Police threaten violence against residents peacefully opposing Tahoe Resources’ Escobal Mine

URGENT ACTION NEEDED:

Since June 7th, communities living near Tahoe Resources’ mine in southeastern Guatemala have been peacefully protesting the constant tremors they believe are the result of mining activities, the daily heavy truck traffic, mounting environmental impacts, and the lack of respect for the 18 municipal and community referenda rejecting the project. Hundreds of community members from six surrounding municipalities are maintaining an around-the-clock human blockade of mine-related traffic on the highway to the mine near the town of Casillas.

On June 21st, the Casillas Police Commander sent a letter to the head of the local health department warning them that “All options have been exhausted and in any moment we we will have to use public force, during which time we will use tear gas…” The unusual notice is part of a strategy to discredit the movement by implying that public institutions could be negatively affected, ignoring that the protest is only blocking mine traffic.

Police have now been mobilized to the area and community members fear a violent eviction is imminent. Local residents have already been victims of brutal repression and militarization for their opposition to the project. In April 2013, Tahoe’s private security shot into a crowd of peaceful protestors outside the mine entrance injuring seven men. In May 2013, hundreds of police and military flooded the region and dozens of arrest warrants were issued when the government declared a state of siege. Some one hundred people have had to face legal persecution, including several who spent months in jail before being released without charge. Finally, Tahoe has a documented track record of pressuring for state intervention when faced with non-violent, organized opposition.

Take action to demand Guatemalan authorities to meaningfully and respectfully respond to the demands of peaceful protesters in Casillas, refrain from using violence, and uphold the right to non-violent protest.

  • Call the Ministry of the Interior (in Spanish) at 011 - 502 - 2413 - 8888 and urge them to refrain from evicting peaceful demonstrators, particularly with the use of excessive police force
  • Add your name to a pre-written letter or write your own, directed towards the Ministry of the Interior, the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office, and the Attorney General.