Thousands gather in front of the Constitutional Court in Guatemala City, demanding the closure of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine and the respect for the self-determination of the Xinca People.
On Monday April 9, thousands took to the streets in Guatemala City as part of the “March for Life,” organized by the Xinca Parliament and the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa. Representatives from the indigenous Maya Ch’orti’, Ixil, Quiche and Garifuna Peoples showed up in support of the Xinca People and their call for the permanent closure of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine located in Xinca territory.
The Guatemalan courts temporarily suspended the mine over eight months ago as part of ongoing legal proceedings to determine if the Xinca People’s right to consultation was violated in granting the mining license in 2013. The courts will also determine if the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines discriminated against the Xinca People by justifying the lack of consultation by denying their very existence in the region. The case is currently being decided by the Constitutional Court that most recently ordered several Guatemalan academic institutions to carry out anthropological studies to determine the existence of indigenous people in San Rafael Las Flores, the municipality where the mine is located.
Read the full press release below, translated from the original statement in Spanish by NISGUA, Earthworks and MiningWatch.
Parliament of the Xinca People of Guatemala
April 9, 2018
From the Parliament of the Xinca People of Guatemala and the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa, in anticipation of the Constitutional Court’s conclusive resolution on the final appeal concerning proceedings over the “El Escobal” project operated by Minera San Rafael [Tahoe Resources’ wholly-owned Guatemalan subsidiary].
Let it be known that:
- We reject the disrespect shown to us by [the court] in requesting reports to assess our existence in the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores, [an act that] negates our existence and identity.
- We are concerned by the Guatemalan Chamber of Industry and the Guatemalan-American Chamber of Commerce’s (AMCHAM for its acronym in Spanish) Public Relations campaign in different media outlets as a way to pressure the Constitutional court to find in favor of Minera San Rafael.
- Minera San Rafael is more concerned with its billion-dollar investment in the project than with the impacts they are causing throughout the region of Santa Rosa, Jutiapa, and Jalapa, including the destruction of our social fabric, as well as pollution, criminalization, forced migration and the violation of the rights to water and housing.
- We are concerned about how the community of La Cuchilla in San Rafael Las Flores has been destroyed and that, in order to protect the interests of Minera San Rafael, the state has not taken responsibility. Meanwhile, other communities are also at risk.
- To date, the idea of development touted in the media is not evident in our communities, as claimed by company executives.
- Since the resistance camps began in Casillas and in front of the Constitutional Court, there have been actions taken to provoke community members in order to create the conditions for their criminalization.
- Tremors have ceased since the resistance camp in Casillas began, despite state institutions responsible for such matters attributing the seismic activity to natural causes.
- Water for human consumption is becoming ever more scarce, making it necessary to drill underground wells, while the water table is also getting deeper.
- We reject all forms of interference on the Court by either foreign governments or the Guatemalan government.
- We understand the complexity of this case, for which reason we have waited, aware that the arguments being made as part of this process underscore the necessity that mining activities be stopped and a debate take place about this country’s development model.
Given the above, we call for:
- The Guatemalan Chamber of Industry to respect judicial independence, peoples’ right to autonomy and their right to live in peace.
- Constitutional Court justices to issue a decision that would permanently suspend Minera San Rafael’s “El Escobal” mining project, for the reasons mentioned.
- [The recognition] that this case is not the same as in the Oxec Case such that the Minera San Rafael case cannot be based on that verdict.
WE ARE A PEOPLE OF PEACE THAT DEFENDS OUR TERRITORY
And as long as our demands are not heard, we will continue in permanent resistance.
GUATEMALA DE LA ASUNCIÓN, APRIL 2018
Voice of the Xinca Guatemalan Nation