The entrance to the resistance camp. Photo: NISGUA
On a visit to the camp, President of the Xinca Parliament and resident of Quesada, Aleiser Arana, told NISGUA that after a municipal consultation held on May 8, 2016, residents began to investigate other potential threats to their territory. During the consultation, more than 8,000 people voted against mining projects in any part of the municipality, with only 8 votes in favor. This project has since gone forward without any community consultation process and despite the community’s clear decision against resource extraction projects that could potentially damage the environment.
The details around the biomass project remained elusive for many months because a license for the energy generating project was never solicited from the Ministry of Energy and Mines. The company has claimed that it does not need a license since it is a low energy producer, however communities have uncovered other anomalies in the legality of their project. Already over 2,000 native trees, including some listed as protected endangered species, have been cut to make way for the eucalyptus forests that were sold for profit. The company allegedly did not have the commercial tree-cutting license necessary to carry out these activities.
Solidarity from other movements to protect land against resource extraction
After 45 days of around-the-clock presence in the camp, the resistance members held a special solidarity mass on September 2, in which they shared experiences with other Guatemalan movements to protect land. Members of the “La Puya” spoke about their struggle over four years of peaceful resistance to Kappes Cassiday and Associates El Tambor mine on the outskirts of Guatemala City. Other legal and environmental organizations, including CALAS, CODIDENA, the Organized Civil Society of Mataquescuintla, and the youth group JODVID, all shared their experiences organizing against the expansion of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine in neighboring San Rafael las Flores.