Bernardo Caal Xol is a well-respected teacher, community leader, and human rights defender in Guatemala.
Bernardo has accompanied the Maya Q'eqchi' people of Santa Maria Cahabón, Alta Verapaz, in voicing their opposition to a major hydroelectric project that threatens their rivers and their way of life.
For his efforts in defense of the environment, Bernardo has suffered threats, defamation campaigns, and criminalization.
In an attempt to silence Bernardo, and to send a message to others like him, he was falsely accused of detaining workers of the hydroelectric dam during a public meeting in 2015 and stealing from their pickup truck.
Two years later he was arrested and brought to trial. Despite the overwhelming evidence of his innocence, a local judge accused him of being “an instigator” and sentenced him to 7 years and 4 months in prison!
For the past 800 days, an innocent man has been serving time in jail for crimes that he did not commit. Bernardo is a man of great faith and conviction, and bears his unjust punishment with grace and strength:
“Being in jail does not discourage me. Together with my compañeros (colleagues) we are touching on core elements of cooptation and corruption which prevail in Guatemala and we are defending ourselves against the plundering, the corruption, the destruction of our rivers.”
What scares Bernardo, though, is not being able to support his family while he is prison. He is especially worried that his daughters, aged 11 and 13, won’t be able to continue their education.
The Human Rights Defenders Project would like to support Bernardo by supporting his family. We invite you to join us in showing Bernardo that he has not been forgotten, that his family will not suffer, that justice will be done.
100% of your donations will go to meeting the urgent needs of Bernardo’s family:
· School fees and transportation for his girls.
· Assistance with the family’s bills: food, medicine, etc.
· If there is extra, we will purchase clothing, toiletries, food, and other urgent needs for Bernardo.
In a time of universal crisis and suffering, this is a chance to make a difference: to support a real hero and his family. To send the message:
We stand for justice.
We stand for human rights.
We stand for the environment.
We stand with Bernardo.