Marcos, Guatemala became involved with the Natural Resources and Indigenous Peoples Rights group known as FRENA. The movement opposes high charges for electricity and proposes the creation of a municipal company that will provide public electricity accessible to all. The leaders of FRENA have received many death threats as a result of the work they are doing.
Another tragic death
On February 17 another FRENA leader was killed. Octavio Roblero was shot at 5.30 pm outside his business at the bus terminal in Malacatan, San Marcos. Octavio was one of a number of FRENA activists who had received death threats. An appeal for his protection was filed before the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Justice in January but he was not granted the protection he needed.
Octavio Roblero, Evelinda Ramirez and Victor Galvez are all believed to have been shot for their work in exposing the abuses against the population committed by Deocsa, a subsidiary of Union Fenosa in Guatemala. They spoke out against the blackouts and excessive billing by Deocsa.
Friends of the Earth Guatemala believe it is necessary to carry out a thorough investigation in order to find the perpetrators of the murders and to determine responsibility at all levels.
They also believe all these incidents are an attempt to silence the actions of the social movements and human rights advocates who expose the violation of civil and constitutional rights of Guatemalans by different actors who find shelter in the impunity favoured by the Guatemalan government.
The Spanish government also have a responsibility to see that these murders are investigated. After complaints were filed with the Spanish authorities they have failed to implement any diplomatic or political measures necessary to clarify or stop this situation.
Please add your name to the letter below and send it to the following people:
Álvaro Colom, President of Guatemala; José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, President of the Spanish Government; José Montilla, President del Govern de la Generalitat de Catalunya; government Trade agencies and executives of Unión Fenosa, Gas Natural, La Caixa and Repsol YPF.
background on Victor galvez and Evelinda Ramirez Reyes
In July 2009 Victor Galvez, the leader of FRENA in the town of Malactan, was brutally attacked. Three months later in October he was fatally shot thirty times in view of many passers-by.
In response to the killing and intimidation there were many protests, demonstrations and road blocks which resulted in the government declaring a state of emergency in San Marcos. This state of emergency is still in force today and strongly restricts constitutional freedoms, such as the right to free speech, meetings and demonstrations.
In January a FRENA delegation arrived in Guatemala city to carry out several meetings with civil society organizations, and government agencies. The meetings were organized to expose DEOCSA, a subsidiary of Union Fenosa. When the meetings ended, the delegation returned to San Marcos.
During the return journey, the vehicle of Evelinda Ramirez Reyes and three other members of FRENA, was ambushed by a white car driven by two young men. The men fired shots into the vehicle injuring the driver.
As the driver tried to reverse and find a way out of the situation more shots were fired, this time hitting Evelinda in the chest. She died of her wounds.
Evelinda Ramirez Reyes was a 26 year-old single mother of a five year-old boy and a committed member of FRENA and the Committee of Peasant Unity. She will be sorely missed.