Guatemala: Indigenous people and affected communities face reprisals for defending their water sources against mining companies
Author: Counter Punch, Published on: 3 April 2020
“Guatemalan Water Protectors Persist, Despite Mining Company Threats”, 1st April 2020
…The hard work of protecting water and land from the long-term harms associated with gold and silver mining takes place daily on the frontlines of tenacious struggles throughout Latin America and around the world.
Indigenous people and affected communities face many reprisals for their resistance, including a mounting number of arbitration suits against their governments from mining companies suing over projects that people have managed to halt through direct action and in the courts…
Local residents living in the “dry corridor,” as this area is known, are concerned that gold mining would aggravate water shortages and contaminate water supplies with arsenic and heavy metals, putting people, plants, and animals at risk…
The international arbitration system does not take into consideration the long-term impacts that these mining projects could have on the water, lands, livelihoods, and values that these communities are defending. Meanwhile, arbitration processes can bring terrible pressure to bear from outside on these local struggles, serving as yet another vehicle with which mining companies can bully their way around in defiance of people´s self-determination and the sovereignty of states.
But just as water protectors press on against tough odds to defend land and life from the onslaught of mining projects, so must we continue to build solidarity with them and strengthen efforts to bring an end to investor-state dispute arbitration and the agreements that hold it in place.
[Companies mentioned in article: Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, Junefield Mining Resources, Hunan Gold Group, Gabriel Resources]