Indigenous leaders and mayors gathered on Thursday at Guatemala's Congress to denounce the illegal mining of gold, silver, and jade in their territories.
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The delegation included representatives from Ipala, Concepcion Las Minas, Jocotan, Camotan, San Juan, Quetzaltepeque, Esquipulas, and Olopa territories.
Mayan Indigenous leaders called on Energy Minister Alberto Pimentel to address the illegal mining in the Chiquimula department where the El Pato and Olopa villages are among the most affected zones.
Warning that greater "conflict" and "ungovernability" could erupt in Chiquimula, Indigenous leader Jovelino Ramirez noted that 58 mining concessions were not consulted with the Indigenous peoples or local authorities.
On Feb. 1, lawmakers will interrogate Pimentel who must respond to several accusations voiced by the delegation and offer a report on the mining activity.
"Minister Pimentel has to assume his responsibility, file criminal complaints, and require security forces to close the mining operation in El Pato village where jade, gold, and silver are being stolen," Congressman Carlos Barreda said.
On Thursday, some El Pato residents and priest Mario Canan were arbitrarily detained by the miners as they inspected what was going on there. They were released after the intervention of the Police.