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Mapping environmental conflicts and cooperation

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Resource Conflict in Montaña Las Granadillas in Guatemala

Type of conflict main
Intensity 1
Region
Central America
Time 2003 ‐ ongoing
Countries Guatemala
Resources Biodiversity, Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water, Forests
Conflict Summary To cope with logging and illegal logging, and the obstruction of access to water sources by the owners of haciendas in Montaña Las Granadillas, located in...
Resource Conflict in Montaña Las Granadillas in Guatemala
To cope with logging and illegal logging, and the obstruction of access to water sources by the owners of haciendas in Montaña Las Granadillas, located in the province of Zacapa, Guatemala, the rural population affected created the Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG) in 2003. Although dialogue had developed between the local population and high-level authorities of the executive branch, logging continues in Montaña, endangering the watershed’s capacity and, therefore, the local people’s food sovereignty and future food supply.
Conceptual Model

Intermediary Mechanisms

The deforestation practices of the hacienda owners are endangering the watershed’s capacity and, therefore, the food sovereignty and future food supply of nearby communities. Affected communities argue that Montaña Las Granadillas is the main and only water source for the local population.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

To cope with these issues, the local population has united and has demanded action from the government to protect the La Montaña. They have also attempted to block the way of legal and illegal logging trucks.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversEconomic developments lead to changes in land use.Freshwater becomes scarce as an essential resource. Changes in land use reduce available/usable land.Changes in land use reduce available/usable freshwater.Land scarcity hampers agricultural production.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources leads to distributive conflicts between societal groups.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources provokes discontent with the state.A broad concept to cover economic growth in general but also specific economic changes or changes of incentives.Economic DevelopmentA change in the usage of environmentally relevant land.Land Use ChangeAn increase in the scarcity of clean water and/or an increased variability in water supply.Increased Water ScarcityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural ResourcesReduced availability of/ access to land.Increased Land ScarcityNon-violent or violent tensions and conflicts between different societal groups.Grievances between Societal GroupsChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances
Context Factors
Conflict History

The Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG)
In 2003, the Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG) was created, comprising people from the communities nearby Montaña Las Granadillas, to address diverse problems, such as legal and illegal logging, the use of large private land areas for livestock and monocrops, deforestation and obstruction of access to water sources, among others. Their actions are geared to protect water sources in Montaña Las Granadillas, since they argue that Montaña Las Granadillas is the main and actually only water source for the local population.

APMG's alliances and actions
Since the beginning, APMG has been backed by the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILUGUA), and works in alliance with diverse organizations and collectives of the region, taking such actions and initiatives as lawsuits, protests and field visits. As a part of its actions, APMG has blocked the way to prevent legal and illegal logging trucks, and some of its members have been sued for their work to protect La Montaña. In November 2009, the Memorandum of Commitment by Council No. 19 was signed by the authorities and the local population. This commitment contained protection of natural ecosystems for Montaña Las Granadillas, providing for the necessary studies regarding forestry licenses granted previously, to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and biodiversity in Montaña Las Granadillas.

APMG members criminalization
Over time, there has been dialogue among the parties involved in the conflict, including public authorities and private stakeholders, to promote the defense of economic, social and cultural rights in Zacapa and in the region. However, starting in 2010, members of APMG have been threatened and criminalized, with legal accusations and police arrests (GAM, 2011; PBI, 2013). For instance, in early 2010 some members of APMG were sued for their work to protect La Montaña, especially blocking highways. APMG has explained that these accusations are untruthful and baseless and called for them to be corrected.

Human rights protection in question
On 24th of October 2011, at APMG’s request, a thematic hearing with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC) led the IHRC to issue recommendations for the Guatemalan Government, such as, for example, to declare the area as a Sprint Water Protection Reserve to guarantee the inhabitants’ human right to water. Further, they recommended for the Government of Guatemala to ensure the security, safety and protection of human rights for the communities defending and protecting Montaña Las Granadillas and prohibit clear-cutting, in order to preserve water sources. At the same time, in 2011 a hearing with the Criminal-law Court of Zacapa was held against eight human rights advocates who are defending Montaña Las Granadillas (GAM, 2011).

Resolution Efforts

The APMG was created as a peaceful civil-society movement resulting from deforestation of Montaña Las Granadillas and its impacts on the region’s water resources, and enforcing the human right to water and protesting and appealing to international human rights agencies. Conflict resolution modes have therefore been primarily political and legal. There have been attempts at dialogue between the local population and authorities that have reached no agreements. In 2010, the situation got worse when local residents were threatened through the local media (PBI, 2013). Against this background, the conflict remains alive.

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
Intensities
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Fatalities
0
Violent Conflict No
Salience within nation National
Mass Displacement None
Cross Border Mass Displacement No
Resources
Biodiversity, Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water, Forests
Resolution Success
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future There is no increased capacity to address grievances in the future.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been completely ignored.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity There has been no reduction in intensity
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political


Actors
Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG)
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILUGUA)
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Guatemalan Government
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Criminal-law Court of Zacapa
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
2 Dialogue Over time, there has been dialogue among the parties involved in the conflict, including public authorities and private stakeholders, to promote the defense of economic, social and cultural rights in the region. However, these dialogues have reached no agreements.
2 Mediation & arbitration At APGM’s request a thematic hearing with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC) was held. The IHRC recommended for the Guatemalan Government to ensure the security, safety and protection of human rights for the communities defending and protecting Montaña Las Granadillas and prohibit clear-cutting, in order to preserve water sources.
3 Treaty/agreement In 2009, authorities and the local population signed a memorandum for the protection of natural ecosystems, and to provide the necessary studies regarding forestry licenses granted previously, to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and biodiversity in Montaña Las Granadillas.
2 Promoting social change In 2003, local communities created the Association to Protect Montaña Las Granadillas (APMG) to cope with the deforestation of the mountain and its impacts on the region’s water resources. The civil-society movement has been backed by the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (ILUGUA), and works in alliance with diverse organizations and collectives of the region.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Public good: No one can be excluded from use and the good is not depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Asymmetric: The power to affect the environmental resource is unequal.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
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