PBI-Guatemala accompanies six defenders of Maya Ch’orti’ ancestral territory as judicialization process against them continues

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On June 10, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“PBI accompanies the 6 criminalized indigenous authorities of Olopa in their evidence presentation hearing. Contrary to what was decided in Monday’s [June] 6th hearing, another judge, who presided over the hearing, ruled that all 6 have to be present. The judge decided that on May 10, 2023, the oral and public debate will be opened to the six defenders of the territory, who for the time being have to continue signing the book at the Public Office every 15 days.”

Earlier that week, on June 6, PBI-Guatemala had posted: “PBI accompanies 6 criminalized defenders of Olopa in the intermediate phase hearing. The six are part of a legal process against 38 defenders of the territory and members of the Maya Ch’orti’ Indigenous Authorities of Olopa and Quezaltepeque accused by workers of a company of having illegally detained them. The judge ruled that these workers cannot become plaintiffs in the case. In addition, he agreed that the defendants can be represented by their lawyers at the next hearing so as not to miss work. The hearing to offer evidence follows on Friday [June 10].”

Prensa Comunitaria also tweeted: “The members of the [Olopa Indigenous] Council are being criminalized by the mining company Cantera de los Manantiales.”

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.”

This past February, 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.”

PBI-Guatemala has also noted: “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.”

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

For more on this struggle, please see the Cultural Survival article: Murdered in Defense of Life: The Legacy of Ch’orti’ Human Rights Defender Medardo Alonzo Lucero.

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