The Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC) recently announced that the winner of the annual Alice Zachmann Human Rights Award, for 2021, is being awarded to The El Estor Resistance.
In October of this year, Indigenous authorities, along with the Fisherman’s Guild in El Estor, established a peaceful resistance encampment to block supply trucks from accessing an illegal nickel mine that threatens their lives and the environment. The Fenix Mine, a contested project for decades, had been ordered to suspend operations following a 2019 Constitution Court ruling that found the Guatemalan Nickel Company had been illegally operating the mine since 2005, given that the company had failed to conduct a consultation process with the affected communities.
The El Estor Resistance is calling for a free and fair consultation process with all legitimate Indigenous communities whose health and livelihoods the mine affects.
Because of their effective opposition to the mine, members of the El Estor Resistance are facing danger. On October 23, thousands of Guatemalan security forces violently cleared the encampment and escorted trucks to the mine, and President Giammattei declared a month-long state of siege, suspending basic constitutional rights, such as freedom of movement and assembly. The community is now under a “state of prevention,” which still entails the suspension of such rights, with the police, army, and navy present to enforce the crackdown. Security forces are specifically targeting members of the resistance. Community leaders and journalists are being followed and have been arbitrarily arrested and harassed. Many have had their homes violently raided by police.
You can read the full announcement here, 2021 Alice Zachmann Award: El Estor Resistance.
The Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defender’s Award recognizes an individual, organization or community who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting respect for human rights, even when confronted by threats and violence. The award serves as a means to highlight the struggle of the recipient on an international level and aims to protect human rights defenders at risk of suffering acts of violence or other attacks. It is awarded in honor of Sister Alice Zachmann who founded GHRC in 1982, and directed the organization tirelessly over 20 years.