Defense of Territory

During the last days of a BTS Delegation in Guatemala in 2004, participants heard from environmentalists and concerned Guatemalans that Canadian mining company Glamis Gold was slated to open its Marlin Mine in the coming months, despite the grave concern of the local community, in particular the indigenous citizens of Sipakapa. Members of the delegation left Guatemala concerned about what they had heard about and were committed to finding out more. In January 2005, Raul Castro Bocel, an indigenous Kaqchikel man was killed when the mining company and the Guatemalan State pushed through a community blockade that was stopping mining equipment that was headed for the Marlin Mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacan.

In the weeks following the murder of Raul Castro Bocel, international attention turned to Guatemala. Catholic Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini organized a Peace March at the end of January in San Marcos, the department where the Marline Mine is located, demanding that communities affected by mining be consulted and listened to. Three years later, Bishop Ramazzini had his life threatened for speaking out against the mine and its negative environmental and social impacts. Though now the Bishop of Huehuetenango, a neighbouring department, he and others from the religious community and beyond continue to speak out against open pit gold mining, urging pension fund holders to divest from Goldcorp Inc. – the current owner of the Marlin Mine – due to ongoing human rights violations and reports of environmental contamination. Read a press release from March 2017 which highlights ongoing concerns by communities in resistance to the Marlin mine from the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos.

Since then, community groups, national organizations and the international community have spoken out against mining in Guatemala, arguing that indigenous communities were not respected in the process, and that did not give their free, prior and informed consent. International conventions and the Guatemlan constitution protect this right. Today, communities are organizing their own consultations, or referendums, and more than 1 milion people, both indigenous and mestizo, have come out to say, “No to Mining”. BTS respects the right of all communities to decide how all development happens in their territory.

BTS actively participates in national and international coalitions working on mining justice, in shareholder activism, participating in and facilitating opportunities for diaogue and exchange of communities impacted by transnational mining companies, observing community consultations, among other actions.