Mayan Q'eqchi' Ancestral Council and human rights defenders speak out about possible reactivation of Fénix mine in Guatemala

Maya Q'eqchi' Ancestral Authorities

The following statement was translated by Rights Action, who calls on organizations and people - particularly in Canada, Switzerland and the US that are home to the mining companies – to use the statements below (English below and Spanish version here) to initiate, or continue with your education and activism work to pressure your governments and your companies to comply with the just demands of the Maya Q’eqchi’ people.

Given the possible resumption of mining operations in the Q'eqchi' territories of El Estor, Izabal, the Maya Q'eqchi' Ancestral Authorities and defenders of Mother Earth make this statement to the State of Guatemala, sending copies to the governments of the countries of origin of the mining companies, and to the national and international mining industry.

We respectfully demand: 

  1. Suspension: Immediate suspension of mining operations in the Q'eqchi' region of El Estor and Panzos.
  2. Investigation commission: Formation of an independent commission to thoroughly investigate the real impacts of mining from 2004 to the year 2024.
  3. Reparations: Preparation of a compensation plan for the people and communities that have suffered violence, damage and criminalization during these 20 years of mining.
  4. Consultation process: Implementation of a legal and transparent consultation process, based on prior and fully complete information, in the ancestral Mayan language Q'eqchi'.


As indigenous peoples who live in and defend these ancestral Maya Q'eqchi' lands, in the municipality of El Estor, Izabal, including territories in Panzos, we make this call to the central government, the global mining industry, the countries of origin of the mining companies, and all governments of the international community that have the responsibility to protect and watch over human rights and the protection of environmental resources in all their policies and actions.

For more than 20 years (without going any further back in the history of mining in our region), mining activity has greatly and negatively affected the communities of the municipality of El Estor.

We have experienced firsthand, and continue to suffer from: environmental pollution in Lake Izabal, water shortages in our rivers and water sources, multiple human rights violations, criminalizations and imprisonments, evictions, burning and destruction of entire villages, rape of women during some of the evictions, murders such as Adolfo Ich Chaman (September 2009) and Carlos Maaz (May 2017). In addition, we recall the death of 3 students from the University of Valle, in the Fenix mining facilities, in highly suspicious conditions in 2012.

We believe it is the responsibility of the State - with the support of the governments of the mining companies' home countries - to support an independent investigation into all of these negative impacts, from 2004 to the present.

Based on the results of this investigation and its conclusions, we believe that the State - with the support of the mining companies and the governments of the companies' home countries - should prepare and provide a compensation plan for the victims.

We specifically point to the Canadian companies Skye Resources 2004-2008 and Hudbay Minerals 2008-2011, and the Swiss company Solway Investment Group 2011-2024.

We believe that there can be no talk of a reactivation of mining activity if the damages suffered by the victims and families are not repaired, due to human rights violations, environmental damage and destruction of entire villages, and if the human rights and territorial rights of the Maya Q'eqchi' communities are not respected.

Finally, we believe that based on the conclusion of the investigation and the establishment of a reparation plan, a transparent and inclusive consultation should be carried out, with full prior information, carried out in the Maya Q'echi' language, as well as respecting the ways of life of our communities and families.

No more irresponsible mining!

No more human rights violations!

No more assassinations and environmental contamination!

Long live the Maya Q'eqchi' people and the struggle of our ancestors, grandmothers and grandfathers in defense of Mother Earth!

Contact: Mayan Q'eqchi' Ancestral Council.