On the morning of Saturday, January 16, Julio Gonzalez was shot by unknown assailants in his home in an assasination attempt. Julio is an extraordinary young man. He was one of the first people who spoke out against the Escobal mine in Mataquescuintla, now owned by Canadian company Pan American Silver. For this, he has faced criminalization charges, constant defamation and even physical attacks at the hands of supporters of the project. However, his opposition to the project has been resolute despite the many threats and attacks against him.
Julio is in hospital and his condition is being kept confidential for his and his family’s security. This latest attack is only one in a long line of attacks against community members who oppose the Escobal project. Topacio Reynoso, a 16 year old activist also from Mataquescuintla, was killed in an assassination attempt in 2014. Her father survived the attack. He, along with another group of community leaders was shot again in 2015 but survived. We believe 14 people have been killed due to their opposition to this project. If you would like to donate to the emergency fund in support of Julio’s medical fund, you can do so here.
Over 190 organizations, including BTS, have signed onto a letter of concern demanding an investigation into the attack on Julio and calling for Pan American Silver to cease community relations work which are only increasing tensions in the region. The Xinka people of Mataquescuintla are currently involved in the consultation process facilitated by the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines for the free prior and informed consent of the Escobal mine. For more information on this process you can visit resistescobal.com.