Clashes over water linked to sugarcane, palm, and biofuels

September 9, 2018 |

In Guatemala, sugarcane and palm plantations for biofuels are blamed for clashes and “liberating rivers” efforts by the people affected by its production, according to Assistant Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of Regina, Simon Granovsky-Larsen. Granovsky-Larsen conducted research with the Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA), a Guatemalan peasant social movement organization that has supported the river liberation movement which is expanding due to the growing number of unauthorized dams, wells and irrigation motors being installed along 18 major rivers and tributaries for growing biofuel feedstock. Local residents are frustrated over water shortages, the increased use of water and dams that are leading to pollution, water access and land access issues, the diversion of river routes to the plantations, mechanically extracting river water and drilling deep wells that is draining publicly accessible water.

“Guatemala is the world’s fourth largest exporter of sugar, it follows only Indonesia and Malaysia for palm oil exports and the country is the largest Central American exporter of electricity,” said Granovsky-Larsen. “Biofuel production in Guatemala responds predominantly to European demand.”

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