Driving actions in the Coatán and Suchiate basins (Guatemala and Mexico) to establish governance processes

23 October 2013 | News story

  • By: Jerónimo Navarro (Ixchiguán, GT), Reynaldo Escalante (Tacaná, GT), Henry Galdámez (San Pablo, GT), Baldemar Zacarías (Cacahoatán, MX), Antonio Hernández (Cacahoatán, MX), Yolanda Pérez (Cacahoatán, MX), Victor Rodas (UICN)
  • Guatemala-Mexico, September 2013

During the January-September period, champions have carried out a range of actions in the Coatán y Suchiate river basins shared between Guatemala and Mexico.

Walk for Mother Nature

The “Walk for Mother Nature” held this past June in the municipality of Ixchiguán (head town of the Coatán, Suchiate and Cuilco river basins), in San Marcos, Guatemala, displayed the interest and determination of these and other communities in municipalities of the San Marcos highland, such as Tacaná, Sibinal and San José Ojetenam, to protect natural resources (mainly water) and push for land use planning based on a watershed and microwatershed approach. More than 25,000 children and adults participated in the walk. The activity was replicated in the municipalities of San José Ojetenam and Concepción Tutuapa.

Advocacy for Signature of the Municipal Agreement

In the Tacaná municipality (located in the Coatán and Cuilco river basins of San Marcos, Guatemala), signature was promoted of a municipal agreement recognizing that 10% of the water quota (tariff) users pay for the service would be used for conservation and management of water recharge zones. Separation of solid waste in the municipality is also promoted.

Clean-up of Zapote River

One of the activities fostered by the City Council of Cacahoatán (in the Coatán and Cahoacán watersheds, Chiapas, Mexico), is cleaning up the Zapote River, formerly used as a clandestine garbage dump. Importantly, clean-ups will occur every five months from now on.

Identification of Solid Waste Problems in the Chapal and Negro Rivers

In the municipality of San Pablo (Suchiate river basin, San Marcos, Guatemala), a study was promoted to identify waste-related problems in Aldea El Porvenir, crossed by the Chapal and Negro rivers. The study was made by the SARB company (Saneamiento Ambiental y Recolección de Basura). Based on the results, in November 2013 construction will begin on a technically-managed sanitary landfill that will benefit residents of El Porvenir and the municipal seat of San Pablo.

Strengthening of the Cacahoatán Farmers Market “Tianguis Campesino”

With the support of the Cacahoatán City Council, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), strengthening continues of the Cacahoatán farmers market organized to trade the vegetables, flowers, fruit and processed foods of producers in the municipality’s communities, as well as tackle the effects of climate change through good practices and promotion of organic and natural agriculture. Sixty-nine producers now participate in the market held each Sunday in Cacahoatán Central Park.

Fostering a Solid Waste Clean-up, Collection and Classification Culture in Cacahoatán

In the municipality of Cacahoatán, Chiapas, Mexico, the focus of the “Beautify Your Neighborhood” project is to create and foster a culture of clean-up, collection and classification of garbage. Every month waste is picked up in the ejidos of La Azteca and El Águila (in Cacahoatán), with monitoring of the respective collection centers. In addition, a clean-up of the road between the El Águila and El Progreso ejidos was promoted.

Creation of the Sector Coordination Entity

Champions of the Coatán river basin in Guatemala have participated in the formation of a sector coordination entity created to assess the environmental situation of municipalities in the highland of San Marcos, Guatemala, not allow mining presence in the zone and create a forum for analyses of particular short-term situations. The entity brings together community leaders, civil society in the form of the “Pastoral Social Council of Peoples,” and environmental councils in the municipalities of Tacaná, Ixchiguán, San José Ojetenam, Sibinal, Concepción Tutauapa (San Marcos), Cuilco and Tectitán in the department of Huehuetenango.

