The communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have been in peaceful resistance to a mining project in their communities. Here, the Committee of Campesino Unity (CUC) interviews Yoli Oqueli, who was brutally attacked on June 13. A partial transcript in English is included below.
“San José del Golfo says no to mining and denounces threats and violation of its freedom of movement”
The reason for our protest is that since 2007, the mine we can see here in the background has been in place, and work started in an underground well to take samples in order to see the minerals and the potential that was here. Two months ago we positioned ourselves here to start a peaceful fight – a completely peaceful resistance; we’ve been here now for two months and four days. In that time we’ve received a lot of provocation from the mining company, and unfortunately the majority of people who came with the arrogance to provoke us, and even assaulted women, are retired coronels. They’ve contracted these military personnel to find a way to cause anxiety – people get scared when they hear that they’re from the military. But we believe in peaceful protests and everything we’ve been able to maintain here.
But just today, beginning at 1am, community leaders who live at the entrance to the town began to call us to inform us that many trucks were entering the area. There were people who counted between 28 and 30 trucks that came with material to construct the waste water tank and said that they had to begin right away. There were patrol cars that came as well, excessively – we counted and think that there were between 45 and 50 patrol cars. When my mom called me she told me that her house was completely surrounded by police, because one of the people who works with the mine is her neighbor and she indicated to the police that that was my parents’ house. We came to the house quickly – they made note of what our cars looked like too – and when we got there it was difficult for us to get permission to enter, to be able to drop off my children and to continue on by foot.
But the surprising thing is that there were also two vans of riot police, so they didn’t want to even let us pass on foot. They said to let the patrol cars cross and closed all the roads that have access to here, to where we’re protesting. We believe that what they’re looking for, in some way, is for there to be a confrontation here so that a state of siege can be established. We’ve come to understand that even though we’re acting within the law, the law does not favor us. But I think that in some way we will be able to maintain this peaceful situation, we pray to God, and we’re demanding that there be a community consultation, because a consultation never happened here.
4:30 And we asked them why, if we have freedom of movement, they were blocking the way – if there was a court order or something that said that we couldn’t enter. And they didn’t show us anything, they didn’t say anything, just that it was an order from the Interior Ministry.
5:25 “The Deputy Mayor of San Pedro Ayampuc clarifies that no municipal agreement exists that supports mining exploitation in the community.”
6:15 The company is called Exmingua and it is Project 7. Selvin Morales is the general manager of the company, and before, when they applied for a mining license, he was the director of mining.
“The communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc demand an end to work at the Proyecto 7 mine directed by the company Exmingua.”
You can take action to support Yoli and her community by signing GHRC’s petition.