PBI-Guatemala accompanies Poqomam resistance to sand extraction that impacts the environment and community

Published by Brent Patterson on

On July 18, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“PBI accompanies the Multisectoral Chinautla to the Dialogue Table between people belonging to the community, transporters of the La Primavera sand and the San Luis quarry and the PDH [Human Rights Ombudsman]. The St. Louis operation license expired on June 25 of this year, which is why the community is demanding a cessation of its activities in accordance with the law.”

Just a few days earlier, on July 15, PBI-Guatemala had also posted:

“Yesterday, PBI accompanied the multisectoral Chinautla in its resistance against the sand companies operating in the region and have left damage to the environment and the population.”

And on July 19, Con Criterio reported:

“The struggle of the Poqomam people of Santa Cruz, Chinautla, has been going on for decades. They have never received a response to their demands: to stop the extraction of sand that, according to them, destroys homes, hills and causes the migration of families to other municipalities to escape environmental degradation.

Chinautla is a municipality in Guatemala, located seven kilometers from the capital, it is estimated that 114,752 people live there. There, according to the records of the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEN), six mining companies operate with authorization to extract sand and other materials. The neighbors, however, assure that there are more companies that extract behind their backs or with the consent of the municipal authorities.

Over the weekend, the problem intensified when the drivers of the trucks that extract sand from the La Primavera and San Luis projects clashed with indigenous leaders and neighbors who were blocking the road. The PNC [National Civil Police] mediated between both groups.

Photo: The resistance of the Poqomam Mayan people of Chinautla, was installed on June 27 two days after the extraction license of Piedrinera San Luis had expired. Photo by Simón Antonio.

The mining companies in Chinautla and registered with the MEN are these 6: La Presa, Arenera del Pino, San Fernando, El Manguito, La Primavera and San Luis, which have operated in that locality since 1996 and 2005. All have licenses for the manufacture stone, select, mud extraction, white sand and river.

Peace Brigades International (PBI), an entity that accompanies the civilian population for the resolution of conflicts, revealed through this report on its electronic portal that the sand extraction projects in that municipality have caused alterations in the course of the rivers and riverbanks, as well as respiratory diseases. The community most affected by extractive activities, according to the brigades, is Santa Cruz, Chinautla, because of 150 families that lived 500 meters from the sand pits, only 20 remain, the rest migrated to other places.

According to PBI, during the administration of former mayor Arnoldo Medrano between (between 1988 and 2015) the industrial extraction process was authorized with machinery and trucks from the capital, without consulting the affected communities.”

The full article can be read in Spanish at “La arenera se llevó todo, ya no podemos vivir en Chinautla”.

The PBI-Guatemala Project has accompanied the Chinautla Multisector Urban Platform since December 2018.

Recent news articles on this situation include:

Serious damage portrays the illegal operation of mining companies in Chinautla (July 27)

Communities in Chinautla continue to resist sandpits (July 25)

Community members receive death threats from mining entrepreneur in Chinautla (July 22)

Chinautla communities suspend resistance, but do not stop the defense of the territory (July 20)

Two sand companies with expired licenses continue to operate in Chinautla (July 18)

In Chinautla sand companies do not have a license extension (July 11)

In Chinautla sand companies do not have a license extension (July 8)


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