PBI-Guatemala accompanies six Indigenous authorities at court hearing for their opposition to antimony mine

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On February 11, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted: “Today PBI accompanied the six criminalized indigenous authorities of Olopa during their hearing at the Chiquimula Criminal Court. The audience evaluates the request to be adhered as a prosecutor by Odilio Guzmán, family of the management of the Cantera de los Manantiales mine in the village of La Prensa, Olopa.”

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.

Prensa Comunitaria has reported: “The mining project is rejected by the population and various organizations that claim that the communities were never consulted about its installation and has caused serious damage to the environment.”

Earlier this month, Prensa Comunitaria tweeted a short video with the caption: “Jesús Méndez from the San Nicolás indigenous community of #Quezaltepeque, affirms that they accompany the 6 indigenous authorities of #Olopa accused by the Los Manantiales mining company because they are defending the land of their ancestors.”

Arrest of Felipe Díaz Ramos in January

On January 12, Prensa Comunitaria reported on the arrest of Felipe Díaz Ramos, Indigenous authority of the municipality of Olopa, Chiquimula.

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 [2022]. 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.”

Five defenders arrested in October

An October 2021 Prensa Comunitaria article about the arrest of five defenders – María Méndez, 53; Bernardino Perez, 65; John Augustine, 82; Santos Gerónimo Ramos Méndez, 28; and Rosa Margarita Pérez Canán, 23 – reports: “The arrest warrant issued by the judge … indicates that the capture was due to a complaint by Odilio de Jesús Guzmán Salazar and his son Rony Leonardo Guzmán, owner of the land where the mining company Cantera los Manantiales is located and husband of Guillermina Landaverri, owner of the mining company’s operating license.”

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

For more on this, please see: The Olopa Sit-Ins: “We are determined to keep fighting.”

On January 10, 2022, 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.”

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