Guatemala is back in the news, and the news isn’t good. But while media coverage has focused on atrocities and the incursion of organized crime, a new oil rush is taking place in Petén, the same increasingly militarized northern area coveted by criminal groups.
Thousands of neighbors from San Rafael Las Flores and nearby communities in solidarity gathered on July 20th to protest the industrial mining project of El Escobal, operated by Canadian-US Tahoe Resources. In addition, locals demand that a neighbors’ consultation, be carried out to establish the people’s will regarding the project.
The Peoples’ International Health Tribunal, held in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala (July 14-15), will use community testimony, scientific research and human rights organization’s knowledge to examine how the presence of Goldcorp’s mining operations has affected community residents in Mesoamerica.
One generally overlooked feature of the Guatemalan government and military’s 36-year (1960-96) genocidal counterinsurgency campaign against the country’s Mayan population is the strategy of targeting women with violence.
As the conflict over educational reforms in Guatemala’s escuelas normales rages on, police violently evicted student protesters on July 2 from their occupation at Industry Park and various schools throughout Guatemala City, in an ongoing campaign to repress the movement. In the morning, reports described that four police squads detained up to eight students, while 12 more were sent to the hospital. Allegations of sexual aggression toward young female protesters also circulated via independent media outlets.
During the annual June 30th observance of Guatemalan Armed Forces Day, thousands of people marched in San Juan Sacatepéquez from their rural communities to the central square in rejection to the newly assigned military brigade in the municipality. Solidarity groups from throughout the country supported their resistance against the militarization of their territory and the grave social conflicts created by the cement-mining license approved in 2007 for the powerful Guatemalan Cementos Progreso company.
June 18 marked the second mobilization under the banner “We Are All Barillas” in the department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Hundreds of community members, indigenous leaders and supporters from throughout the region traveled seven hours outside of the department’s capital to declare that the community of Santa Cruz Barillas would not be intimidated.
On February 27th, 2012, The Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation began an exhumation process inside the former Military Garrison of Coban, one of the country’s largest cities. After three months of work in search of more victims from the internal armed conflict (1960-1996), forensic anthropologists have recovered close to 100 human corpses.
Barely 28 kilometers northeast from Guatemala City, community members from the municipalities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc, also within the Department of Guatemala, have blocked the entrance to the Tambor gold mine since March 2nd, 2012. The mining project, also known as Progreso 7 Derivada, belongs to Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala, S.A. (EXMINGUA), local subsidiary of Canadian junior mining company Radius Gold Inc.