PBI-Guatemala accompanies Peaceful Resistance of La Puya at 10th anniversary of blockade against gold mine

Published by Brent Patterson on

On Sunday March 6, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Today PBI accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya in commemoration of its 10th anniversary.”

As can be seen in this Twitter video, there was a celebratory feel to the anniversary.

This video clip also gives a sense of the gathering.

On March 3, PBI-Guatemala also posted: “We talked with representatives of the Puya on its 10th anniversary.” The video of that interview can be watched here.

TIMELINE OF THE RESISTANCE

On March 2, 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 also known as the Progreso VII Derivada mine.

By August 2012, the Canadian company sold El Tambor to US-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, but retained an economic interest in the mine (including quarterly royalty payments on the gold production from the mine).

On May 23, 2014, after two years of peaceful struggle, the communities in resistance to the mine were violently evicted by the police.

(Two PBI-Guatemala volunteers who witnessed the May 2014 eviction were informed by the Guatemalan government of the cancellation of their temporary residence in the country, although the executive eventually reversed the decision.)

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.

Even after their eviction in 2014 and the court ruling in 2016, members of La Puya continued a 24-hour presence in opposition to the mine.

Then in December 2018, Kappes, Cassiday & Associates filed a $300 million claim with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank arbitration mechanism, claiming its investor rights under the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) had been violated.

On May 21, 2021, the court suspension on the mine imposed in 2016 was lifted, but authorization for the mine to begin operation has not been granted. The police were present at the site to enforce the court ruling, while the Resistance reaffirmed its commitment to the peaceful fight for the defence of life, natural property and territory.

On June 21, 2021, according to the World Bank ICSID website, “The Tribunal [hearing the claim] issued Procedural Order No. 7 concerning confidentiality matters.” PBI-Guatemala has previously noted: “The Peaceful Resistance is forming legal alliances and solidarity across national and international organizations and groups [to] make their voices heard in this exclusionary procedure.”

On July 16, 2021, PBI-Guatemala accompanied the Resistance at the site of the blockade/sit-in for a dialogue with state institutions in the framework of international arbitration process driven by the company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates.

On January 13, 2022, PBI-Guatemala accompanied the Peaceful Resistance of San Pedro Ayampuc and introduced themselves to the municipal authorities.

We continue to follow this situation closely.

The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has accompanied the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya since November 2012.

“Between religious celebrations, parades, music, murals and various expressions of art, the Peaceful Resistance La Puya commemorated 10 years of Peaceful Resistance for the defense of life and water against the imposition of the mining project ‘Progress VII Derivada’.”


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