PBI-Guatemala accompanies Maya Ch’orti’ Indigenous Authorities of Olopa in the defence of their territory against mining

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On November 11, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted:

“PBI accompanies the Council of Indigenous Authorities of Olopa during its meeting with the organizations Centre for Legal Action on Human Rights (CALDH) and Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of Guatemala (UDEFEGUA) in the context of criminalization that they face in the defense of the territory against mining activity.”

PBI-Guatemala has explained: “The Maya Ch’orti’ Indigenous Authorities of Olopa and Quezaltepeque are fighting for recognition as indigenous communities, the recovery of their spirituality, the defense of their territory and the right to free, prior and informed consultation before the entry of mining projects into their territory.”

“They also seek to minimize the negative impacts of mining activities on the health of the people in their communities, denounce illegal logging and fight against gender violence in their communities.”

“The communities of Olopa are confronting the company American Minerals S.A., which was granted a 25-year antimony extraction license in 2012, without prior consultation with the communities.”

“In 2016, when mining activities began, the communities became aware of the negative impacts of these activities on water and the environment and demanded the closure of the project.”

In November 2019, Prensa Comunitaria reported: “The company Cantera Los Manantiales, owned by Ovidio Guzmán, a well-known businessman in Esquipulas, has been operating for 7 years between the mountains of Olopa. Its activity has a direct impact on four communities: El Amatillo, Carrizal and La Prensa de Olopa and Carboneras de Chiquimula.”

“On July 9, 2021, the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) granted an injunction to these communities, recognizing their right to consultation, as provided for in Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), had been violated. The mining license has thus been suspended, which should result in the cessation of their work.”

PBI-Guatemala adds: “PBI began accompanying the Maya Ch’orti’ Indigenous Authorities of Olopa and Quezaltepeque in June 2021.”

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