PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Mayan Poqomam resistance to sand mining in Chinautla

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PBI-Guatemala has posted:

On Wednesday [March 6], #PBI accompanied the Multisectoral of Chinautla. We were present at their encampment where they meet every day to discuss the situation in the territory caused by the presence of sand mining companies.

We took the opportunity to meet with various local state entities to discuss the security situation of the Multisectoral.

The situation in Chinautla

This past January, Prensa Comunitaria reported:

Santa Cruz Chinautla and its authorities maintain a peaceful resistance against the La Primavera and Piedrinera San Luis sand mines, which have been operating illegally with expired licenses since 2022, and have not obtained an extension to operate.

These companies have maintained the industrial extraction that has generated environmental pollution of the river that bears the same name of the community (from where the potters extract the mud for their pottery crafts), where it has been reported that they discard construction material, garbage and earth, due to agreements between the municipality and some neighbors with transporters. In addition, roads have deteriorated due to the use of heavy transport, causing landslides and cracked homes.

In addition, recently, the National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conred) has reported that the extraction of white sand in the territory has caused landslides and several families in the community have lost fragments of their homes due to this.

PBI-Guatemala has also explained:

The region has been a sand mining area for decades, but it was in 1995 that large-scale sand extraction began with heavy machinery, an activity that had a strong social and environmental impact on the area. More than 2,000 people are being affected in different ways: earthworks, caused by machinery, which crack their houses; respiratory problems, due to dust kicked up by vehicles, suffered by people living closer to the road; Decrease in the quality of the area’s clay, a raw material used in handicrafts, the main economic activity of these communities.

In addition, this population is also affected by the pollution of the river, which comes from the garbage dump in zone 3 of the Capital City, this derives from a problem that increases in rainy seasons.

PBI-Canada visits, May 2023

Hope with the election of Arevalo?

On January 15, after the swearing in of the new Guatemalan president Bernardo Arevalo, El Faro quoted René Chacón, a Mayan Poqomam leader and second mayor of Santa Cruz Chinautla, who commented:

We hope that there will be democracy for all, development and benefit for the whole country. In Santa Cruz Chinautla there is a large exploitation of part of the sand mines that have been degrading our land. Seeing these things, we came together. And here is not only Chinautla, but all the villages… But we have to wait. Even [the last president Alejandro] Giammattei said he wasn’t going to be corrupt. And in the long run he was. We can’t trust anyone, just wait for their will.

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

Further reading: “Our community is forgotten.” Visit to the residents of Chinautla (PBI-Guatemala article).

Photo: PBI-Canada meets with the community, May 1, 2023.

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