International organizations speak out on multimillion-dollar claim against Guatemala over failed mine at La Puya

Earthworks and international allies spoke out today in support of communities under threat from a $300 million dollar claim filed by US mining company, Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) in December 2018 against the State of Guatemala. For more than seven years, the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya has opposed the Progreso VII Derivada (el Tambor) gold mine over concerns about impacts on the environment, maintaining an around the clock encampment outside the project despite numerous attempts at eviction, violence and criminalization of leaders.

Read our statement here.

KCA filed the claim with the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) over alleged violations of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). CAFTA-DR gives transnational companies binding recourse to an international arbitration system that bypasses decisions made in national courts and undermines community rights.

The Progreso VII Derivada mine was suspended in 2016 when the Guatemalan Supreme Court found the license approval violated Indigenous communities’ right to consultation, and remains closed today. Local courts also found that the mine never had a valid construction license, and KCA’s owner, Daniel Kappes, is currently under investigation in Guatemala for illegal extraction after failing to respect the 2016 suspension.

In the statement, international organizations express our solidarity with the people of La Puya and denounce KCA’s claim, which has the potential to further erode an already weakened Guatemalan judicial system. We join communities’ in raising the alarm over a renewed military presence in the region, which began exactly one month after KCA filed its claim, and call on the Guatemalan State to respect national and international human rights standards.

More Information:

International Organization Statement in Spanish: Organizaciones internacionales denuncian la demanda multimillonaria de compañía minera estadounidense contra Guatemala y expresan su solidaridad con las comunidades que defienden la tierra y la vida pacíficamente en “La Puya”

Earthblog: Peaceful Resistance of La Puya responds to international arbitration filed against Guatemala