Tag Archives: guatemala

Guatemala: Anti-mining resistance celebrates two years of struggle

By Rob Mercatante, March 11, 2014. Source: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

Photo: Upside Down World

La Puya started, as many great movements do, with a single act of civil disobedience.

A woman, concerned by the sudden arrival of a gold mining operation in her community, decided to park her car sidewise across a dusty, rural road in order to stop a convoy of massive mining machinery in its tracks. Others quickly joined her, taking a stand in defense of their water supply, farmland, health, and environment.

This impromptu roadside gathering of community members became, essentially, a human roadblock, preventing tractors, dump trucks and other equipment from entering the Tambor mine site. Over time, the roadblock grew into the resistance movement known as “La Puya.”

La Puya – against all odds – celebrated its second anniversary on March 2.

“We never thought when we started this movement that we would make it to the two-year mark. For us, it is truly a victory and an example for many others,” said Álvaro Sandoval, community leader at La Puya.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Women

Guatemala: Q’eqchi’ dam opponents arrested despite murder of children

March 4, 2014. Source: Guatemala Solidarity Project

August 2013 funeral for children murdered by hydroelectric company hitmen.  Photo: Comité de Unidad Campesina

August 2013 service for children murdered by hydroelectric company hitmen. Photo: Comité de Unidad Campesina

The Guatemala Solidarity Project strongly condemns yesterday’s illegal arrest of community leader Jose Maria Guitz. Guitz is among thousands of indigenous q’eqchi’ peasants organizing against the threatened construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam. The dam would cause massive environmental damage and rob land from dozens of q’eqchi’ communities.

Guitz runs one of the few health centers in the region, meaning his arrest will have a deep negative impact in the area. Guitz is a member of the community Monte Olivo of the municipality of Coban, Alta Verapaz. The community has faced extreme repression for organizing in defense of their constitutional rights.

On August 14, 2013, environmentalist and community leader David Chen was threatened at gun point and narrowly escaped an attempted kidnapping. On August 23, 2013, 13 year-old Ageo Isaac Maas Guitz and 11-year-old David Estuardo Pacay Mass were murdered by an employee of Hidro Santa Rita SA. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Water

Pressure to construct Xalalá hydroelectric dam; Local opposition remains strong

February 18, 2014. Source: NISGUA
Cultivated fields that would be flooded by the Xalalá dam.  Photo: NISGUA

Cultivated fields that would be flooded by the Xalalá dam. Photo: NISGUA

Nearly two years after the Guatemalan government announced its renewed interest in constructing the Xalalá Hydroelectric Dam, communities maintain strong opposition to the project in the three affected municipalities: Ixcán, Uspantán, and Cobán.

The Xalalá Hydroelectric Dam was first proposed in the 1970s. Declared of “national interest,” it figured prominently in the Master Plan for National Electrification and the Northern Transversal Strip (FTN), a political-economic vision for land use, industrialization, and natural resource exploitation. If constructed, the Xalalá Dam would be the second largest hydroelectric dam in the country, producing an estimated 181 megavolts and flooding the lands of some 58 communities in three municipalities.
Community opposition consolidated after the 2007 community consultation held in the municipality of Ixcán, in which more than 90% of the population rejected the construction of hydroelectric dams such as Xalalá. In 2009, the municipality of Uspantán followed suit, holding a community consultation in which 90% of their population also rejected the construction of hydroelectric dams. Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Hydroelectric dams, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Water

Indigenous Guatemalans bring Canadian mining company to court

By Arij Riahi, 20 October 2013. Source: The Dominion

Guatemalan fist(Image: Guatemalan fist via Shutterstock)


Montreal - For the first time, a Canadian mining company will appear in a Canadian court for actions committed overseas. Hudbay Minerals, Inc, will be standing trial for murder, rapes and attacks committed against Indigenous Guatemalans by security personnel working for Hudbay’s subsidiary, Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN). The court case is proceeding thanks to a precedent-setting decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, which ruled this past July in favour of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ people of Lote Ocho, near El Estor, Guatemala.

“It is a massive victory for our clients and for human rights,” Cory Wanless, an attorney with the Toronto-based Klippensteins law firm, told The Dominion. “Before this decision, no claim brought by individuals that had been harmed by Canadian mining abroad had ever gotten into Canadian courts at all. They didn’t even have the ability to forward their claims.”

