State violence used against non-violent resistance at La Puya

News has come from Guatemala that the Comunidad en Resistencia in La Puya was violently evicted over the weekend in order to make way for mining machinery to enter the mine site. The mine is owned by the US firm Kappes, Cassiday and Associates (KCA) and they seem bent on opening the mine and destroying the livelihoods of so many people in the communities – the environmental consequences of gold extraction is well documented.

James Rodríguez (MiMundo) has followed up his life affirming photoreportage of the celebrations on the 2nd anniversary of the Comunidad en Resistencia with this very moving account of the eviction (of which the above photograph is a part).

Reflective of a particular grouping in Guatemala, an Opinon piece in the Prensa Libre found itself concerned with the image of the country as seen from overseas rather than the people who were being denied their humanity. This is the same concern that was shown by CACIF when discussing the genocide verdict – how Guatemala is seen from abroad. Their concern was not for the victims but for themselves.

The piece also went on to say that more needs to be done to explain about the mine, not only to the affected inhabitants but rather to all Guatemalans. This is a typically dismissive view of all those Guatemalans who do not belong to the elite class. Why do they not instead ask for an explanation of why the mine should be allowed over the wishes of the communities and of all Guatemalans? Why was authorisation granted? What are they so afraid of?

Further hypocrisy was contained in the piece when outrage was shown over (so-called) foreign troublemakers among the resistance. The ironic thing, of course, is that trouble for La Puya came about because of foreign interests and not the interests of the people themselves. Just as the piece suggests different types of Guatemalans, there are different types of foreigners.

The women of La Puya state, ‘To more repression, more non-violent resistance’.

The commitment to non-violence meant that the community provided a space that was peaceful and welcoming – ‘a place for children to play, where young and old can come together, and where everyone knows why they are there and what they are fighting for – their dignity as human beings’.

The community found its strength on this ‘intentional nonviolent action in resistance’ and it was this non-violence that was met by the indiscriminate violence of the State. Violence was used against the structure of the encampment as well as against the people, women, men, old and young.

The process of criminalisation continues with the State bringing charges against three people for defending their community against violence. The bizarre thing is that the defendants are being treated, not as individuals, but rather as a group. It also seems as if the lawyer for the Guatemalan subsidiary of KCA asked that the defence lawyer be put under house arrest. Who do these people think they are?

‘The struggle continues and it will be a long journey. It will continue being non-violent and legal methods will be taken against all the human rights violations that have been committed.’

You can follow events on twitter using #LaPuya.

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Categories: Guatemala

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