PBI-Guatemala accompanies Ch’orti’ Ancestral Authority land defender Felipe Diaz Ramos at first statement court hearing
On January 10, PBI-Guatemala posted: “PBI accompanied the hearing of the first statement of the ancestral authority of Olopa Felipe Diaz Ramos, detained this morning and charged with illegal detention.”
Prensa Comunitaria has explained: “He is a defender of the land and currently resists the illegal operations of the mining company Cantera Los Manantiales.”
FGER adds: “For his work in defense of the rights of the Ch’orti’ communities, the owner of the mining company filed a complaint in 2019 which resulted in the capture of Díaz Ramos on January 9. The spokesman of the indigenous community of Olopa, Ubaldino García, points out that this detention is part of criminalization, persecution and intimidation actions against people who defend the rights of Mother Earth.”
In 2015, the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines granted a 30-year mining licence to Cantera Los Manantiales to mine in the area about 200 kilometres east of Guatemala City without consulting the Ch’orti‘ communities of Olopa.
In 2016, twenty-two leaders who engaged in nonviolent protest were criminalized.
In November 2018, Ch’orti’ environmental activist Elizandro Perez, who led a local resistance against the mining company, was found dead in his home.
In February 2019, a peaceful blockade of the mine site was established given this violation of Indigenous rights and pollution of local water sources.
In March 2019, a group of armed men assaulted Ch’orti’ resisters participating in the rotating 24/7 blockade known as a “resistance point.”
In November 2019, the Supreme Court of Justice “provisionally suspended” the mine pending consultation with affected Indigenous communities.
In June 2020, traditional authority and mine opponent Medardo Alonzo Lucero was murdered.
In August 2020, the home of Ch’orti’ defender Ubaldino García Canan, an interlocutor of the Maya Ch’orti’ Indigenous Council of Olopa, was broken into and documents were stolen.
In December 2021, Mongabay reported: “[After the court ruling] the resulting government-led consultation process consists of information and dialogue, without the possibility of respecting the community’s potential refusal to consent to mining.”
That article adds: “More than 20 local Maya Ch’orti’ community leaders and residents faced criminal charges related to their protest activities.”
According to the police, the arrest of Felipe Díaz Ramos on January 9, 2022, related to a court order issued on August 19, 2021.
PBI-Guatemala began accompanying the Maya Ch’orti’ Indigenous Authorities of Olopa and Quezaltepeque in June 2021.
PBI-Guatemala at courthouse for first statement hearing, January 10, 2022.