PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya in their struggle against the El Tambor gold mine

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On April 30, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted: “Today, PBI accompanied the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya.”

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.

Communities have opposed the mine from the time they learned of the concession in 2011, raising concerns about the lack of consultation, violation of Indigenous peoples’ rights, and the detrimental health and environmental impacts of the mine.

The Canadian company sold its interest in the El Tambor mine to US-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates in August 2012 for deferred cash payments and a royalty interest in the mine’s gold production.

Then 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 and Guatemala) had been violated.

That arbitration process at the World Bank continues.

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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