By: Lisa Rankin, BTS Guatemala Coordinator

The sign reads “The Xinca people exercise our fundamental right to consultation to defender our territory against the San Rafael mine.” Credit: Stacey Gomez

The permanent encampment in Casillas made a surprising discovery in November, as two trucks carrying iron balls used for crushing rock in mining activities attempted to pass through the encampment. The drivers of the trucks stated they were going to the Escobal mine. The community called the police, who detained the truck while under investigation. 

The Escobal mine, owned by Canadian company Pan American Silver, has been suspended since June 2017, first from direct community action, and then a month later, a decision by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court to suspend the project pending a consultation of the Indigenous Xinka people impacted by the project. However, this latest attempt to enter materials into the mine could be seen as an attempt to provoke the peaceful resistance to the mining project and/or an attempt to continue mineral extraction despite the Constitutional Court suspension. The communities continue to express their peaceful opposition to the Escobal Mine and remain in 24 hour encampments at two roads leading to the project. 

Luis Fernando Garcia, representative of the Xinka Parliament and survivor of the 2014 shooting of peaceful protestors outside the Escobal Mine, travelled to Vancouver and Victoria, BC in November to meet with organizations in the home of the headquarters of Pan American Silver. Garcia also met with coffee roasters who are currently purchasing coffee from Cafe Colis Resistencia, a group of coffee producers from the Mataquescuintla resistance to the Escobal mine. The speaking tour looked to build a base of resistance to Pan American Silver in BC. For more information about the speaking tour, check out this article in the Tyee