Guatemala News Update: May 26-30

New mining equipment arrives at La Puya amid calls for dialogue

After the violent removal of protesters by police last Friday, May 23, new mining equipment has been brought into the site of the El Tambor mining project. On Saturday, protesters from the peaceful resistance of La Puya regrouped near their original position and a mass was held on Sunday to pray for those injured in the eviction. Photos of the eviction and march in solidarity with the movement can be found here.

Archbishop Óscar Vian deplored the absence of real dialogue regarding
mining and energy projects and called for the government to stop approving
projects before entering into the dialogue process with communities.

GHRC Executive Director Kelsey Alford-Jones was quoted in an article about the non-violent resistance at La Puya. Government officials have equated leaders of the resistance with criminals and terrorists, which Alford-Jones points out is reestablishing the “idea of the internal enemy” that was so present during the internal armed conflict.

Pending the investigation of their cases, a judge ordered the house arrest of four community leaders from La Puya who have been active in the peaceful resistance movement against the El Tambor mining project. The four community leaders, who have been accused of illegally detaining and threatening four mining workers from El Tambor in 2012, are scheduled to stand trial August 18th. The judge dismissed the case against a fifth leader of the peaceful resistance movement, Yolanda Oquelí, on the grounds of lack of evidence. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: May 19-23

Violent Eviction at La Puya

On Friday, after more than two years of non-violent resistance against a gold mine, the communities in resistance of “La Puya” were evicted from their blockade at the entrance to the mine. Police arrived early in the morning to escort mining company trucks and heavy machinery. By the afternoon, hundreds of police — including many in full riot gear — moved in on the protesters with tear gas and flash bombs, beating those who refused to move. Over 20 people were injured.

Just days before, attempts at negotiation were made, but ultimately stalled when the government refused to allow the negotiations to be recorded. The Vice-Minister of the Interior insinuated that the government had agreed to accompany the mine equipment because the dialogue was effectively “broken.” Community members at La Puya reiterate that they want to complete the negotiation process with the government, but with transparency.

Although machinery was successfully brought into the mine, those at the Puya have already stated they are committed to continue their resistance. GHRC will continue to monitor the situation and support communities’ rights. Continue reading