As multinational companies continue to seek licences for mineral exploitation in Guatemala, time and again local communities reject these initiatives in popular consultas comunitarias. Not only do they site the environmental damage that will be done to their lands, and the lack of any real economic benefit to the local community (with subsistence level wages paid, while profits are taken straight out the country, with minimal tax paid on them), but more fundamentally, they reject the very idea that the government can sell off what they deem as their land.
The most recent rejection of multinational mining took place in the municipality of Cunén, in the department of Quiché. For more, please see the press bulletin below:
CUNEN REJECTS MINING IN LOCAL TERRITORY
29 October 2009
Seventy-one communities [out of seventy-two] in the municipality of Cunén, department of Quiché, gathered in the center of each community to define the immediate future of the population now facing mineral exploration and exploitation licenses granted within their territory.
Both urban and rural communities were summoned for October 27 to define their official position regarding four mining exploration and exploitation licenses granted within the municipality. Projects approved for the area include “La Abundante” mine, as well as mineral extraction projects Yexub, ADD Minera and Chepenal.
The referendum was organized by the Cunén Community Council, the Community Development Councils, community and religious leaders, and local mayors, acting with the backing of a municipal agreement issued on September 23, 2009.
Community members started gathering in the center of each town early on [October 27] to declare their position before local authorities… national and international observers, social organizations and representatives of various indigenous communities in the country.