Clashes between police and indigenous people opposing Swiss mining company in Guatemala

Guatemalan police and indigenous people opposed to a Swiss mining company that was maintaining a closed road in the northeast of the country clashed on Saturday, in a fresh attempt by security forces to drive them out, in which an officer was shot. .

The confrontation took place in the municipality of Elster, about 155 km northeast of the capital, a day after police expelled dozens of indigenous Maya Qigji residents with tear gas, who returned hours later to their position on the road.

Police spokesman Jorge Aguilar told reporters that the initial report was that an officer was hit with a “firearm” in the leg.

“My position is to bring them a state of dialogue so that they can be heard, but we need freedom of movement,” Hector Alarcón, the governor of Isabel county to which Elstair belongs, said before the operation began. Video posted by the media community press in social networks.

Pictures and videos posted by the outlet showed policemen removing tree branches and other objects that had been placed to block the road, and riot police firing gas.

Indigenous communities have been on the road since 4 October “in resistance” by denouncing that Compañía Guatemalaalteca de Níquel, a subsidiary of the Swiss company Solway Investment Group, is maintaining operations despite the fact that justice has ordered its suspension while the government is being consulted social.

The group that opposes the mining company, saying it causes environmental damage, also denounced that the Ministry of Energy and Minerals did not take it into account in the process that will lead to the referendum.

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Before the evacuation, a native who covered his face with a mask indicated that the intent of the security forces, among these soldiers, was to allow the passage of gondolas and trucks for the company.

In June 2020, the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest judicial body, halted CGN’s operations to accept the claim of indigenous communities who denounced the lack of consultation on mineral exploitation on their lands.

The court determined that the government had ignored Convention No. 169 of the International Labor Organization on Prior, Free and Informed Consultation with the local population, as well as non-compliance with the Environmental Impact Study for the area, which it had ordered a referendum on. to hold society.

The mining company began operations in 2014, three years after Solway acquired the rights, after rehabilitating and rebuilding the industrial complex dating back to the late 1970s and operating sporadically.

hma / lda

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