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guatemala: creating a toolkit for community consultations on mining

Mining is having a devastating and worsening impact on the environment and people’s livelihoods and culture in Guatemala, but the government still plans to expand mining activity. This dire situation is compounded by the fact that there is a lack of accessible information on the impacts of mining and how communities can resist it. As a result many people are influenced by propaganda which portrays mining as being beneficial to development.

guatemala: creating a toolkit for community consultations on mining

FoE Guatemala has been promoting community referendums on mining concessions, where more than 600,000 persons in 31 municipalities have already voted to stop the entry of corporations for mining exploration and exploitation. The majority of the people participating in these consultations are women.

 

what happened?

Friends of the Earth Guatemala / CEIBA produced a popular education publication based on their experiences of conducting a major community consultation on gold mining in the department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, in 2007.

 

As well as information gathered through the community consultation process, the document included  comprehensive information on mining compiled by a team of university academics. Contents included information about the way licenses were granted to mining companies in Huehuetenango; the process of building informed and active community networks; the organization, logistical and political work carried out with the mayors of 11 municipalities; the design of consultation tools; the legal dimension of the process; and the educational materials used to feed the process.

 

A draft of the document was reviewed through discussions with the communities and academics involved in its production, and the decision was made to put together a toolkit for communities engaged in the defense of their territory.

 

2,000 copies of the publication La Ruta del Oro were printed and distributed among communities preparing their own consultation processes in Huehuetenango, Izabal, Quiché, San Marcos, Chimaltenango, Sacatepequez and in southeastern Mexico.

 

The toolkit was launched at an event in the capital city, attended by civil society organizations, members of the communities that participated in the consultations and officials from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources. The launch was covered by national newspapers, TV and radio. Copies of the document were sent to civil society organizations all over the country.

 

what changed?

The project established mining as a critical issue on the agenda of civil society organizations at the national level, and was influential in turning public opinion against mining. It has also made it much easier for groups to access relevant information about the mining of metals.

 

what next?

The communities’ consultation process and the information made available in the publication will be key inputs to FoEI’s new Extractives Program. FoE Guatemala is looking for support to translate the publication into English, so that this rich experience can be shared with FoE groups from other regions.

 

with thanks to our funders:  the dutch ministry of foreign affairs (dgis)

 

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