The nonviolent anti-mining group La Puya won a major victory last month. For three years, the group has been blockading the entrance to the El Tambor gold mine in Guatemala. La Puya is made up of people from the communities surrounding El Tambor who oppose the mine because of the damage it will do to their water and land.
On July 15, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala ruled that El Tambor was operating illegally. The mine is owned by the American company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA). The court found that KCA had not obtained any permits for the mine from the municipality. KCA also failed to hold required consultations with the community before beginning the project. The judge ordered KCA to end all operations at El Tambor in 15 days. The company must also hold community consultations before determining if mining operations can continue. KCA is appealing the decision.
On August 1st, the day after the court’s deadline for ending operations, KCA was still operating the mine. More construction equipment and materials arrived at the mine in the final days before the deadline. On August 3rd, three days after work should have ended, anti-riot units of the Guatemalan National Police were sent to the mine to protect construction materials.
Despite the mining company’s disregard of the court order, this is still a victory for La Puya. According to member Antonio Reyes, “This is a confirmation that people have a reason to protest peacefully… but this struggle isn’t over.” La Puya will continue its blockade of the mine entrance. The group is also planning new actions to protest the mine, but did not give more detail.
‘Obnoxious’ Protesters Will Not Make Guatemalan Gold Mine Go Away, CEO Says, VICE News, 4 August 2015.
Communities struggling against mining win major victory in Guatemala, Waging Nonviolence, 28 July 2015.
Urge Kappes, Cassiday & Associates to respect the court’s decision and stop all operations at El Tambor.