This from The Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Across Guatemala, communities have innovated diverse strategies to protect and defend their lands and livelihoods.
For the communities of San Juan Bosco and Casillas in southeastern Guatemala, the imposition of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine in a neighboring municipality was a catalyst for local organizing to protect their lands from the devastating impacts of mining. Residents peacefully opposing the Escobal mine, which has been plagued by conflict since at least 2010, have faced violent repression by both state and private security forces.
To protect their rights, residents of Casillas and San Juan Bosco held referenda in 2011 and 2013 respectively. In both votes, residents overwhelmingly rejected any mining activity in their territories. Residents have cited, among many concerns, the strain on water resources in the largely agricultural area.
Despite this community process, residents learned from company stock filings in 2015 that Canada-based Gunpoint Exploration reported that Guatemalan authorities had granted it a concession for a mine project called Escorpión, just six kilometers from Tahoe’s Escobal mine.
Details about Gunpoint’s concession remain unclear, including ambiguity about the geographic area the concession covers. Across Guatemala, the lack of transparency in license-granting processes is a major concern, making it difficult to know which companies have invested where and if (or when) mining operations will begin.
In June 2016, residents of San Juan Bosco and Casillas asked Gunpoint President Randy Reifel to clarify his company’s interests and to respect community decision-making by desisting from operating in areas where the population has already voted against mining. Their requests have been met with silence.
Local communities have a right to information and to participate in decision-making that affects them.
Take action in solidarity with concerned community members to support their demands for transparency. Send a message calling on Randy Reifel to be transparent about Gunpoint’s interests in the region and respond to all community concerns expressed in their letter.