We repudiate the actions of the National Civil Police (PNC) and tear gas attacks against members of Maya Q’eqchi´ communities from the municipality of El Estor, who organized a peaceful resistance to show their disagreement with the operations of the Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN-PRONICO) mining project.
Likewise, we condemn the state of emergency decreed by the Executive to justify the increase in police presence and the use of state resources to provide security for a mining company prohibited to lawfully operate [in the region].
The communities are denouncing the government’s lack of consultation process about the mine’s operations, as ordered by the Constitutional Court through a previous ruling. The consultation process is the responsibility of the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM).
We condemn the government’s unwillingness to open a space of dialogue with the communities that are defending their territories from irreparable damage caused by mining operations. Héctor Alarcon, governor of the department of Izabal, intervened too late in the process.
We regret the deployment of six hundred police forces to repress people in peaceful resistance, with tactical equipment and tear gas bombs. The only benefactor of these attacks against the community, and the reopening of a highway which had been blockaded for seventeen days by community members calling for their demands to be heard, was the mining project. This situation was witnessed and verified via photographs and mobile transmissions, thanks to the committed work carried out by community journalists in the region, in the absence of corporate media.
To the Public Ministry: to launch an investigation on the actions ordered by the Ministry of the Interior, which affected people who lived in the area but were not involved in the situation. Due to the proximity of their homes to the site where the resistance was located, several families were affected and suffered intoxication caused by the use of tear gas.
To the Ministry of Energy and Mines: to adhere to the Constitutional Court’s ruling and launch a consultation process on the operations of the mine without excluding the Maya Q’eqchi communities.
To the National Civil Police: to cease the repression against the population that have organized to defend the natural resources of those territories that ancestrally belong to them. To direct their efforts to combat crime and criminal acts such as those committed on October 19 by former soldiers who attacked the national Congress, damaging facilities and vehicles.
We ask the general population not to turn a deaf ear to acts that affect communities and to speak out against government actions that benefit companies operating megaprojects.
We recognize the solidarity of indigenous peoples, social organizations, and national citizen groups who have, without hesitation, urgently expressed their solidarity through political actions and pronouncements.
We support the work of those journalists who have been working and were also attacked by state security forces, in particular the efforts of Ana Chen, a community journalist with the Jun Na’oj Indigenous Women Communicators Network, who followed closely and covered the events that took place on October 23.
Guatemala, October 2021