Article published today about the escalating violence in Guatemala, near Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine project. The article highlights how there is great reason to fear that the suspension of constitutional rights under the State of Siege leaves community leaders and mining opponents vulnerable to (even more) unchecked violence and repression.
[From the article by Sandra Cuffe:]
Security at the Escobal project site, mid April 2013. Credit: Resistencia Pacifica El Escobal / Upside Down World
…. Fifty miles southeast of the capital, private security guards working for Vancouver-based mining firm Tahoe Resources shot and wounded several local residents on Saturday in San Rafael Las Flores, on the road in front of Tahoe’s El Escobal silver mine. The mining company’s head of security was arrested while attempting to flee the country. A police officer and a campesino were killed during conflicts earlier this week. Through it all, demonstrations against the mining project have continued amid conflicting reports and government misinformation.
Following a Cabinet meeting late last night, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina declared a 30-day State of Siege in four municipalities around the El Escobal mining project: San Rafael Las Flores and Casillas in the department of Santa Rosa, and Jalapa and Mataquescuintla in the department of Jalapa. The measure is in effect as of today. Initial reports indicated that the constitutional rights suspended include freedom of movement, freedom of assembly and protest, and certain rights of detainees and prisoners.
Even before the measure was declared, communities were denouncing army mobilization in the region last night. When he announced the State of Siege, Pérez Molina stated that security forces reported for duty at three military bases last night and that operatives would begin early this morning.
“We fear for the lives of our leaders,” stated a message circulated online by the Xinka People’s Parliament, denouncing the mobilization of armed forces in Jutiapa with the alleged intention of arresting Xinka leaders in Santa María Xalapán, Jalapa. “We’re returning to the 1980s, with the persecution of leaders, extrajudicial execution and forced disappearance.”….. View the full article, with photos, here.