On November 11, 2018, six years after the municipality of Mataquescuintla voted “NO” in a referendum on mining, thousands of community members marched to uphold the results and re-affirm their resistance. The 2012 referendum, which saw 98.42% of participants reject mining, is one of several that have taken place in the area and has played a key role in preventing the unchecked expansion of mining activities.
Today over 3000 people marched in #Mataquescuintla to commemorate 6 years since the municipal referendum where more than 98% of voters said no to mining in their territory. #sialavida #Guatemala #WaterIsLife #Tahoeontrial pic.twitter.com/hc1P1XyOOG— Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (@BTS_MG) November 11, 2018
During the celebrations, the march stopped in front of the Mataquescuintla Peaceful Resistance Encampment – the second of its kind in the area that is taking direct action to stop mine-related traffic from getting to the silver operation. The other encampment, located in the nearby municipality of Casillas, has blocked mine-related traffic since June 2017 when it effectively shut down operations. Since then, the Constitutional Court has upheld a lower court ruling that suspended the Escobal license, ruling that the Xinka People’s rights had been violated when the mine began operations without consulting affected Indigenous communities. The Court ordered the Guatemalan government to carry out a consultation process but already, malicious behaviour on the part of the Guatemalan Government and Minera San Rafael has been denounced by the Xinka Parliament.
Members of the youth group JODVID participated in the march, lifting up the memory of their friend and comrade Topacio Reynoso Pacheco, an environmental activist who led the youth movement against mining in the area and who was killed in 2014. They marched chanting, “Topacio is in the streets!” and honored the many people who have been killed since Tahoe first arrived.
"Topacio is in the streets!" Youth environmental activists from #JODVID march in #Mataquescuintla yesterday on the 6th anniversary of the municipal referendum that rejected mining in the area. They honor the life of their friend & comrade, Topacio Reynoso, who was killed in 2014. pic.twitter.com/keHRuSWsEt— NISGUA (@NISGUA_Guate) November 12, 2018
Each year, communities in Mataquescuintla re-affirm their commitment to keep the municipality mining-free, participating in a regional movement against Tahoe Resources and all mining expansion in the area. This celebration is only one demonstration of many, reminding Tahoe Resources – and all future owners of the license – that community resistance isn’t going away.