Jun 12, 2013
Today, representatives of the communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc participated in a reunion called by the President of the Republic, Otto Pérez Molina. The meeting was scheduled for 10:30 in the Presidential House. The Minister of Energy and Mines, Erick Archila, the Interior Minister, Mauricio López Bonilla and representatives of the American company, Kappes, Cassiday and Associates also participated. Community members asked that the mining representatives leave, as the conversation was with the government, not the company.
The meeting with successful in the sense that the communities were able to share with the President their reasons for firmly maintaining their resistance to the mine.
Some of the communities’ concerns include:
In their municipalities, the presence of naturally occurring arsenic is eight times higher than international standards, and any mining will raise those levels further still.
The Environmental Impact Study presented by the mine had many problems. It even mentioned the possible displacement of communities, which is unacceptable. In addition, it doesn’t cover all of the risks that the mining activity could present to the health of the communities.
Currently, the municipalities are facing water shortages. They are on the edge of the dry corridor, and as an agricultural region, they depend on this resource.
There was no prior information or consultation with the communities, even though Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization requires the consultation of indigenous peoples about projects which will affect them.
The actions of the company toward the population have been disrespectful and illegal: verbal and written threats, flyers with slanderous messages, provocations, and aggression, etc. The subsidiary, Servicios Mineros de Centroamérica is facing judicial processes for threats made against journalists.
For his part, the President took into consideration the concerns put forth by the communities and proposed that a new environmental impact study be carried out. The topic has not been exhausted, and meetings between the government and the communities will continue.
Even though this is a positive step, the communities are clear that they still say NO to the mine. As one leader, Yolanda Oquelí said “You don’t negotiate with life, you defend it.” The resistance in La Puya continues.