Protest outside of the Ministry of Mines and Energy (GHRC-2016)
Ten years ago today, the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya was born in defense of community water, life, and health and against an illegal mine. On March 2, 2012, the communities of San José de Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc united and established a protest camp outside of the entrance of the mine, which had been imposed without their free, prior, and informed consent. For ten long years, the resistance has struggled in the face of threats, intimidation, an attempted assassination, and a violent eviction. Due to the tenacity and determination of the Peace Resistance of La Puya, which included taking the case to the highest court, the mining license of the project was provisionally suspended in 2016, when the Supreme Court ruled that the affected communities were never consulted on the project and directly violated their rights, as established in the International Labor Organization Treaty’s Convention 169. Guatemala’s Constitutional Court confirmed this ruling in 2017 and ordered a consultation.
Police and mining security violently evicting and repressing protesters (photo by GHRC, 2014)
The Progreso VII Derivada project–also known as the El Tambor Mine–is a gold and silver mine owned by US mining company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA). After illegally obtaining the mining permits, with the knowledge that the mine was contaminating community water sources with arsenic, KCA fought against the community resistance, using violence and criminalization in an effort to silence opponents of the mine. Now, under the terms of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, KCA is suing the government of Guatemala for $400 million dollars before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
GHRC is honored to have accompanied La Puya since its inception, awarding the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya the 2012 Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defender Award. GHRC’s Guatemala staff observed the 2014 violent eviction of resistance members and helped negotiate and support the safety of members of La Puya.
In a letter of solidarity we signed, together with more than 50 organizations, we commend today the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya for its valiant, persistent defense of fundamental rights.
We congratulate the resistance for 10 years of commitment to defending their territories and we stand in solidarity with their nonviolent struggle.
Our accompaniment of movements like La Puya has been made possible by generous contributions from supporters like you. Your donations allow us to continue on-the-ground support of defenders and provide key advocacy in Washington, DC. Will you make a gift here to help us continue our work?
¡Qué viva La Puya!
Second anniversary celebration of La Puya (2014)