Otto Perez Molina’s administration in Guatemala seems to be trying to get rid of the human rights abuses accusations by committing more violence and atrocities. A state of emergency was recently declared in four municipalities that resist Canadian mining corporation San Rafael.
The measure, adopted exactly a month after a similar decision was taken at Santa Cruz Barillas municipality to repress the resistance to the building of a dam by a Spanish corporation, affects San Rafael Las Flores and Castillas, in Santa Rosa, Xelajpán and Maraquescuintla municipalities in Jalapa and will last for 30 days.
Eric Hernández, of CEIBA-Friends of the Earth Guatemala told Real World Radio in a phone interview that the municipalities are strongly militarized and that the measure is the result of the resistance to a mining project that threatens the communities.
However, the Guatemalan government has argued the presence of drug dealers and paramilitaries, which in Eric’s opinion is an “excuse to repress”.
Two weeks ago the Guatemalan government authorized San Rafael mine to begin an “underground mining” exploitation project to extract silver, despite the rejection of the communities affected. San Rafael mine is a subsidiary of Canadian corporation Tahoe Resources.
The people have rejected the mine in the area, as well as the system to distribute royalties. Last Monday twenty police officers were arrested and unarmed by the local residents.
The security forces reportedly entered the communities with assault military vehicles, causing widespread panic among the residents.
Last year private employees of the corporation were arrested in Santa Cruz Barillas without charges or evidence brought against them.
Pérez Molina is responsible for crimes against humanity in the ongoing trial of former dictator Efrain Rios Montt. Therefore, the organizations that support the resisting communities link the recent authoritative measure with the trial.
La oposición a la minería debe entenderse como la lucha por los derechos que esa actividad no respeta, pues “cada derecho que se le otorga a una empresa, es un derecho que se le resta a una comunidad”, asegura el coordinador del Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), César Padilla.
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