|Police in San Rafael las Flores, April 11 Source: resistencapacificaelescobal.blogspot.com
While representatives from mining affected communities from throughout Mesoamerica gathered in Huehuetenango to discuss strategies to confront the expansion of mining in their territories, the peaceful encampment in San Rafael Las Flores was violently evicted by members of the National Police. At the time of this writing at least 29 people have been detained and many more were injured in the attack.
Since Monday, April 8, men, women and children from the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores have been peacefully gathered on privately owned land in an ongoing expression of their opposition to the exploitation license granted to Minera San Rafael, the Guatemalan subsidiary of Tahoe Resources.
The encampment had publically and repeatedly expressed their intention to peacefully occupy the land in order to voice their opposition to the recently approved project. On the day of the eviction community leaders denounced acts of provocation by unidentified individuals in a vehicle similar to those used by the mine private security. Instead of investigating the provocations or engaging in dialogue with the encampment, the Government of Guatemala chose to violently evict the peaceful resistance.
The exploitation license was granted in a climate of increasing violence and despite the ongoing criminal investigation into Minera San Rafael for industrial contamination. Community members have repeatedly expressed their rejection of Tahoe’s Escobal project through community consultations, carried out throughout the mining affected region.
We join the Mesoamerican Movement Against the Extractive Mining Model (M4) in denouncing the violent eviction of the peaceful encampment. Please read the recent M4 statement below.
Translation by NISGUA
THE MESOAMERICAN MOVEMENT AGAINST THE EXTRACTIVE MINING MODEL/ M4
Declaration to the national and international community:
With respect to the violent repression against the community of San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa, on behalf of the public security forces with the complicity of the San Rafael mine for expressing their inconformity regarding the granting of the exploitation license by the Guatemalan Government, we hereby denounce the negative impacts of the recent violations of human rights and rights of the environment.
For this reason:
WE DEMAND that the Government of Guatemala and the other pertinent institutions, to end the persecution, harassment, intimidation, psychological, and physical violence carried out during the recent days that has disturbed the peace and harmonious coexistence which guarantee the development and integrity of indigenous peoples.
WE DEMAND the immediate liberation of our brothers and sisters who were detained during the events of Thursday, April 11, of the current year.
WE DEMAND justice and reparations for all of those affected by this act which was carried out by the national police and disguised agents who employed excessive and brutal force.
WE DEMAND respect for the right to peacefully protest and for the collective right to be heard through the community consultation process, which has demanded the departure of the company.
To the community of San Rafael Las Flores in resistance to mining we convey our immense solidarity in response to the events of today.
WE REJECT THE ATTACKS AGAINST THE COMMUNITY IN PEACEFUL RESISTANCE IN SAN RAFAEL LAS FLORES, IN DEFENSE OF LIFE AND TERRITORY.
For the respect of natural resources and human rights we demand justice and liberty.
From Canada to Panama, mining will not advance!
Guatemala, April 11, 2013
NISGUA has been accompanying the consultation processes in the communities surrounding the Tahoe Resources mine site since 2011.