Creation of the Tacaná Environmental Panel

The objective of the environmental panel of Tacaná municipality, San Marcos, created in January of this year and made up of all institutions working in environment, is to identify the municipality’s environmental problems, coordinate institutional presence and prioritize investment in environmental projects.
Currently participants include CARE, HELVETAS, IUCN, PAHO, FAO, UNDP, Fundación Solar, the Health Ministry, OMAS, OFM, DMP, OMMNA, MARN, MAGA and SEGEPLAN. Creation of the Municipal Agriculture Technical Unit (UTAM) is also being promoted to foster farming production in Tacaná communities.

Negotiation of Environmental Projects in Ejido La Azteca

As part of political influencing by champion Antonio Hernández, who heads the microwatershed committee of Buena Vista River, technical and financial resources have been arranged with the National Protected Areas Commission (CONANP) to implement a youth project related to coffee plant production in La Azteca ejido. In addition, support was obtained from the Chiapas Coffee Development and Promotion Commission (COMCAFE) in delivering 4,800 coffee plants of the Catimor variety to 16 ejido members as a means of tackling the coffee borer problem.

Monitoring of the Buena Vista Microwatershed Committee

The Microwatershed Committee of the Buena Vista River (in the Coatán river basin), which includes El Águila, La Azteca and El Progreso ejidos in the Cacahoatán municipality, has continued holding monthly meetings to discuss and analyze actions for comprehensive development in the communities. The committee has also promoted environmental awareness workshops for children and youth.

Implementation of the Anti-Coffee Borer Program

The Cacahoatán City Council has provided technical accompaniment for implementation of the project, “Strategic Rescue to Fight the Coffee Borer,” benefitting eight ejidos and more than 900 producers, and covering a total of 1900 ha (60% of the municipality’s coffee-growing area).

Presentation of Champions to the Sibinal Municipal Council

Champions of the Coatán river basin, Jéronimo Navarro and Reynaldo Escalante, and IUCN representative Victor Rodas gave a presentation on the champions initiative to the mayor and municipal corporation of Sibinal (located in the upper basin of Suchiate River, Guatemala). Their objective was to show activities the champions have promoted in the watersheds, their vision and challenges, and invite the Sibinal municipality to join this regional initiative.

Meetings of Coatán and Suchiate Watershed Champions

The champions have met three times during the January to September 2013 period. The first meeting was held on March 21, in the city of Cacahoatán, Chiapas, Mexico, and included the participation of champions from Guatemala and Mexico, the first trustee of the City Council of Cacahoatán, Chiapas, and the municipal mayors of Ixchiguán and Tacaná, in Guatemala. The champions of Guatemala and Mexico were presented at this meeting, along with the Declaration of San Pedro signed by Mesoamerican champions in February 2013, and the work challenges facing leaders in these basins.

The second meeting took place August 16th in Cacahoatán, Chiapas, with a presentation on activities promoted by the champions and the start of constructing the informational bulletin.

The last meeting on September 27, in the city of San Pablo, San Marcos, Guatemala, was held to validate the bulletin on champions’ activities and prepare logistics for the meeting between champions and municipal authorities of Guatemala and Mexico slated for November 2013. San Pablo’s municipal mayor participated in the meeting.


  • Achieve formation of the Binational Management Committee (bringing together champions + environmental commissions + municipal authorities + institutions + community leaders in the microwatershed committees).
  • Achieve greater political influencing in their native municipalities.


  • Presentation of the champions initiative to the municipal president of Unión Juárez, Chiapas, Mexico, October 2013
  • Meeting of champions of the Coatán and Suchiate river basins (Guatemala-Mexico), municipal presidents of Mexico and municipal mayors of Guatemala, November 22, 2013, in the municipality of Cacahoatán, Chiapas.

The Network of Champions in Transboundary Watersheds at the Mesoamerica level is a platform whose members are personally committed to working for long-term transboundary cooperation.


More information

• Antonio Hernández, champion in Mexico: 00 (521) 962 6992168
• Jerónimo Navarro, champion in Guatemala: jeronavarro930@yahoo.es; 00 (502) 5362 9282
• Victor Rodas, IUCN: victor.hugo.rodas@iucn.org ; 00(502) 5358 6542
• Nazareth Porras, IUCN. nazareth.porras@iucn.org ; 00(506) 2283 8449 ext. 224