PBI-USA and PBI-Guatemala with the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya in Washington, DC

Published by Brent Patterson on

Share This Page

On October 2, Peace Brigades International-USA tweeted, “Álvaro Sandoval, of the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya, and Irene Izquieta, advocacy officer for PBI Guatemala and PBI USA pounded the halls of Congress this week to talk about the state of siege, & US company Kappes Cassiday’s violations of rights of people near the mine.”

State of Siege

On September 7, Guatemala’s Congress approved a 30-day state of siege in the provinces of Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Peten, Zacapa and Baja Verapaz.

Reuters has reported, “The 30-day state of siege imposes a night-time curfew [and] gives the military new powers to arrest and interrogate suspects and prohibits organized protests in the targeted areas as well as some meetings, although it does not specify the number of people that can legally meet.”

And Aljazeera notes, “The measure sparked widespread condemnation from human rights and social groups. …Much of the affected region in eastern Guatemala is inhabited by indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ communities fighting for land rights and against nickel mining and oil palm plantations.”

Iduvina Hernandez, director of the Association for the Study and Promotion of Security in Democracy, says, “The magnitude allows them to militarise or remilitarise a region with a high level of conflict, where communities are opposed to extractive industry projects.”

Kappes, Cassiday & Associates

Residents from the communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc – an area known as La Puya – have been fighting against the Progreso VII Derivada-El Tambor mine located just north of Guatemala City since March 2010.

That mine is owned by Reno-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA).

The Peaceful Resistance of La Puya has stated, “[The environmental impact assessment] shows that the gold and silver are contained in arsenopyrite rock, which contains high levels of arsenic. Levels of arsenic in the water increased considerably during the time the mine was in operation.”

In July 2015, a Guatemalan court ruled in favour of La Puya, ordering EXMINGUA – the Guatemalan subsidiary of KCA – to suspend all activities at the mine until a community consultation was held. Then in February 2016, the Guatemalan Supreme Court ruled to provisionally suspend the mining licence due to a lack of prior consultation.

In December 2018, KCA filed a $300 million claim with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a World Bank arbitration mechanism.

The company cites community protests and unjust treatment by the state as a violation of the terms of the Free Trade Agreement between the Dominican Republic, Central America and the United States.

The El Tambor mine was previously owned by Vancouver-based Radius Gold.

The Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) has highlighted, “Although Radius Gold sold its shares in the local Guatemalan subsidiary Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala S.A. (EXMINGUA) to KCA in August 2012, it retains an economic interest in the mine.”

NISGUA notes, “The company’s 2013 audited financial statements state that three quarters of the cost of the sale transaction will be paid to Radius once gold shipments commence from the property and that Radius also anticipates quarterly payments from KCA based on gold production.”

PBI-Guatemala began providing accompaniment to the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya in November 2012.

Share This Page
Categories: News Updates


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *