CAO Cases

Arne Hoel, The World Bank

Latin America & the Caribbean

Guatemala / CIFI-01/Santa Cruz

Local residents of Santa Cruz
Date Filed
July 15, 2015
Community health & safety, information disclosure & consultation, indigenous people, cultural heritage
Case Status
Open - Compliance



Corporación Interamericana para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura (CIFI) was established in 2001 as a non-banking financial institution to provide financing to small and medium infrastructure projects across Latin America and the Caribbean. IFC's project consists of the implementation of CIFI’s business plan, including expected asset growth and operational consolidation, as well as potential access to long-term funding through international capital markets. Through its portfolio, CIFI made an investment in Hidro Santa Cruz for the Canbalam hydropower project located in Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango, Guatemala.  


In July 2015, a group of community representatives filed a complaint on behalf of themselves and other community members in Santa Cruz Barillas, alleging that the Canbalam project was never properly consulted with the indigenous communities and that community members’ opposition to the project has been met with violence and repression on the part of the company and the government. The complainants further allege that a worker from the security company hired by the project was involved in the murder of a community member in May 2012; the violence that erupted in the community led the government to declare a state of emergency, which led to police and military mobilization and the detainment and imprisonment of community members. The complainants also contend that the project will have an impact on water resources that they consider of significant cultural and recreational value. They also state that the land acquisition process was not transparent.


CAO Action

CAO found the complaint eligible for further assessment in August 2015 and an assessment visit was conducted in October 2015. During the assessment, the company expressed its willingness to participate in a dispute resolution process convened by CAO, however, the complainants felt that it was not worth initiating a new dialogue process with the project operator in light of the violent events and damages suffered. In accordance with CAO’s Operational Guidelines, the case was referred to CAO’s compliance function.

CAO released a compliance appraisal report in August 2016. The compliance appraisal has concluded that an investigation is warranted in response to this complaint.



In November 2018, CAO finalized its investigation report of IFC’s investment in CIFI. As per CAO’s Operational Guidelines, IFC management has 20 working days to submit a response to the investigation report. Thereafter, CAO’s report and IFC’s response are sent to the President’s Office for clearance.



Status as of April 03, 2019

Project information

Project Name & Number
CIFI 26031
Global Financial Markets
Corporacion Interamericana para el Financiamiento
Latin America & the Caribbean
Environmental Category
$20 million A loan & $10 million equity investment

Case Tracker


  • Eligible: Completed
  • Assessment Period: Transferred


  • Under Appraisal: Completed
  • Under Audit: In Process