More Mining Abuse in Guatemala

Source: Prensa Libre

I remain so outraged by  the case of the University of Valle students who died mysteriously near the El Estor nickel mine that I stopped bringing up several issues that deserve attention, like the extinction of the white nun orchid and the black rhino; real tragedies for the human race. Just like the loss of this wonderful orchid and majestic mammal, thousands of animals and plants disappear from the face of the earth every year as a result of human actions, and yet none of this seems to astound us.

We have accelerated the natural rate of extinction of species between a thousand and ten thousand times. Each of these losses makes the intricate web that sustains life on our planet more fragile. That is dangerous, and it makes Homo sapiens more vulnerable.

A related issue, and relevant to all people on Earth, is the latest and most grim report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This definitive report should have caused a wave of global concern. The future seems increasingly difficult due to misinformation, the addiction to fossil fuels and the wasteful consumption of developed countries. At the national level, our leaders would be wise to read the IPCC report – although it seems unlikely that they will – as it outlines very significant and grave scenarios for Guatemala due to climate change: “Indirectly, the risk of violent conflict in the form of civil war and between communities may increase due to the amplifying of factors known to instigate conflict such as poverty and economic disruption.”

An important event that occurred lately and went rather unnoticed, is the request made by the Council of the Maya-Sipakapense, on March 25th, to the Third Civil Chamber, to cancel the Los Chocoyos mining license that the General Director of Mining of the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MEM) granted to EntreMares – which means to Goldcorp – on April 30, 2012. They still look to the justice system to resolve disputes! Because, again, [by granting this license] the Government of Guatemala cynically violated the rights of indigenous people in Sipakapa where, in 2005, the famous consultation took place in which 99% of people said NO to mining on their territory, as the land is legally registered to them in Xela. This is a new abuse perpetrated against vulnerable Guatemalan citizens by government officials for the benefit of Canadian mining corporations, even if the Third Chamber corrects MEM’s mistake.

Those who want to convert Guatemala into mining country – against the will of the majority of the population that opposes it – should reflect on the disaster they are building. People need water and energy to survive. Mining demands water – which it leaves contaminated – and lots of energy. Thanks to climate change there will be more and more drought. This will produce new conflicting interests; and all will be deeper and more violent. What will happen when there is no clean water in our country? Who will protect the State of Guatemala? Beware! For then, it will be too late to lament our loss.