Source: Waging Non-Violence
For three years the communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have struggled against the construction of a gold mine in their communities. The La Puya resistance has maintained their opposition in the face of criminalization and violence, but they have finally won a major victory.
On July 15, Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez, an appeals court judge, ruled in favor of the nonviolent community resistance. The judge ordered Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, or KCA, to suspend the construction of all infrastructure projects at their El Tambor mine outside San Jose del Golfo.
She found that the company was operating illegally, because it had failed to perform a proper consultation of the communities affected by the project, and that they had failed to obtain any permits for the projects. She ordered that they had 15 days to cease all projects at the mining site, and requires the municipality to take steps to ensure the end of construction of infrastructure.
The mining firm’s lawyers argued that they had obtained the proper permits, and that a consultation had occurred. But the judge saw through the firm’s bluff.
For the communities, the court’s decision gives them further energy to continue in their struggle to defend their water and environment.
“There has been a lot of struggle and pain,” said Antonio Rez, a member of the La Puya resistance. “Now we are never going to stop.”
Following the court’s decision, the community and their supporters held a celebration organized by the Guatemala City based collective Festivales Solidarios, complete with piñatas and live music at the community’s permanent encampment at the entrance to the mine. It was a festive atmosphere as members of the peaceful resistance opened up their space to visitors and musicians from across Guatemala, Nicaragua, Canada, Venezuela and the United States.
“We knew we had a social reason to struggle, and an environmental reason,” Rez said. “But now, a judge has said that we are justified in protesting peacefully.”