¡Somos La Puya! (We Are La Puya!): Community Resistance to Canadian Mining Company Operations in Guatemala
This dissertation contributes to literatures of postcolonial and critical geographies of development by documenting a landscape of violence that shapes processes of how people make place at the local level in response to extractive resource development in Guatemala. Three case studies of the Fénix, Marlin, and El Escobal mines offer context when situating the fourth and lesser known El Tambor mine. Transnational mining companies and the Guatemalan government are intent on exploiting natural resources in order to fuel economic development. In response, residents of the municipalities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc joined together to form La Puya, a community situated at the entrance of the Canadian, and later American-owned and operated El Tambor mine. Using feminist and activist methodologies as a framework to guide fieldwork in Guatemala and Canada, the dissertation focuses on the voices of community members from La Puya as a means to challenge mainstream ideas about mining as an appropriate method of development. Interviews conducted in the summers of 2012 and 2013 asked community members about their experiences opposing the operations of transnational mining companies and the policies and actions of the Guatemalan government. Engaging a critical geographic approach, analyses found that individuals who take up opposition to neoliberal development face daily forms of direct and indirect violence that negatively impact their lives and communities. Additionally, the dissertation explores the foundations of structural violence created in Canada through on site observations in 2016 and 2017 at the annual conference of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), an Access to Information (ATI) request, and public letters and press releases from transnational mining companies operating in Guatemala. Absent from these latter fora are the experience of violence that affect the lives of those living with problematical development. Therefore, the aim of this dissertation is to amplify the voices of La Puya in direct opposition to the actions of foreign companies and government officials who dominate discussions of development. The dissertation concludes that disputes between transnational companies, local communities, and the Guatemalan government derive from lack of meaningful consultation, failure by the state to protect the rights of Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, and environmental degradation as a result of extractive operations.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/24499
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