On the same day that Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina announced a two-year moratorium on mining, human rights and environmental activist Santos Fidel Ajau Suret was gunned down after leaving the peaceful community roadblock known as La Puya. He was a 54-year-old community activist resisting the El Tambor mine. Since March of 2012, Guatemalan community members from the municipalities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have demanded the cancellation of the American mining company Kappes Cassidy and Associates (KCA’s) exploitation license in the Tambor mountain region (originally owned and operated by Canadian mining company Radius Gold Inc.).
Over the past 16 months, participants of the community roadblock have endured often violent and systematic repression organized by the mining company, pro-mining community members and the government.
Memorably, on June 13, 2012, activist and community leader Yolanda Oqueli Veliz was shot in an assassination attempt while leaving La Puya. As an act of intimidation, her house was sprayed with bullets on July 9, 2013, the same day as Ajau Suret was assassinated by two armed motorcyclists. Despite these efforts to destabilize resistance efforts, La Puya remains strong and continues to blockade the main entrance of the El Tambor mine, continuing its resistance nonviolently.
President Pérez Molina’s two-year moratorium on mining will not alter the present situation at La Puya. The extractive license for the El Tambor mine site is already approved.