Police Use Violence Against Community Members During a Peaceful Demonstration Against Tahoe Resources’ Escobal Mine

By NISGUA | June 23, 2017


Since June 7, communities have maintained a 24-hour encampment along the highway in the municipality of Casillas, 15 kilometers from the Escobal mine of U.S.-Canadian company Tahoe Resources. Blocking only mine-related traffic, they are denouncing the negative impacts they experience on a daily basis since Tahoe Resources came to the region. In prior statements published by the resistance movement, they denounce constant tremors stemming from mining activities, continuous heavy-equipment traffic, and increasing environmental impacts of the Escobal project, including the drying up of water sources.

Yesterday afternoon, police used tear gas in an attempt to violently evict them. While community members were forced to scatter, they regrouped yesterday evening in the thousands to continue their peaceful demonstration in the same location. Read below for a detailed account on yesterday’s police violence.

The following account of police violence was written by Nelton Rivera for Prensa Comunitaria. For the full article in Spanish, click here. Translation and editing done by NISGUA.

“This afternoon [June 22] at 1PM, riot police arrived at the demonstration. Without any cause, they began throwing tear gas canisters at community members.

Since June 6th, residents of Casillas have successfully detained mining operations. According to one of the residents who demanded that the company withdraw from the area due to the damages it was causing, the strong tremors they feel as a result of mining operations ceased once they began their demonstration.

At the scene were children, elderly people, and one person in a wheelchair. The presence of the police coincided with the company’s attempt to move one of its trucks through the blockade. According to a witness, “The children began to sing the national anthem at the same time as one of the members of the national civil police began to gather rocks to throw.’

The police began to throw tear gas in all directions – against the population, towards the houses, and even on top of a health center that specializes in providing healthcare to children.

After being dispersed by the police, people scattered to protect themselves. The riot police entered into the center of Casillas and continued throwing tear gas canisters. Residents who were in their homes and schools were affected by the gas; ambulances attended to the people.

Moisés Divas, a representative of the Xinca Parliament, denounced that the arrival of the police without any motive. The police did not present an eviction notice, nor were they accompanied by a Justice of the People. Human Rights representatives were not present, either, when the police began to throw tear gas and evict community members.”

To read the full article, click here. 

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