PBI-Guatemala accompanies 12th anniversary of La Puya resistance that began against a Canadian mining company

Published by Brent Patterson on

Share This Page

PBI-Guatemala has posted: “Last Sunday [March 3], #PBI accompanied the anniversary of the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya, who celebrated with a mass and a party the twelve years of its resistance to the mining project El Tambor, Progreso VII derivative (gold and silver) and its defense of territory, water and life.”

Vancouver-based Radius Gold

This story 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 has 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.”

Violent eviction of blockade

On May 23, 2014, two PBI-Guatemala field volunteers witnessed 300+ riot police carry out the violent eviction of the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya blockade of the El Tambor mine.

Video of police attack.

Photo: Doña Licha shows a hematoma caused by a tear gas canister fired by riot police. (Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez).

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 now subject to a consultation process.

This civil society statement on the anniversary further highlights: “We celebrate La Puya’s twelfth year and your ongoing local organizing efforts in the Maya Kaqchikel and Xinka communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc. Such organizing is vital to sustain the long-term fight in defense of water, territory, health, identity, and respect for their self-determination. This struggle is critical to ensure that the illegal mining project Progreso VII Derivada does not restart and to halt future mining activity in this territory.”

KCA investor-state challenge

That statement also notes: “We remain attentive for the results of the unjust lawsuit filed by KCA against the State of Guatemala under the terms of the Free Trade Agreement between Central America, the Dominican Republic and the United States (CAFTA-DR) at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) for more than US$400 million.”

It adds: “The company filed the suit after the suspension of its mining project for lack of consultation with the affected indigenous population. The Guatemalan people should not have to pay a penny to KCA, which operated illegally, relied on violent repression against the peaceful resistance, and is now taking advantage of the neocolonial free trade framework to try to make millions.”

PBI-Canada visits La Puya

On Sunday May 7, 2023, PBI-Canada and PBI-Guatemala visited with Doña Licha and the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya at a roadside site that it has maintained at the entrance to the “El Tambor” Progreso VII Derivada gold mine.

We continue to follow this peaceful resistance.

Share This Page


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *