Written by: Maria Reyes and Indigo Christ
After multiple delays, the first meeting of the pre-consultation process for the Escobal mine was held at the Xinka Parliament’s offices in Cuilapa, Santa Rosa, on May 21st, 2021. The 59 Xinka representatives met with the Minister of Energy and Mines (MEM), executives from Vancouver-based mining company Pan American Silver, the Human Rights Ombudsperson, and the Minister of Environment and National Resources to discuss details for how the process would be carried out.
This marks an important development in the timeline of the mine, which has been suspended since June 2017 as a result of direct community action and the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the company had failed to consult with the Xinka people. Aleisar Arana, Huxi Harek (president) of the Xinka Parliament said, “it’s a very special day, one that we fought for, one that will remain as part of our history… Getting to this moment was a very difficult task… [through] four administrations of government. Since 2009 we have manifested and asked for the right to a consultation process.” The Xinka Parliament has consistently advocated for a consultation process that is rooted in good faith, mutual respect, transparency, and aligned with international standards.
In the first meeting, a number of agreements were jointly made, including naming the anthropologist who will carry out a study on the spiritual and cultural impacts of the mine, details on the communication and dissemination of information to Xinka communities, and the appointment of professionals supporting the consultation process.
At the second pre-consultation meeting, held on June 20th, the team that will carry out the cultural and spiritual impact study was presented, in addition to the methodology they will use. A number of agreements were made between the Xinka Parliament and the MEM, including:
- The proposed Cultural and Spiritual Impact team and methodology is accepted with some adjustments and additions to their work plans
- The Xinka Parliament requested that the information presented be provided in writing
- The Xinka Parliament will make recommendations or a counter-proposal to the methodology proposed for the consultation process by the MEM. For this, the Xinka Parliament can count on the support of the MEM team.
- The Xinka Parliament will present its proposal for advisors, according to the written information that will be provided to them.
- The next meeting will be on July 17th, 2021.