Courtesy of NISGUA:
The Xinca parliament and the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa, and Jutiapa spoke out in a press conference on February 21 against attempts by Tahoe Resources to generate conflict in their communities. The company, whose Escobal mine has been legally suspended since July, “insists on visiting communities to try to coerce people to accept its project” despite the countless public expressions of community opposition. At the press conference, the Resistance denounced the Guatemalan media for its misleading and defamatory coverage of opposition movements in the region, “using language that seeks to criminalize social protest.” This media coverage has significant impacts on the communities organizing to protect their lands from mining who, since 2011, have faced multiple acts of state violence and efforts by the company to criminalize its leaders as a strategy to undermine opposition.
The Xinca Parliament and the Peaceful Resistance believe that media strategies of sensationalizing organizing efforts in the region is part of a broader attempt to influence the outcome of the legal case that has led to the mine’s suspension. The Guatemalan Constitutional Court is currently tasked with determining if the Xinca People’s right to free, prior, and informed consent was violated by the Ministry of Energy and Mining in granting the Escobal license – a decision that could close the mine permanently.
On March 7, nearly five months after the case came under its jurisdiction, the Court ordered academic and state institutions to provide them with anthropological studies regarding the presence of indigenous Xinca people in the municipality where the mine is located. In response to the court’s request, the Xinca Parliament’s legal counsel, Quelvin Jiménez, stated, “It is not up to the Constitutional Court to decide if we, the Xinca people, exist or not. This is not a disputed fact. According to jurisprudence set by the Inter-American Court, no court has the right to place in doubt the self-identification of a people. According to the same jurisprudence, as Indigenous people, we have the right to free, prior, and informed consent over large projects – like the Escobal mine – that impact our lives and territory.”