The Marlin mine is a goldmine in Guatemala owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, a subsidiary of Canadian company Goldcorp. The exploitation licence for the Marlin mine straddles the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipakapa, where local residents recall that company representatives had not been transparent about their plans for the mine, having originally told locals that they were looking for orchids, not silver and gold.
Resistance to the Marlin Mine and Resulting Criminalization of Dissent
In their essay on resistance to Goldcorp’s Marlin mine, Anabella Sibrián and Chris Van Der Borgh note a tendency to use legal concepts of “terrorism” and “illicit association” to further stigmatize land defenders while simultaneously criminalizing their actions. This tactic tends to be employed when resistance is growing or tending towards success. Below is a timeline highlighting land defenders’ resistance to the Marlin mine and the resulting stigmatization and criminalization of their actions.
The Scales of Injustice
These cases demonstrate the partiality of the justice system and public armed forces, given the promptness with which they respond to the mining company, while complaints from local community members about violence or criminal behaviour related to the mine go ignored. Even in cases where complaints gained international recognition, this failed to make a significant difference locally.
Late 2004 – Early 2005
Indigenous communities in the department of Quetzaltenango blocked mine equipment from traveling to the Marlin mine site after months of trying to get information rom the national government about mining projects. From December 02, 2004 until January 11, 2005, they stopped a large cylinder for the mine mill along the highway at Sololá.
In the absence of any process of prior consultation to seek their consent, thirteen communities in the municipality of Sipakapa held plebiscites during which those who participated overwhelmingly voted against mining on their territory.
Once the mine was in operation and in a context of increasing tension resulting from social division and other negative impacts of the mine, protests continued.
Local resident Gregoria Crisanta Pérez asked the mining company to remove a post that had been installed on her land for high power electrical lines to the mine. When her complaint went ignored for six months, on June 11th she short-circuited the power line, leaving the mine without power for several days.
The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IAHCR) issued precautionary measures for 18 Maya Mam communities in May 2010. The Commission issued orders designed to ensure the physical integrity, health and adequate water supplies of the communities, including the immediate suspension of the mine.The apparent likelihood that the mine would be shut down immediately aggravated tensions locally.