PBI-Guatemala accompanies Indigenous authorities in Lelá Chancó and Lela Obraje impacted by Canadian megaprojects
On December 2, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on Facebook: “ PBI accompanies the Council of Indigenous Authorities of Lelá Chancó and Lela Obraje in Camotán, Chiquimula.”
In December 2020, PBI-Guatemala noted: “We continue to periodically monitor the serious risk situation faced by leaders Héctor Ovidio Vázquez and Pedro Esquivel, from the Lelá Chancó and Lelá Obraje communities.”
The communities have stated: “We belong to the Maya Ch’orti’ people, respectful of the life of all human beings and Mother Nature, we own our lands, forests and rivers, which we have cared for from generation to generation for hundreds of years.”
The small village of Lelá Chancó is located in one of the mountains that are situated on the banks of the Jupilingo River near the border with Honduras.
The article explained: “The two defenders [Héctor Ovidio Vázquez and Pedro Esquivel] are still targeted by multitude of defamations, intimidations and death threats in retaliation for their defense work of the territory in front of megaprojects.”
Those megaprojects include the El Porvenir mine (Camotán), the El Pato mine (Chiquimula) and the TRECSA project in San Juan la Ermita.
The El Plato mine was being developed by Vancouver-based Goldex Resources Corporation. The Goldex website highlights: “El Pato is situated in the emerging precious metals region of eastern Guatemala. Several major and junior resource companies are active there, including Tahoe Resource’s Escobal property.”
It also appears that the TRECSA transmission line received financing from Export Development Canada (EDC) in June 2016. EDC says: “EDC reviewed the Project in accordance with our Environmental and Social Review Directive, and EAS [environmental assessments] has determined that the Project has been designed in compliance with applicable host country environmental requirements and the IFC [World Bank Group International Finance Corporation] Performance Standards.”
Their article also noted: “In addition to their work to defend the territory, they are claiming the rights of their communities regarding the registration and recognition of indigenous authorities elected in community assembly.”
In April of this year, PBI-Guatemala reported: “We remain concerned about the security situation of community leaders from Lelá Chancó and Lelá Obraje (Camotán, Chiquimula), Héctor Ovidio Vázquez and Pedro Esquivel who are members of the New Day Chorti Campesino Central Coordinator (CCCND). Both continue to suffer reprisals for their work defending their territory against the presence of megaprojects.”
The dangers are real.
On July 20, 2020, Abel Raymundo, defender of the land and territory and Member II of the Community Council of Lelá Chancó was murdered.
We continue to follow this with concern.