To the communities of San José de Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc, Guatemala.
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We wish to express our congratulations this March 2 for your 10 years of brave peaceful resistance in defense of water, life, community health and against mining and the Progreso VII Derivada project, owned by U.S. mining company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA).
We recall on March 2, 2012 how the Peaceful Resistance La Puya began with a protest camp in front of the entrance to the mine site, which you still maintain. Over the decade, you have suffered acts of intimidation, an attempted assassination of one of your members, the criminalization of various others, as well as a violent eviction in May 2014. During this time, you also undertook legal actions, which led to the November 2015 decision of the Supreme Court of Justice to order the suspension of mining activities that was upheld by the Constitutional Cour in June 2020 until which time a consultation has been undertaken with the community.
It has been a long struggle with various obstacles, but also important victories. Faced with the violence from the state and the company, the Peaceful Resistance La Puya has sustained itself through faith and the conviction that what you are defending is what you hold most valuable of all: the environment, water, and as such, life itself, including the lives of your children, grandchildren and future generations.
We acknowledge these 10 years of resistance and express our admiration and solidarity. Your commitment to non-violence and ongoing investigation and learning in order to have solid arguments with which to defend your territory and the environment has made you an example of peaceful resistance nationally and internationally.
The Peaceful Resistance has faced numerous challenges throughout its history. The company obtained permits for its project by way of irregularities and illegal acts that were denounced at the time, including falsifying a municipal construction permit. Additionally, no prior consultations regarding the project were ever carried out with the affected population, thereby violating the community’s rights to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent in good faith. Actors involved in the project have also ignored the serious environmental impacts that mining would have in your territory – where water shortage was already an issue. Moreover, according to studies from the Ministry of Health, the water contains high levels of arsenic, which would continue to rise dangerously as a result of mineral extraction, putting the health of the population at risk. Despite KCA’s awareness of this situation, it used intimidation and aggression using official police forces against the peaceful resistance to put its gold mine in operation for two years, disregarding the environmental and human costs.
Currently, KCA is suing the state of Guatemala for $400 million dollars at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) under the terms of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. (DR-CAFTA). This is just further evidence of its economic ruthlessness to first dispossess the community and now swindle the Guatemalan state for millions of dollars.
Today, more than ever, the demands of the communities of San Pedro Ayampuc and San José del Golfo resonate: that their lives must be respected, along with their decision to keep their territory free of mining. So that the particular interests of transnational mining companies may never again be allowed to prevail over the wellbeing of communities and nature.
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Long live the communities of San Pedro Ayampuc and San José del Golfo!
Long live the Peaceful Resistance La Puya!
1. Alianza Centroamericana Frente a la Mineria (ACAFREMIN)
2. JASS Mesoamérica
3. Protección Internacional Mesoamérica
4. Terra Justa
5. Alianza Política Sector de Mujeres (APSM)
6. AME Guatemala
7. Apostolado Social de la Compañía de Jesús
8. Colectivo Ovejas Negras Guatemala
9. Colectivo Vida Independiente de Guatemala
10. Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios (ECAP)
12. Observatorio de Industrias Extractivas (OIE)
13. Sector Interreligioso Centinelas
14. Acción Colectiva Socioambiental, A.C.
15. Americas Program/AMERICAS.ORG
16. Articulación por la vida en contra de la minería en el Valle de Ocotlán, Oaxaca
17. Asociación Jalisciense de Apoyo a los Grupos Indígenas, A.C.
18. Bios Iguana, A.C.
19. Comité Ixtepecano en Defensa de la Vida y el Territorio
20. Frente Popular en Defensa del Soconusco, Chiapas
21. Fronteras Comunes
22. Otros Mundos Chiapas, A.C.
23. Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos
24. Red Mexicana de Afectadas/os por la Minería (REMA)
25. Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
26. CoDevelopment Canada (CoDev)
27. Comité de Derechos Humanos para America Latina
28. Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS)
29. Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN)
30. Mining Justice Action Committee
31. MiningWatch Canada
32. Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala (PAQG)
33. CNT-AIT Tarragona, Spain
34. El Comité Noruego de Solidaridad con América Latina, Norway
35. Grupo latinoamericano en Noruega (LAG), Norway
36. Project HEARD, Netherlands
37. Red de Solidaridad con Guatemala de Berna, Switzerland
38. Red Latina Sin Fronteras, Spain
39. Salva la Selva, Spain
40. Soldepaz Pachakuti, Spain
41. American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
42. Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
43. Denver Justice and Peace Committee
45. Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC)
46. Guatemaya L. A. Mujeres en Resistencia
47. Guatemaya Mujeres en Resistencia
48. The Human Rights Defenders Project
49. Institute for Policy Studies – Global Economy Program
50. Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
51. SHARE Foundation
52. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
Africa Garcia del Rincón, Spain
Angélica Denice Cen Ignacio, Guatemala
Begoña Navarro, Spain
César Padilla, Chile
Claudia Estrada C, Guatemala
Eduardo Delgado Duatis, Spain
Erenia Vanegas, Guatemala
David Pereira, Guatemala
Francisco Chavez C., Guatemala
Janette Murillo, Mexico
José Fernando Gómez Toro, Colombia
Leticia Hartleben, Guatemala
Margie Noonan, Canada
María Candelaria Carrera Catalán, Guatemala
Matilde Angeltveit, Norway
Nacho Hernández, Spain
Pat Davis, U.S.
Paula Flores, Mexico
Rachel Radvany, U.S.
Rebeca Zúniga-Hamlin, U.S.
Rosalinda Hidalgo, Canada
Ruth Leckie, Canada
Sara Díaz, Mexico
Valerie Croft, Canada