Mining interests in Guatemala challenged by indigenous direct democracy

We featured a piece, here, recently by James Rodríguez about a Consulta that took place in Santa María Chiquimula.

This is by Jeff Abbott on Waging Nonviolence.

Conflicts over mining are expanding across Guatemala. According to a recent report by Amnesty International, the Canadian government and Canada-based multinational mining companies have played a major role in the conflicts and abuses of human rights in indigenous communities.

The report, which was published in September 2014, states that Canada, which is headquarters for three-quarters of global mining companies, and the government of Guatemala have failed to provide space for community involvement and voices in the expansion of mining. The inadequate protection and unwillingness of the Guatemalan government of President Otto Pérez Molina to guarantee the rights of indigenous communities has exacerbated the situation.

By failing to consult the communities on the development projects, the Guatemalan state is in violation of international law. This failure, however, has not stopped the communities from holding their own consultation in what the spokesman of the indigenous community of Cantel, Quetzaltenago referred to in a press conference as a “deeply and profoundly democratic process.”

On the chilly morning of October 26 in the highland municipality of Santa Maria Chiquimula about 125 miles from Guatemala City, residents came out to participate in a community vote deciding whether or not they would resist the exploitation of natural resources.

You can read the full article by Jeff here on the Waging Nonviolence website and you can see James’s piece here.

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Categories: Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land

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