The mining law is unconstitutional

The CPO, People’s Council of the Western, was created at the end of 2008 to follow-up the communities consultations that reveal the people’s opposition to the permissive government policies that allowed the presence in the country to transnational companies for the exploration and the exploitation of mineral resources.

This presence is real, palpable in any community in the highland of San Marcos, especially in the community of Sipakapa and San Miguel, and so are many who feel this presence like a treat for the common life of the people. 

For that reason the juridical team of CPO conducts an exhaustive analysis of the controversial mining law and came to the conclusion that this law is unconstitutional. But how is possible to say that a law within the Guatemala legal system for more that fifteen years is unconstitutional? 

For that answer we must go back a bit in the time. The peace treaty was signed in 1996 after the hard time of internal war. Since that time the politicians understood the necessity of external capitals to rebuild the country. Were necessary companies that invest in our country, it was necessary create a job offer to bring the country from the poverty to the economic development. The idea wasn’t so bad at the beginning, but its development was completely a disaster. Instead of seeking a national development by creating national or private industries for the processing of raw materials, the idea was just to use, rather plunder, all the country’s resources. But this idea of development needs an accommodate law system. So they created the new mining law.

The new law, among other things, lowered taxes, royalties and the guaranties about the respect of the fundamental indigenous people rights’, rights guarantee by the international conventions signed by Guatemala.  

The gold rush polluted all the Guatemala’s governments. The result is the current situation: more than 100 mining exploration licenses all over a country that is number 106 for territorial extension and without a mining tradition.

Shortly before the reform of mining law, Guatemala ratified the ILO Convention 169. Based on these agreements the signatories states must care and preserve the tradition of indigenous peoples. Within this agreement the 15th article clearly states the obligation of prior consultation among the communities affected by mining project, in order to reach an arrangement or the consent about the same mining project.

“The law contradicts, contravenes and isn’t in accordance with the prevision of the constitution” says the lawyer Udiel Miranda, from the legal department of CPO because “the Political Constitution of Guatemala’s Republic is clear to affirm that in term of humans rights internationals laws prevails over the ordinary laws”.

Graphic: : P.L.

After a long process of studying, was taken the decision to report to the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, the total unconstitutionality of mining law.

. On 12 March 2012, a delegation of CPO legal department, representative the peoples of Western Guatemala, formally submit to the Constitutional Court  the legal document that shows the unconstitutionality of mining law.  This document also included the signatures of the president of the 48 cantons of Totonicapán, the one’s of the Mayor of the Municipality Indian of Solola ,the one’s of Indian Hall Nebaj indigenous Mayoralty of Chichicastenango, the one’s of the Mayor community representative of the 12 communities of San Juan Sacatepequez K'MALB 'E of the National Authorities of Ancient Maya, Garifuna and Xinca Ulew Ixim, the one’s of Alvaro Ramazzini as legal representative of the Catholic Church diocese of San Marcos, the one’s of the legal representative of the Christian ecumenical Guatemala and the one’s of Rigoberta Menchu ​​Tum Nobel Peace Prize. With this submission began a process of legal and political territorial defense.

After one month the Constitutional Court decided to pursue the matter of this action wield by the peoples and two months later, exactly the 25 May 2012 set the date of 19 July 2012 at 9:00 am as the date for the public hearing on the case.

It’s the time to do justice; it’s time for the communities to affirm their reasons.

The popular volunteer has been expressed across all the country in several community consultations were all the single municipality, among the over 60 that use this method of direct democracy, express against the exploration y exploitation of raw materials and against the presence of mines in their territories. Despite the popular volunteer the government, through the Ministry of Energies and Mines, continue to grant licenses justified by the actual mining law (even without the consent of indigenous peoples, owner of their lands). These attitudes showed by the government suggest a question: why the government can’t stop the grant of licenses despite the social contempt?

The 19 July it’s time to make history, it’s time to make stronger the unity among the people, it’s time to win against the destruction, the fear and the plunder of indigenous lands. It’s came the time were a Court will have the opportunity to make Guatemala a State were the rules of laws is maintained and were and the Constitutional State has its rationale.

The peoples of Guatemala already speak in the communitarian consults, now it’s the turn of Constitutional Court.