During the past year, conflict around Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine has intensified as community resistance to the project grows. In March, we witnessed the first of 26 planned community referenda, a process that was cut short in May when the government declared a state of siege in the region. Tahoe’s project, while relatively new, follows a pattern of imposition, lack of consultation, and repression seen in many communities opposing large-scale development projects in Guatemala.
A community leader from San Rafael Las Flores summarizes the importance of the community consultation process: “What we want is for the president and the Ministry of Energy and Mines to realize that communities are doing everything possible to unite and to express our opposition to the projects through community referenda. We only ask that they listen to our opinion.”