PBI-Guatemala visits the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya camp in opposition to mine once owned by Canadian company

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo of previous visit by PBI-Guatemala to the La Puya camp in October 2019.

On January 18, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project released its monthly information package for December 2020.

PBI-Guatemala notes: “As with previous months, we have maintained telephone contact with the members of the Peaceful Resistance La Puya, who continue their sit-in and are monitoring the arbitration process between the company and the state. On December 4, we visited the camp and were able to get an update on their experiences during this pandemic year and their expectations for the coming months.”

In March 2012 residents from San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc – an area known as La Puya, just north of Guatemala City – set up a 24-hour a day blockade at the entrance of the Vancouver-based Radius Gold Inc. El Tambor mine.

By August 2012, the Canadian company sold El Tambor to US-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, but retained an economic interest in the mine (including quarterly royalty payments on the gold production from the mine).

On May 23, 2014, after two years of peaceful struggle, the communities in resistance to the mine were violently evicted; at least 20 people were injured and 7 were taken to the hospital. PBI-Guatemala was present and witnessed that assault.

Even after that eviction and machinery was escorted onto the mine site, members of La Puya have continued a 24-hour presence in opposition to the project.

By February 2016, the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya won a Guatemalan Supreme Court ruling that provisionally suspended the mining licence because there had not been prior consultation with affected communities, as is required under Guatemalan and international law, in particular the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169.

In response, Kappes, Cassiday & Associates filed a claim with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a World Bank arbitration mechanism, claiming its investor rights under the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (that includes the United States, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic) had been violated.

As the Peaceful Resistance approaches the 9th anniversary of their camp outside the mine site, the arbitration process at the World Bank continues.

The monthly information packages from PBI-Guatemala can be found here.

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya since November 2012. On the day of the eviction in May 2014, Peaceful Resistance member Yolanda Oquelí appealed to the police as a PBI-Guatemala volunteer observed the exchange.

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