In “La Puya” Guatemala, members of the communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have been blocking the construction of the Tambor gold mine for over a year. Last week, they joined forces with a group in Nevada facing a very similar situation.
Alvaro Sandoval in “A Tale of Two Communities.”
On June 26, the Comstock Residents Association (CRA) from near Reno, Nevada protested against Comstock Mining Inc’s (CMI) plan to mine in the Virginia City National Historic Landmark.
With GHRC’s help, Alvaro Sandoval Palencia traveled to Nevada to join the protest and tell the story of La Puya. Through musical street theater, the protesters told “A Tale of Two Communities,” drawing the connections between the imposition of destructive mining in both places.
According to Alvaro “We [at La Puya] are not against progress. We are simply questioning the price that we have to pay for this development. We’re fighting for our rights, which are not respected either by the multinational companies or by the Guatemalan Government.”
The connection between La Puya and the Comstock Resident’s Association goes beyond both standing up to powerful companies threatening to destroy the land near their homes. The two groups are facing off against some of the same people. Daniel Kappes is President of Kappes, Cassiday and Associates, whose subsidiary EXMINGUA is trying to build the Tambor mine. He is also on the board of CMI.
According to CRA spokesman Joe McCarthy, “La Puya, Guatemala is our sister community and we have suffered similar experiences with these two companies, both based in Nevada. Both just barged right into our communities, then asked for forgiveness, not permission, to conduct surface mining in close proximity to our homes. Both engage in full-steam ahead operations without legitimate impact studies. They show no regard for the people and are focused on profit at our expense and our governments have allowed this to happen.”
Alvaro and members of CRA hold a banner that students from American University made to show their solidarity with La Puya after visiting on a GHRC led delegation.
The members of CRA and La Puya plan to build on their new relationship as sister communities. With their shared experience, they hope to support each other’s struggles for a clean environment and community control over natural resources.
Other news from La Puya: On June 12, representatives of La Puya met with President Otto Pérez Molina to discuss the ongoing threats against them as well as their continuing rejection of mining activities in their region. Representatives of Kappes, Cassiday and Associates tried to participate in the meeting, but were forced to leave as the members of La Puya insisted that the conversation be between them and their government. As a result of the meeting, President Pérez Molina agreed to a new, independent environmental impact analysis of the proposed mine.
Please consider donating to GHRC to help us continue our work with environmentalists in Guatemala like those of La Puya. 
Kathryn Johnson