Regional News

The Peaceful Resistance of La Puya fights for the right to water

Brent Patterson - RABBLE

pbilapuya2Residents from the communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc -- an area known as La Puya -- have been fighting against the Progreso VII Derivada-El Tambor gold mine located just north of Guatemala City since March 2010.

The Peaceful Resistance of La Puya, which is made up of members from these communities, has stated, "[The environmental impact assessment] shows that the gold and silver are contained in arsenopyrite rock, which contains high levels of arsenic. Levels of arsenic in the water increased considerably during the time the mine was in operation."

They have also expressed concern about the massive amount of water the mine would use in their water-scarce region.

Their struggle to defend water has seen a blockade of the mine site, repression and criminalization, a win at the Guatemalan Supreme Court, and now a challenge at the Washington, D.C.–based World Bank Group's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

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Criminalization of the Aymara People - Supreme Court Will Decide on Aduviri Case on October 5th.

Press Release

Criminalization of the Aymara People - Supreme Court Will Decide on Aduviri Case on October 5th.

20th September 2018  Cochabamba, Ottawa, Puno, Washington. On Monday September 17th at 0900, a hearing took place at the Supreme Court in Lima, Peru to analyze the case of Walter Aduviri, the last Aymara spokesperson charged in relation to the case known as the Aymarazo. The Court must decide whether or not to annul the 7-year sentence against him.

Aduviri's lawyers and representatives of the Ministry of the Interior were present at the hearing. The hearing lasted for an hour and a half, after which it was revealed that the final sentence will be handed down on October 5th, 2018 at 0830.

The indigenous representative is currently in hiding because there is a warrant for his arrest.

More than one hundred national and international organizations have publicly denounced the criminalization of protest in Peru.  The case of Aduviri is emblematic of the widespread judicial persecution and generalised criminalization faced by spokespersons and representatives of communities that organize to defend their territories against extractive projects. This international alliance will be watching the final stages of this case very closely.  According to representatives of Human Rights and Environment (DHUMA) of Puno, Peru, the decision that will be presented by the court will be very significant, as it will set important legal precedents for the future of human rights in Peru.


On October 4th, 2018, Puno-based organization Human Rights and Environment-DHUMA will receive the Institute for Policy Studies’ Letelier-Moffitt international Human Rights Award in Washington D.C..  Members of the organization will be present to accept the award which is presented annually in memorium of fallen human rights defenders Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt. More information about this event can be found here:


More than one hundred organizations reject the unjust payment of USD $31 million to Canadian mining company Bear Creek

Groups call for the annulment of sentence against Aymara spokesperson in the Peruvian Supreme Court

Puno, Cochabamba, Washington, Ottawa, September 13th, 2018


More than one hundred organizations call for the annulment of sentence against Aymara spokesperson in the Peruvian Supreme Court and reject the unjust payment of USD $31 million to Canadian mining company Bear Creek.  

In recent weeks, international organizations from five continents have endorsed a public sign-on letter entitled:Stop the Criminalization of Social Protest and Corporate Impunity in Peru!! The initiative was promoted by local organization Human Rights and Environment – DHUMA of Puno (a member of the Peruvian National Coordinator of Human Rights – CNDDHH and of the MUQUI Network), in alliance with international organizations such as the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) of Washington D.C. , The Democracy Center in Bolivia and MiningWatch Canada.

The Sign-On Letter, supported in total by 131 Peruvian and international civil society organizations, urges the Supreme Court to annul the sentence against Walter Aduviri.  Aduviri was sentenced to 7 years in prison and ordered to pay more than USD$600,000 in damages, for alleged crimes committed during the socio-environmental conflict known as the “Aymarazo” in 2011.

On September 17th, 2018, the Peruvian Supreme Court will hear Aduviri’s appeal in Lima. According to the Sign-On Letter, if the Supreme Court does not annul the sentence, they will be setting harsh precedents for the defense of territory and human rights in Peru. It goes on:  “We are disturbed to note a growing tendency towards deepening criminalisation. The abusive imposition of penal processes against social organisation leaders and communities via a distorted use of criminal offenses (such as aggravated extortion and Indirect Perpetration) is particularly worrying. Such wilful misinterpretation of the law seeks to equate social organisations with criminal groups and their spokespeople with instigators of crime. As such it represents a grave attack on human rights; on freedom of expression; and on social mobilisation”.

The case dates back to 2011, when communities in the Puno region mobilized against the Santa Ana mining project, owned by the Canadian company Bear Creek. The mobilization demanded the cancellation of the project due to the risk of contamination of their water sources (including Lake Titicaca, shared by Peru and Bolivia); the lack of consultation of local communities; questions around the legality of the project; a lack of transparency; and the company’s negotiating in bad faith with the communities. After protests were repressed, the government finally canceled the project. However, the Prosecutor’s Office of Puno initiated criminal proceedings against the main spokespersons, which led to the conviction of Walter Aduviri in December 2017.

The Sign-On Letter was delivered to the Peruvian Supreme Court on 5th September last. The official delivery of the document by human rights defender Yolanda Flores, representing the organization Human Rights and Environment – DHUMA, Puno, was broadcast live. Flores was accompanied by other defenders from Cajamarca, Selva Central, Cusco and Puno, as well as representatives of the National Coordinator of Human Rights – CNDDHH, who held a sit-in in front of the Palace of Justice.

On Tuesday 11th September, in the city of Puno, a press conference was held in which the father of Walter Aduviri, Pablo Aduviri, with tears in his eyes, addressed the media demanding that the Supreme Court of Justice and the Government of Peru free his son from the unjust sentence. “My son cannot go to jail, my son is not a thief, he is not corrupt, he is not a murderer,” he said, lamenting the great hardships that this process has brought on his entire family.

Also present was Patricio Illacutipa Illacutipa, one of the other people prosecuted following the Aymarazo, who said that they are continuously labelled as “radicals, anti-mining, anti-system, anti-development” and that this is outrageous.  “I personally have been psychologically destroyed for 8 years. Right now I’m fighting to get my family back,” he said, referring to the consequences of being criminalized in this way.

Illacutipa is now President of the Natural Resources Defense Front of Southern Puno. In his contribution he also rejected the payment of a multi-million dollar compensation that Bear Creek demands from Peru for the cancellation of its project in 2011. This was the result of a case that the company filed against the country at ICSID, the investment arbitration arm of the World Bank, in 2014.  In December 2017, the same month in which the courts of “justice” condemned Aduviri, ICSID ruled in favor of Bear Creek and ordered Peru to pay more than USD$30 million in compensation, including legal fees and interest.

Recent popular mobilizations have had an impact: Congress has stalled a bill proposing payment of US$31 million to the Canadian Bear Creek Mining Corporation as compensation for the 2011 “Aymarazo”. Last Thursday September 8th, the Budget Commission voted against article 13 of the 03121-2017 bill. According to an interview he gave with Telesur. Oracio Pacori Mamami, a lawmaker from Puno and head of the Commission, warned Congress about the social upheaval that passing such a bill would trigger. “We have warned the Economy Minister about this danger and that’s why this payment has been suspended”, Pacori Mamami said.

This compensation is considered absurd and unjust by Peruvians involved in the struggle, and this sentiment was echoed at Tuesday’s press conference in Puno. “The Peruvian people have no reason to pay. Apart from the fact that they [the company] has violated collective rights and the constitution, now the company wants to be paid? We will never allow that. The people will have to rise up once more and a second Aymarazo will occur”, said Illacutipa. On the contrary, he affirmed that it is Bear Creek who should compensate the people and the communities for provoking this conflict and causing losses in their economic activities during the days of mobilization.

Rodrigo Lauracio, who was present at the conference on behalf of DHUMA, also expressed his rejection of the ICSID ruling. “Bear Creek mining company demands compensation, but the people who have been criminalised and who have been prosecuted … there is no compensation for them. Seven years of attending hearings, of emotional and reputational damages….who has compensated them?”, he said.

Other representatives who were also present from RED MUQUI SUR, The Democracy Center and the Institute for the Study of Andean Cultures – IDECA Peru, stressed that the case of Walter Aduviri is not an isolated case. It is, they noted, another link in the chain of the extractivist/developmentalist model imposed by the State that seeks to dispossess indigenous communities of their resources and their territory in favor of the interests of multinational companies. The criminal proceedings, the stigmatization and de-legitimization of the struggles of the communities and their spokespeople, are used precisely to undermine social mobilization in protection of their territory in the face of the extractive whirlwind. Rodrigo Lauracio of DHUMA says, “We believe that the processes of criminalization are not limited just to legal cases, but also include smear campaigns and in some cases of defamation against spokespersons or representatives of indigenous communities. All this is part of a process of a broader trend of criminalization and stigmatization that communities face when they reject extractive projects that have not been consulted with indigenous peoples.”

The Sign-On Letter was also sent to the Canadian mining corporation Bear Creek. One of its demands is aimed directly at the corporation “We demand that Bear Creek Mining Corporation and the mining companies located mainly in southern Peru respect the rights and decisions of the communities in relation to the Santa Ana project and any other mining project throughout the country”.

For his part, Patricio Illacutipa, in his final contribution at the press conference, called on the population in general, and in particular to local communities, to prevent the entry of mining companies into their territories. “These extractive companies, plunderers of our natural resources, will never enter. We have to defend our land and territory, our natural resources, our water sources, because water is life [and] mining is death, “he said.


On October 4th, 2018, Puno-based organization Human Rights and Environment – DHUMA will receive the Institute for Policy Studies’ Letelier-Moffitt international Human Rights Award in Washington D.C..  Members of the organization will be present to accept the award which is presented annually in memorium of fallen human rights defenders Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt. More information about this event can be found here:

DHUMA -Human Rights and Environment (Derechos Humanos y Medio Ambiente)

The Democracy Center

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)

MiningWatch Canadá


In Puno: Hernán Portobravo (+51 999 065 983) /

In Bolivia: Thomas McDonagh (+591 72915035) /

In Washington: Manuel Pérez Rocha (1-240-838-6623) /

In Ottawa:  Kirsten Francescone (+1 437 345-9881)) /

Guatemalan court upholds Tahoe mine suspension

By Sandra Cuffe: CIM Magazine

Tahoe Resources’ fiercely contested Escobal silver mine in Guatemala will remain idled for the time being.

Members of the regional mining resistance movement inspect a truck at a roadside action in Casillas to make sure it does not carry material or supplies destined for the Escobal mine. Sandra CuffeOn Monday, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court upheld the suspension of the Nevada-based company’s mining licence, pending consultation with Indigenous Xinca residents of the surrounding area.

Tahoe Resources subsidiary Minera San Rafael had argued that Xinca people were not from the affected area, so there was no need for Indigenous consultation. Anthropological studies ordered by the court refuted that claim.

The court ordered the country’s Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) to carry out consultation immediately in compliance with the International Labor Organization’s Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.

“At this time, the Company does not have a timeline for completion of MEM’s ILO 169 consultation. However, in the similar case of OXEC [a hydroelectric dam project that the ministry was also ordered to conduct consultation for], MEM completed the consultation within six months,” Tahoe said in a statement Monday.

Tahoe did not respond to a CIM Magazine request for comment, but said in its statement that it would have further updates after the constitutional court issued a “formal resolution.”

According to the ruling, Escobal’s licence will only remain suspended until consultation is completed. After that, it is implied that operations may resume regardless of the outcome of the consultation process.

“Consultation should be seen as an intercultural dialogue in good faith, in which consensus and the reciprocal accommodation of the parties’ legitimate interests is sought,” noted the Constitutional Court ruling.

Juan Castro, a Guatemalan lawyer with the Bufete para Pueblos Indígenas, a law firm for Indigenous peoples, was critical of the consultation standards laid out in the ruling and what he considered the disregard for the principle of free, prior and informed consent.

“What we interpret is that they maintain that it is not necessary to obtain consent and that, instead, the result of the consultation is not binding,” Castro told CIM Magazine.

“The licence is suspended, but once they fulfill the consultation requirement the company can continue operating,” he said. “The tendency is to convert consultation into a simple requirement, as they have done in Peru.”

The Guatemalan government suspended its mining licence in July 2017 in response to the lawsuit against the MEM.  

Located a 75-kilometre drive southeast of Guatemala City in San Rafael las Flores, in the Santa Rosa department, the mine, which started up in early 2014, was fast-tracked to production, moving from a preliminary economic assessment to commercial production in less than two years. In 2016 it produced over 21 million ounces of silver, making it one of the largest primary silver producers in the world. Conflict, violent confrontations and protests, however, have plagued the project.

“We do it for the children,” Máximo Abrego, a 79-year-old grandfather from Casillas, a town a few kilometres southwest of the mine, told CIM Magazine after the ruling. Abrego was one of the people from the regional resistance movement who have been camped out near the court in Guatemala City. Community members from the region around the mine have maintained a permanent presence outside the court since late last year. Residents are fighting to protect the water and land from pollution, he said.

Casillas has been the site of a partial road-block for more than a year. Vehicles suspected of carrying materials to the mine are prevented from passing. 

Last month, residents of Mataquescuintla set up a similar roadblock along the highway north of the mine to prevent mine-related traffic from accessing the site from the other direction.

The road blocks will not end because of the court ruling, residents said.


Republished from:

Criminalisation brought to new extremes in case of Aymara indigenous communities in Peru

Thomas McDonagh and Aldo Orellana Lopez  : OPEN DEMOCRACY 

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court in Peru will decide the fate of Walter Aduviri, an indigenous spokesperson and aspiring politician for the local elections, convicted for his role in the 2011 Puno protests. 

In the next few weeks the Supreme Court in Lima, Peru, will decide the fate of Walter Aduviri, an indigenous Aymara community spokesperson convicted for his role in protests that took place in 2011 in the southern region of Puno.

The case has been going on for more than seven years but now in the final stretch it is being closely watched by social organisations, human rights lawyers and political analysts throughout the country because it could set two legal precedents with implications for many other struggles for indigenous and peasant rights.  

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Rural Communities’ Struggle Against US-Owned Mine Continues in Guatemalan Supreme Court


The long-running struggle of rural communities in Guatemala against the United States-based mining firm Kappes, Cassiday, and Associates (KCA) continues in Guatemala’s national courts. A recent investigation by the Guatemalan public ministry could come with criminal charges for executives of the controversial gold mine.

On May 27, the Guatemalan Public Ministry opened a criminal case against KCA’s subsidiary Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala S.A (EXMINGUA) as they investigate the failure of the company to comply with court orders to suspend operation at the mine in San José del Golfo. A week later, on June 6, the Public Ministry launched a series of raids against the company offices as part of their investigation. The investigators located 76 bags of concentrate of gold and silver from the mine that the company was illegally exporting, as well as a number of Mayan artifacts that the company had presumably uncovered at the mining site. The firm and its owners could also face charges for crimes against the environment.

The investigation follows a Guatemala’s Supreme Court decision on May 23, which stated that the mine in San José del Golfo was operating illegally.  The case continues the case brought against the mine by lawyers from the Center for Legal-Environmental and Social Action (CALAS), which argued that the mine is illegal, and that the license for the mine must be suspended immediately.

The advancement in the case stems from the February 22 decision by the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Guatemala, which confirmed the decision of a lower court and ordered the suspension of the license for exploitation for the controversial Progreso VII Mining Project, commonly known as El Tambor. Despite the court’s order, the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mining stated that they would not suspend the company’s license for exploitation. Furthermore, the company also stated that they would not suspend operations at the mine, and took to lengthy extents to export material.

Ignoring Consistent Pleas to Comply with the Rule of Law

The most recent Supreme Court’s ruling upholds a July 2015 ruling by a Court of Appeals judge, who agreed with the members of the peaceful resistance of La Puya, and determined that the mining company and the municipality violated the rights of the communities to a prior consultation, and ordered the mining firm to suspend the construction of infrastructure. The owner Daniel Kappes and the firm’s lawyer have argued that they held a consultation; but Judge Angelica Noemi Tellez Hernandez clearly states that the firm did not hold consultations with the affected communities in accords with the Guatemalan constitution and international Labor Organization’s Convention No. 169.

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