PBI-Guatemala expresses concern about threats received by Olopa resistance to mine

Published by Brent Patterson on

On March 30, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “We express our concern about various threats that the colleagues of the Olopa resistance shared with us in the last days in the face of the mining project Cantera Los Manantiales.”

A peaceful blockade of the mine site was established in February 2019 because of concerns that the mine violated the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent and that its operations were polluting local water sources.

Prensa Comunitaria has reported that the mine was “provisionally suspended” in late November 2019 by the Supreme Court of Justice because the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines had granted a 30-year mining licence to the company in 2015, without consultation with the Ch’orti‘ Indigenous communities of Olopa.

Nuevo Dia, which is accompanied by PBI-Guatemala, says that the mine “illegally extracts antimony, contaminating water, cutting down forests, causing strange diseases that especially affect children and removing tranquility, the peace and joy of the communities.”

And it notes, “Leaders and authorities have suffered criminalization, persecution, slander and defamation for opposing the company ‘Cantera Los Manantiales’.”

RIO Medios Independientes adds, “The direct concern is about the pollution of the Jupilingo River, as well as the appearance of skin diseases of children and elderly people.” The Belizean newspaper Amandala has reported that locals opposed to the mine say that it is also polluting the Zacapa River.

In November 2018, Telesur reported, “The Indigenous Maya Ch’orti’ environmental activist Elizandro Perez, who led a local resistance against a mining company in his community, was found dead Wednesday morning in his home.”

“Perez, 36, was head of the Indigenous Maya Ch’orti’ Council, a member of the Nuevo Dia [New Day] Central Indigenous Campesino Ch’orti’ organization, and one of the most visible faces of the legal battle against Cantera Los Manantiales, an antimony mine just 400 meters away from his house in Olopa, Chiquimula, eastern Guatemala.”

“He had received death threats since 2016, but these increased during November, so he decided to file a complaint at the Public Ministry. The community and the activist reported that the legal battle had intensified in the days leading up to Perez’s murder, and they held the company responsible for anything that happened to them.”

To watch a 5-minute video about the struggle against the mine, please click here.

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