Today we visited communities in the department of Santa Rosa. On the road there, we were delayed by a “landslide” which had occurred the night before. Typical Guatemala experience!
We were welcomed in Jumaytepeque by a large group, mainly of men, small farmers from 3-4 small communities in Santa Rosa department. A few hundred men, wearing sombreros, belts with large buckles, jeans, shirts, boots, some mustached, a few women with pretty Guatemala aprons and children. They surrounded us. Made us sit down. Who are you? We needed to identify ourselves in details, before they could trust us. Were we from the mining company?
(ed. note: Santa Rosa is home of the Tahoe Resources mine, Escobal, which is owned 40% by Goldcorp Inc.).
They told us the story of their resistance to mining. Five communities voted NO A LA MINERIA (98%) but are being ignored. They are generally concerned about their water, their livelihood, their crops, their children’s future. They are pacifists and are being represented violently by the promoters of the mine. Men have been injured, others charged with resistance. A Spanish priest had to go back home following threats.
The second group we met was composed largely of women belonging to an organization called CODIDENA, community of the Dioceses for the Protection of Nature. We met them in Nueva Santa Rosa. They are working at informing the community of their rights. They have been involved in the popular consultation where every community rejected the mining. The mine plows on.
During our evening Reflection, we appreciated the huge commitment and responsibility we have been entrusted by these communities. Our Canadian mining companies are a disgrace in their indifference to both the environmental damage they cause and the harm they do to indigenous communities. Mother Earth needs to be protected. It cannot survive without water.