In a recent question asked to mark International Women’s Day in the House of Lords Guatemala was mentioned a couple of times.
Baroness Thomas of Walliswood commented that it seemed to her that women are often more willing than men to stand
up and protest when they see their environment damaged by mining activities. She mentioned Ecuador, Peru and
Guatemala explicitly – these were the countries which were highlighted by a recent tour organised by the Latin American
Mining Monitoring Project, LAMMP, so it looks their message is getting through. In the tour report you can read in
more detail about the sort of "nasty penalties" that the Baroness alludes to.
Mining continues to meet resistance in the overwhelminghly indigenous communities that it affects. In Jutiapa the
small hamlets near another gold mine to be run by another subsidiary of GoldCorp are worried about the security of
their water supply. The security and safety of water is mentioned in the Lords debate and is a key issue in the Marlin mine, where
an independent environmental impact found that there would not be enough of it to go around once the mine started operating. In this case the mine is near the Salvadoran
border and there is as much concern in the neighbouring country as in Guatemala.
Almost all the
municipalities in Huehuetenango have now organised community consultations to reject mining. Perhaps they will
also be on the sharp end of the sort of "nasty penalties" we have seen elsewhere, or even a ‘state of emergency’ which
certain business groups feel would be useful. It would certainly stop them organising community consultations.