PBI-Guatemala denounces the murder of Olopa defender Medardo Alonzo Lucero
On June 18, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted: “We repudiate the murder of Medardo Alonzo Lucero and express solidarity with his family and the communities of Olopa and Nuevo Dia.”
This PBI-Guatemala statement followed the Nuevo Dia post that Medardo had been found at dawn on June 15 with signs of torture and violence. Nuevo Dia then also expressed its solidarity with the indigenous community of La Cumbre (Olopa Chiquimula) and the Maya Ch’ortí’ Indigenous Council of Olopa.
Prensa Comunitaria described Medardo as a “defender of the territory and natural resources, who according to authorities of this community, was part of the organized and peaceful fight for a mining and hydroelectric free territory.”
PDH Guatemala, the Human Rights Ombudsman, further noted: “The indigenous authority of the community reported that the death is linked to the defense of the territory and the fight against mining.”
A peaceful blockade of the mining project Cantera Los Manantiales was established by the Olopa resistance in February 2019. The blockade was established 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 has stated 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 has noted: “Leaders and authorities have suffered criminalization, persecution, slander and defamation for opposing the company ‘Cantera Los Manantiales’.”
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.”
Just weeks ago, on March 30, PBI-Guatemala had also 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.”
PBI-Guatemala Project has accompanied Nuevo Dia since 2009.