Wanless represents the Q’eqchi’ plaintiffs in a lawsuit accusing the company of negligence in its ground management of the Fenix open-pit nickel mine project. They allege that security personnel—under the control of Hudbay—gang-raped 11 women, shot dead an Indigenous leader and outspoken critic of mining practices and left another man paralyzed from the chest down after sustaining a gunshot wound.

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Guatemala: Mineral interests behind massacre?

September 16, 2013. Source: World War 4 Report

Kaqchikel indigenous authorities in the central Guatemalan pueblo of San José Nacahuil, just outside the capital, are protesting the government’s response to a Sept. 8 massacre in which 11 residents were killed and 15 injured in as gunmen shot up a cantina. Some of the bodies were found in the bathroom where patrons attempted to hide from the attack; others were chased out into the street and gunned down. Governance Minister Mauricio López told reporters the killings could be the work of youth gangs or maras linked to the drug trade. But traditional Kaqchikel leaders issued a statement reading: “We are strongly opposed to the statement of the Minister of the Governance that blamed gangs, which is completely false. It is premature to make statements without having initiated an investigation.” (Global Voices, Sept. 10; AFP, Sept. 9; BBC NewsAP, Sept. 8)

The statement speculated the attack could be linked to a protest encampment being maintained by village residents at the community of La Puya, outside the gates of the Tambor gold mine, owned by US-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA). The protest camp has been ongoing since March 2012, and in June of that year a protest leader was shot and gravely wounded by unknown gunmen near the camp. KCA subsequently bought out their former Canadian partner Radius Gold, which cited a corporate strategy “to divest problematic assets.” (San José Nacahuil lies within San Pedro Ayampuc municipality; the mine straddles the border with San José del Golfo municipality to the east.)
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Precedent setting ruling in Canada against Hudbay Minerals

By John Ahni Schertow, July 23, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Angelica Choc, Adolfo Ich Chamán’s widow, announcing one of three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals Inc. (2010) Photo: James Rodriguez / mimundo.org

Angelica Choc, Adolfo Ich Chamán’s widow, announcing one of three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals Inc. (2010) Photo: James Rodriguez / mimundo.org

In a precedent-setting ruling that has national and international implications, Ontario Superior Court Justice Carole Brown has ruled that three separate lawsuits against the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals can proceed to trial even though the plaintiffs are from another country.

“As a result of this ruling, Canadian mining corporations can no longer hide behind their legal corporate structure to abdicate responsibility for human rights abuses that take place at foreign mines under their control at various locations throughout the world,” said Murray Klippenstein, of Toronto’s Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors, who’s representing 13 Maya Qeqchi from El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala.

The Maya Qeqchi turned to Canada’s court system over three separate injustices that were carried out by employees of the Fenix Mining Project, a nickel mine that was acquired by HudBay Minerals after the company purchased Skye Resources in 2008.

In January 2007, Skye Resources (subsequently renamed HMI Nickel) requested the eviction of five Maya Qeqchi communities from their ancestral lands.
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Indigenous Guatemalans reject mining moratorium, want genuine community consultation

By Curtis Kline, July 19, 2013. Source: Intercontinental Cry

"With the referendum, we decide our future" Banner of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace. Photo: NISGUA

“With the referendum, we decide our future” Banner of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace. Photo: NISGUA

Mining in Guatemala has often been to the detriment of the Indigenous Peoples of the country as it has proven to take away their ability to control their lands and livelihoods. It pollutes their farmlands and water resources, forces relocation, and diminishes their ability to continue their way of life. However, the newly announced moratorium on the granting of new mineral mining licenses has been rejected as a political show intended to calm widespread resistance to harmful mining projects.

The proposed two-year moratorium is similar to the moratorium put in place during the previous presidency of Colom. Since current president Molina lifted that moratorium a year and a half ago, over one hundred licenses have been granted for mining and exploration.

Considering that during his announcement of the Moratorium, Molina made it very clear that Tahoe Resources’ contentious Escobal mine project would be allowed to continue, it seems clear that the purpose of the moratorium is not to advance Indigenous rights, but to placate resistance.
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‘Yes, there was genocide!’: Guatemala’s Ixil vow to continue fight for justice

By Robert Mercatante, June 28, 2013. Source: America’s Program

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In the early hours of June 21 hundreds of human rights defenders, artists, feminists, musicians, religious workers, community organizers, independent journalists, international accompaniers, campesino and indigenous activists and others gathered in Guatemala City to participate in “The Caravan for the Dignity of the Ixil People and Against Genocide”.

