By: Maria Reyes, Consultant for communications support for the SAGE project 

Two years have passed since the Constitutional Court of Guatemala ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines to consult with the Xinka people regarding the Escobal mine and other extractive projects. 

The ruling from September 3rd, 2018, case file 4785-2017, affirmed the fight, organization, and identity of the Xinka People. This ruling marked an important precedent for all Indigenous peoples in Guatemala because it established that the Ministry of Energy and Mines could no longer grant licenses for hydroelectric and mining projects without respecting the right to free, prior and informed consultation as established in international agreements recognizing the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Additionally, the ruling held that community consultation processes must be carried out according to the forms of organization and/or customs of the Indigenous Peoples. 

To commemorate the historic ruling, the Xinka Parliament organized a series of virtual forums where they covered topics such as: Mining activity and its impact on the rights of Indigenous Peoples; The mining law in Guatemala and its implications for the rights of Indigenous Peoples; Environmental impacts; and, Advances, obstacles, and setbacks in the consultation of Indigenous Peoples.

With this series of forums, the Xinka Parliament brought awareness to the issue of  rights of Indigenous Peoples and shared experiences concerning the serious problems caused by extractive projects with other communities in Latin America. They also called for the Guatemalan government to carry out in good-faith a pre-consultation and consultation process that complies with national and international standards regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In the last forum entitled “Advances, obstacles and setbacks in the community consultation,” Xinka Parliament lawyer Quelvin Jimenez was asked about the minimum conditions that need to be met by the Guatemalan government so that the pre-consultation and consultation on the Escobal mine are in accordance with international standards (ie. established by ILO 169). Hear his response in these clips:

Two years after the historic ruling, the Xinka People and the communities engaged in Peaceful Resistance in Jalapa, Jutiapa, and Santa Rosa are still demonstrating their unity and ability to organize.