Violence Against Q’eqchi’ Community In El Estor

Statement from UDEFEGUA in response to state violence

The above statement was released by UDEFEGUA in response to the violence carried out by state forces against the Q’eqchi’ population in El Estor protesting against the open-pit Fénix nickel mine owned by Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN).

My translation follows.

The Unit For The Protection Of Human Rights Defenders – Guatemala (UDEFEGUA),

In the face of the acts of repression suffered by the Q’eqchi’ population


Its concern and condemnation of the acts of repression carried out by members of the National Civil Police (PNC), and reinforcements of elements of the Army, against the Q’eqchi population and community in El Estor, Izabal.

Among other acts of repression that have been denounced, acts of intimidation against journalists and social communicators, who have carried out their work of documenting and informing the Guatemalan population of the events that have taken place, as well as against the women and children affected by these acts of repression.

We express our solidarity with the Q’eqchi’ community and population, who are resisting the imposition of a project that has been temporarily suspended by judicial resolution. The lack of compliance with the provisions of Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is the express cause of the demands of the population of the municipality of Estor.

Everything documented by journalists, and social communicators, shows the disproportionate and excessive use of force by members of the National Civil Police. This is in violation of international human rights standards.

We urgently request the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH), the representation of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala (OACNUDH), and international human rights organisations, to note the situation and to issue their respective considerations on the acts of violence against the Q’eqchi’ population living in the municipality of El Estor.

We call on Guatemalan society to express its repudiation of these acts of violence by the National Civil Police and to express its solidarity with the resistance in the municipality.

Guatemala – 23rd October 2021.

PBI Canada have posted some background to the mine and local opposition, as well as presenting images and links to the violence carried out by state forces from Prensa Comunitaria. Indigenous communities around Guatemala have also shown their support and solidarity with the Q’eqchi’ people of El Estor.

Indigenous Q’eqchi’ communities in El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala are protesting the open-pit Fénix nickel mine now owned by Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN), a subsidiary of the Russian company Solway Investment Group.

They have been in a roadside makeshift camp since October 4 to prevent the passage of machinery to the mine. On October 22, the National Civil Police and Guatemalan Army attacked with tear gas.

The Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman, Jordán Rodas, has stated: “Since 2019, the Constitutional Court (the highest court in the country) ordered CGN to suspend the mining exploitation license, for not having carried out prior consultation.”

Rodas adds: “The Government of Guatemala guards CGN trucks” to enter the mine while security forces “repress the population and journalists.”

The mine was first developed by Toronto-based Inco during the civil war in Guatemala, then owned by Toronto-based Hudbay and Vancouver-based Skye Resources (2006-2011) and is now operated by the Russian-owned Solway Group that is based in Zug, Switzerland.

The mine was expanded in 2018.

In January 2021, Mynor Padilla, a former army lieutenant colonel and security chief for the Fenix mine, was found guilty of homicide for the 2009 fatal shooting of Q’eqchi’ community leader Adolfo Ich who opposed the mine.

You can read the full piece, from PBI Cananda, here PBI-Guatemala rejects state violence against Q’eqchi’ peoples opposed to the Fenix mine.

The statement from UDEFEGUA can be read here, UDEFEGUA – Comunicado.

More images and videos, including acts of solidarity, can be seen here, Prensa Comunitaria.

Guatemala Solidarity Network unreservedly rejects the state violence against Q’eqchi’ people demostrating against the Fenix mine.

Categories: Accompaniment, Environment, Evictions, Guatemala, Human Rights, Impunity, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Military, Mining, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Solidarity in Action/Guatemala, Violence

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