Pan American Silver pushes to end community interference in Guatemala
More recently, on April 14, unknown assailants fire at the home of one of the representatives of Xinka elected to participate in the consultation. This follows an assassination attempt in January against the leader of the community, Julio González, as well as death threats against members of the community.
Although Pan American Silver does not currently extract minerals at the Escobal mine, it continues to operate in Xinka communities. According to its 2019 sustainability report, the company “engages with community leaders, government agencies and NGOs.”
In September 2020, the company announced the launch of a “participatory monitoring program” in the town where the mine is located. In response to a letter sent to the Guatemalan authorities and signed by nearly 200 organizations concerned by the recent attacks and threats against defenders, Pan American Silver wrote that it was continuing “its community relations activities to meet existing commitments …”
While such community activities may seem trivial to an outside observer, Guatemala’s Xinka Parliament and the Peaceful Resistance movement have denounced the company’s community work as coercive, in violation of the “free” nature of consultation and freedom. the suspension order of the Constitutional Court, and one of the main drivers of the increase in tensions and violence. In their October 2020 joint statement with the Department of Energy and Mines – the authority responsible for the consultation process – officials agreed to inform Pan American Silver that the Xinka view the company’s activities as acts of bad faith which threaten the integrity of the consultation. . Nonetheless, Pan American Silver has so far failed to acknowledge and act in response to Xinka’s demands that the company suspend all community relations activities to do its part to preserve its right to freely and safely participate in the consultation process.
The Escobal mine has been suspended for almost four years. The consultation process did not move from 2018 to 2020 due to illegalities and discrimination against the Xinka until October 2020, when the government finally agreed to accept the Xinka-appointed delegates to the consultation process. The pre-consultation process, during which the consultation procedure will be determined, is currently scheduled to begin on May 21.
On May 11, an online forum will explore the nefarious legacy of Pan American Silver with the participation of the Xinka Parliament of Guatemala, as well as affected peoples from Mexico to Argentina.