This article was written by the Peace Brigades International- Canada Project
On December 21, PBI-Guatemala posted on Facebook: “Yesterday, #PBI accompanied the La Puya Peaceful Resistance to the Ministry of Energy and Mines to present the delegates for the pre-consultation stage on the El Tambor mining project.”
On March 2, 2012, residents from San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc – an area known as La Puya, just north of Guatemala City – set up a 24-hour blockade at the entrance of the Vancouver-based Radius Gold Inc. El Tambor mine.
By August 2012, the Canadian company sold El Tambor to US-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, but retained an economic interest in the mine (including quarterly royalty payments on the gold production from the mine).
On May 23, 2014, the communities in resistance to the mine were violently evicted by the police. Just prior to the eviction, Peaceful Resistance member Yolanda Oquelí appealed to the police as a PBI-Guatemala volunteer observed the exchange.
In February 2016, the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya won a Guatemalan Supreme Court ruling that provisionally suspended the mining license because there had not been prior consultation with affected communities, as is required under Guatemalan and international law, in particular the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169.
In December 2018, Kappes, Cassiday & Associates filed a $300 million claim with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank arbitration mechanism, claiming its investor rights under the Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) had been violated.
On May 21, 2021, the court suspension on the mine imposed in 2016 was lifted, but authorization for the mine to begin operation has not been granted.
In June 2022, Prensa Latina reported: “The Minister of Energy and Mines, Alberto Pimentel … stated that the Government will soon issue regulations for carrying out community consultations stipulated in Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO) on indigenous and tribal peoples.”
“In addition, the pre-consultation stage is being prepared for the Progreso VII Derivada Mining project, also known as El Tambor or La Puya.”
The article also noted: “[Pimentel] also announced that the National Mining Policy is being prepared [and] would be finished in 2023, since he wants to finish it before the change of government.”
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya since November 2012.