The ‘Comunidad en Resistencia‘ of La Puya achieved a notable victory in a Guatemalan appeals court when it ruled in favor of the right of the residents to be consulted about those projects that affect them and ordered the suspension of construction activities at the mine.
The ruling is a significant step and a positive sign for community members from San Pedro Ayampuc and San José del Golfo who have joined together in non-violent resistance to oppose what they see as a deeply harmful mining project.
‘La Puya’ has maintained a 24-hour presence at the entrance to the site for over three years during which time the community has denounced the intimidating or illegal actions on the part of the Guatemalan company that holds the mining license, EXMINGUA, as well as by its parent company, Reno-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates.
Recently, another blockade was set up In San Pedro Ayampuc directed at the Colombian energy company, TRESCA which is aiming to bring high power energy lines to the El Tambor mine as well as many of the mines scattered around this part of Guatemala. Again, this is all done without consulting any of the affected communities.
In May of this year, the community in resistance of La Puya were again targeted by forces of the state in breaking up the demonstration, one year after a particularly violent attack against the unarmed and peaceful community.
The sentence comes in a context of widespread outrage about corruption in all sectors of government. The former Minister of Energy and Mines, Erick Archila, resigned after being accused of corruption. His Vice-Minister, who was sworn in as Minister in May, has since been arrested on charges of conspiracy for participation in a network of officials engaging in influence peddling and money laundering.
Mining itself has been one of the most controversial issues in Guatemala in recent years. Licenses have been granted despite poor environmental impact assessments, lack of oversight, and with no consultation, generating immense social conflict in communities across the country that opposes the projects. Threats, attacks and deadly violence are commonplace against activists defending their right to land, territory, consultation and a healthy environment.
More about the court decsion can be found here on the GHRC website.
More about La Puya and other environment struggles in Guatemala can be followed on the environmental justice atlas as it documents and catalogues social conflict and environmental issues can be found here.