Guatemala: Mayan Activists Protest Dirty Deeds of a Canadian Mining Giant

(I'm traveling and blogging from Guatemala right now, so expect a number of posts from me specific to this region. - XJ).

The excellent work of Guatemala-based photojournalist James Rodriguez has been featured on BB a number of times before. The most recent photo-essay on his blog documents a protest march that took place a few days ago in the capital here, carried out by indigenous people from San Miguel Ixtahuacan, where the Canadian mining giant Goldcorp operates the Marlin Gold Mine. Background here on the mine, and Goldcorp's campaign of harassment and intimidation of indigenous residents. Snip:

The movement, made up almost in its entirety by indigenous local Mam Mayans, reiterated their intention to pursue a peaceful dialogue so as to bring to a close Montana's mining activities in the region. As of now, three people have died due to the toxic contamination in the local water sources and other natural resources.

Gregoria Crisanta Perez, one of the 8 women accused by Goldcorp of sabotaging their electric supply (read more about the case here), declares: "We demand our rights because we do not want to be killed by the mining company. We ask the government to please listen to our demands, as we are the legitimate owners of the territories. We are indigenous people, we were born there, and we should die there. But our death should be decided by God, not by the mining company."

A few meters down the road from the Canadian Embassy, one of the many Goldcorp billboards that can be found in Guatemala City read: "We invest in the dreams of a developing country."

Some residents of San Miguel Ixtahuacan identified the billboard and felt it was inappropriate due to the damage they have suffered from the mine's presence in their communities. Gradually, protestors began tearing little pieces as an expression of discontent with the mining company that has incited grave social conflicts. Dozens of people suddenly charged the billboard euphorically in a festive mood.

San Miguel Ixtahuacan is Waking Up: Guatemala City, Guatemala. (mimundo.org)