CHIXOY INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTITUTION REPARATIONS ACT
ABOUT THE "CHIXOY DAM BILL"
The "Chixoy International Financial Institution Reparations Act of 2022" would require the United States to use its "voice, vote, and influence" within multilateral development institutions (MDIs) to encourage the creation of reparations mechanisms for victims adversely affected by internationally financed projects. Among its key provisions is the creation of an independent and transparent reparations fund at each institution that would support affected parties' full and effective participation in a reparations mechanism and would financially support the implementation of the reparations plan. In addition, the bill would require the United States to encourage broader reforms to current institutional practices and safeguards.
In the mid-1970s, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank financed the construction of the Chixoy Dam in Guatemala while the country was in the midst of a civil war and credibly accused of having committed gross human rights violations. The financiers failed to conduct basic due diligence, approving the loan although the Guatemalan State had not conducted a comprehensive census of affected peoples, nor had it legally acquired the land supporting the construction works, the dam, the reservoir, and the hydroelectric generation facility.
When construction was complete and reservoir waters rose in January 1983, military and civil patrols undertook the forced removal of the population at gunpoint. In one village alone – Río Negro – 444 of the 791 inhabitants were killed. By January 1983, ten communities in the Chixoy River Basin had been massacred: Río Negro, Los Encuentros, La Laguna, Agua Fría, Comalmapa, Jocotales, Chitucan, Los Mangales, Pacaal, and Hacienda Chitucan. More than a decade later, the Guatemalan Truth Commission (Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico – CEH) found that this state-sponsored violence constituted genocide.
In 1996 Witness for Peace joined the affected people’s calls for justice by publishing the report "A People Damned" which prompted the World Bank to investigate its complicity in the forced displacement and massacre of the communities affected by the Chixoy Dam. Despite 40 years of community struggle for reparation, directly affected peoples continue to live in extreme poverty as a result of their displacement and multilateral development institutions have continued to finance projects that have contributed to egregious human rights violations around the world.