This holiday season, communities affected by Tahoe Resources’ Escobal Mine will be sleeping outside, weathering the cold at two resistance camps. The first, in the community of Casillas, has been active since June. Seven communities take 24-hour shifts, and stop any mine related traffic, while regular traffic flows as usual. The resistance in Casillas has effectively stopped operations at the mine for the past seven months through direct action. Riot police attempted to evict the encampment in late June.
A second encampment was set up in Guatemala City in November; community members have been waiting for a decision from the Constitutional Court on discrimination against the indigenous Xinka people, whose existence was denied by the Ministry of Energy and Mines when granting the Escobal exploitation license in 2013. Both the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court have ruled that the Xinka people need to be consulted, and there was also a decision to suspend mine operations until these consultations are held. This suspension was welcomed by community members, but was then overturned by the Guatemalan Supreme Court; a decision on the appeal is pending. Community members are hoping their presence outside the Constitutional Court will pressure the court to come out with a decision.
These two resistance camps and the court decisions to suspend the mine have had a major effect on Tahoe Resources. Shares in the company have dropped 40% and the company has engaged in a smear campaign against the resistance.
BTS staff have visited the resistance, met with Canadian officials, as well as contributed to advocacy documents. In December, staff spoke about the situation of communities affected by the Escobal mine at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights in Washington during a hearing related to Canada (video here).