Original article published in Spanish by Prensa Comunitaria.
Written by: Regina Pérez
Photo credit: Kelvin Jiménez

This Saturday morning, on January 16, the Xinka Parliament reported that leader Julio David González was attacked at his home, located in Mataquescuintla, Jalapa [Guatemala]. González was shot and subsequently transported to a nearby medical centre. 

Kelvin Jiménez, a lawyer and member of the Xinka Parliament, noted that since last year, the Xinka Parliament has denounced multiple threats against González and others who form part of the organized resistance in Mataquescuintla, Jalapa. 

Only 15 days ago, a complaint was filed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Activists and Human Rights Defenders, for threats received by members of the resistance since the closure of the Escobal mining project, said Jiménez. 

The attack against González occurred around 8:40 am, at his small store that sells meats and dairy. The attacker pretended to be a customer and shot him when González went out to attend to him. 

Threats against the members of the Xinka Parliament have been reported since 2019 and 2020, the lawyer said. 

Jiménez said it is noteworthy that this attack took place one day after the Xinka Parliament announced the pre-consultation to be held on April 20, 2021, on the mining rights of the Escobal project, owned by Minera San Rafael* in the department of Santa Rosa.

In 2017, operations at the mine were suspended and in September 2018, the Constitutional Court confirmed the closure. 

Since 2019, however, a legal battle has been taking place between the Ministry of Energy and Mines [and the Xinka Parliament] to implement and enforce the ruling, said Jiménez. 

Attacks against defenders

The Guatemalan Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA) documented at least 1004 instances of aggressions against defenders between January and December 15, 2020.

The departments with the highest records of violence against human rights defenders are: Guatemala, Izabal, Alta Verapaz, Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, Sololá and Chiquimula.

*Post publication note: Minera San Rafael (MSR) is the former name of the subsidiary operator of the Escobal mine in Guatemala. Since Pan American Silver acquired Tahoe Resources and its wholly-owned subsidiary, MSR, they have since changed the name of the subsidiary to Pan American Silver Guatemala S.A.