For the past nine months, men, women and children from San José del Golfo, San Pedro Ayampuc and their surrounding communities have maintained a constant, non-violent presence in protest of the onset of mining activities in their territories. Beginning on Tuesday, November 13, an estimated 70 people claiming to be mine employees arrived at the site of the blockade, demanding the right to work. The group attempted to provoke the population, and thus open the door for intervention from public and private security forces.
On the afternoon on November 22, 2012, mine personnel at the front of the counter blockade in San José del Golfo began launching death threats against independent media representing the Comite de Unidad Campesina (CUC), Waqib’ Kej and CPR-Urbana. Guatemala Indymedia Collective reported that a group of aggressive mine personnel began using threatening language, moving into the designated neutral zone in order to personally yell death threats.
The mine personnel, known locally as the “blue helmets,” reportedly threatened to lynch members of the independent media and social organizations. The aggressors stated that if aforementioned individuals and organizations continued to take photos, they would use violence against the peaceful blockade in order to enter the mine. There are reports that the threats moved beyond immediate violence, with mine personnel warning that they would use their own recordings to identify and retaliate against those participating in the peaceful resistance.
Testimonies from community members state there is strong evidence to suggest that those involved in the workers’ protest are being paid for their participation by Exmingua S.A., the Guatemalan subsidiary of the US company, Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA). The communities in resistance, social organizations and the independent media denounce the participation of the company in these acts of provocation, violence and intimidation.
At the time of this writing, hundreds of mine personnel, including at least one ex-military officer, continue to violently threaten the blockade in their attempts to forcefully enter the mine site. More than 200 people continue to maintain the pacific resistance, arms linked, often singing songs and saying prayers, as the company’s strategy of intimidation and provocation moves into its eighth day.
With information from: