Mayans Vote Down Mine in Guatemala | Cultural Survival
Mayans Vote Down Mine in Guatemala
In a referendum on February 18, 99 percent of the population of the San Juan Ostuncalco municipality in Guatemala—a mostly Mam Mayan community—voted to oppose two mining concessions granted by the government on their territory. The people voting in the referendum demanded that the government cease issuing new mining concessions and revoke the existing ones. They also called on the government put into effect the so-called precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which called for the shutdown of the Marlin Mine in Sipacapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán municipalities. All of these mining concessions were given without any consultation with the Indigenous Peoples of the area, and all of them present severe environmental threats to the region. The referendum is especially notable because it is the product of considerable organization efforts on the part of Indigenous leaders to build consensus among various elements of their communities. Mining companies and other extractive industries routinely rely on a divide-and-conquer approach to Indigenous communities, offering payments and privilege to some members of the community in order to prevent consensus and to make it appear to authorities that the community is at least partly in favor of their operation. To read more about mining company tactics, click here. To read more about the Marlin mine in Guatemala, click here.