World Rainforest Movement

River in Guatemala “grabbed” by oil palm and sugar cane plantation owners

In Champerico, Guatemala, the Bolas River had completely disappeared, after it was diverted and dammed to provide water for oil palm and sugar cane plantations.

The loss of the river, which normally flows into the wetlands and mangrove forests of Champerico, severely affected the ecosystems and communities in the area. The communities fought back by protesting this “grabbing” of the river and creating a committee to look into the problem.

On April 9, community representatives of Champerico and local authorities determined the location where the Bolas River had been diverted: a dam had been constructed on the La Finca estate, where there are oil palm and sugar cane plantations. The committee proceeded to open part of the dam to release the river water.

The communities succeeded in returning the river to its natural course.

Reported by Carlos Salvatierra, secretary of Redmanglar Internacional, email <>