PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya and their ongoing struggle against extractivism

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On September 3, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“PBI accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya at their monthly mass. The Resistance is currently beginning the pre-consultation process to decide the future of mining extractivism in the region.”

On Sunday May 7, PBI-Canada and PBI-Guatemala visited with the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya at a roadside site that it has maintained for more than ten years at the entrance to the “El Tambor” Progreso VII Derivada gold mine.

A mass took place while we were there too.

Notably, this story of 10 years of resistance begins with Radius Gold (whose office is at Suite 650, 200 Burrard Street in Vancouver, British Columbia) securing an exploitation licence from the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines in 2011.

On March 2, 2012, area residents, who had not been consulted about this mine, set up a 24-hour a day blockade at the entrance to the mine site. Within weeks, on May 8, 2012, the women of the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya laid on the ground, sang and prayed to stop bulldozers from entering the mine.

Doña Licha, who we met when there this past May, has previously commented: “In 2012, when we saw the machines arriving at the mine and after being informed of the contamination of the water it was going to generate, we blocked the way.”

A few months later, in August 2012, Radius Gold sold the mine to KCA. Significantly though, the Canadian company retained an economic interest in the mine, including quarterly royalty payments on the gold production from the mine.

More specifically, Radius Gold noted in its first quarter Financial Review in 2015: “KCA agreed to repay approximately US$400,000 owing to the Company (US$100,000 paid upon signing and approximately US$300,000 to be paid once KCA has commenced shipment of gold produced from the property). Also, upon commercial production, KCA agreed to make quarterly payments to the Company based on the then price of gold and the number of ounces produced from the property.”

Shortly after the sale, then-Radius Gold president Ralph Rushton told La Hora: “Radius continues to feel optimistic that commercial production will be achieved at El Tambor and the company will be paid back for the investment it has made in the region since the discovery of gold in El Tambor in 2000.”

In February 2016, the Peaceful Resistance won a Guatemalan Supreme Court ruling to provisionally suspend the mine. By that point, the mine had operated for almost two years. On May 21, 2021, the court lifted that suspension, but the authorization for the mine to begin operation has not yet been granted.

That authorization is subject to a consultation process (as noted in the PBI-Guatemala post, it’s now in the pre-consultation stage).

For more on our visit to Guatemala, please see Photo-journal of PBI-Canada visit with PBI-Guatemala accompanied organizations, defenders and communities.

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