PBI-Guatemala notes Mayan lawyers’ article about unauthorized work at the Cantera Los Manantiales mine during the pandemic
On May 3, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted an article of concern on its Facebook page titled Mining harassment grows in Olopa Chiquimula, amid the Covid-19 health crisis.
The article is from the Association of Mayan Lawyers and Notaries of Guatemala website. They are “a community of professional Mayan men and women, united to defend, advise and promote the rights of indigenous peoples in Guatemala.”
The article notes, “On Monday, April 27, the Ch’orti ‘Indigenous Council of Olopa presented a memorial to the Municipality of Olopa, to denounce works that are carried out on the site of the Cantera Los Manantiales mining company.”
Since the COVID-19 containment measures began in Guatemala “company personnel carry out activities within the mine site, violating current decrees and the suspensions ordered by the provisional protection.”
“In the memorial, the communities also denounced that the COCODE of the El Carrizal community carries out work on the road that leads to the mine, without respecting the act signed in a community assembly, which agrees to close the road until there is a final resolution of the constitutional action.”
The article also notes, “They add to the document that they have been intimidated by people who come to watch houses of community authorities, when the curfew decreed by the central government begins.”
A peaceful blockade of the Cantera Los Manantiales 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.
To watch a 5-minute video produced by PBI-Guatemala (and released this past February) about the struggle against the mine, please click here.
Top photo by Norma Sancir/ The Association of Mayan Lawyers and Notaries of Guatemala. Below photo, PBI-Guatemala at the 1-year anniversary of the blockade of the mine site on February 26, 2020.