Buses, vans, and cars decorated with banners that read, “Yes there WAS genocide!” and “Justice for the victims of the massacres!”made a seven-hour journey through flat farmland and winding mountain roads en route to Nebaj, Quiché. Along the way, buses carrying community members from Huehuetenango, Ixcán, the Southern coast and other regions of the country joined the caravan.

Upon arriving in Nebaj, we were met by local indigenous authorities who, with ceremonial staffs in hand, headed up the multitudinous march through the spectator-filled streets. A light drizzle didn’t dampen spirits as we proudly carried banners, shouted slogans, and played music in defense of truth, historic memory, and justice.

Juana Brito Bernal, an Ixil woman and genocide survivor, explained the nature of what was at once a protest and a celebration. “Every nation in the world should know that genocide happened here in Guatemala,” she told the crowd. “They tried to exterminate us, but they couldn’t exterminate us.”
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Action Alert: Indigenous peasant leader arrested in Guatemala – act now to stop his torture

May 20, 2013

The Guatemala Solidarity Project strongly condemns the arrest of our good friend Alberto Choc Xe, a community leader from the indigenous q’eqchi’ village Saquimo Setana.  Choc was arrested on Thursday, May 16.

We call on immediate solidarity from the international community.  We know that other arrested leaders of Saquimo Setana have faced beatings, hunger, false bribes and other forms of abuse and tricks used to pressure them to admit to crimes they didn’t commit and to implicate other local and national leaders in these crimes.

For background on the conflict in Saquimo Setana please refer to our earlier videos, two of which can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXoFw87lw0Y (an overview of the conflict at Saquimo) and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FN1pbixFMkc (which focuses on the case of another political prisoner from Saquimo).

We fear for Alberto’s immediate safety and we believe that the small action of calling the Guatemalan Consulate in Chicago can help protect Alberto in the coming hours and days.  Please call them at 312-540-0781 or 312-540-0808 to voice your extreme concern for the safety of Alberto Choc Xe of Saquimo Setana, arrested on May 16 in Canguanic, part of Coban, Alta Verapaz, and currently being held in Coban.  Please ask for the immediate release of Alberto, as well as of Pablo Sacrab,   another leader from Saquimo who has been in prison since 2010.

Please also consider making a contribution to the GSP.  All contributions go to our partners in Guatemala. Because of a budget shortfall we are not currently able to provide financial assistance to arrested Saquimo leaders.  In the past we have been able to help purchase medical supplies, food and other important support. Contributions can be made tax deductible through our fiscal sponsor UPAVIM by writing a check to the “UPAVIM Community Development Foundation” and sending to UPAVIM, c/o Greg Norman, 713 W. Garfield, Temple, TX, 76501.  Or donate on paypal at http://upavim.pursuantgroup.net/english/donate.htm (Click on “Make a Donation,” then write GSP in the description space)

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Despite historic conviction, genocide continues in Guatemala

By Leonor Hurtado, May 15, 2013. Source: Food First

On May 10th, the Guatemalan Court of Justice convicted the ex-dictator General Ríos Montt to 80 years in prison for the massacres of indigenous people during the 1980s [1]. Many Guatemalans hope that the judicial process against the criminals of the country’s “dirty war” will continue [2].

But while the Guatemalan people celebrate the conviction, the processes of genocide initiated 30 years ago by Ríos Montt’s massacres still continue by other means.

In the last decade, the expansion of oil palm plantations and sugarcane production for ethanol in Northern Guatemala has displaced hundreds of Maya-Q´eqchi´ peasant families, increasing poverty, hunger, unemployment and landlessness in the region, confirms Alberto Alfonso-Fradejas in the new Food First report, “Sons and Daughters of the Earth: Indigenous Communities and Land Grabs in Guatemala” [3]. There is a tremendous contradiction here: at the same time that the ex-General Ríos Montt is convicted for genocide, the state allows the oligarchy, allied with extractive industries, to displace entire populations without taking into account the human cost, and in many cases, resulting in the murder and imprisonment of rural people who resist the assault. The genocide against the indigenous peasant population in Guatemala no longer has the face of a military dictatorship supported by the United States…. Now it is the corporations, the oligarchy and the World Bank who push peasants off their lands. Continue reading

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