Canada-owned mine at centre of Guatemala court protest

Guatemala City (AFP) - Hundreds of workers laid off at a silver mine owned by Canada's Tahoe Resources marched in the Guatemalan capital Wednesday to demand a top court order the mine reopened.

Canada-owned mine at centre of Guatemala court protest

Canada-owned mine at centre of Guatemala court protest

Workers carried banners and placards urging the Constitutional Court to lift a temporary suspension of its mining licence after a challenge by an NGO on behalf of an indigenous community.

"We want to put pressure on the judges," one demonstrator told reporters.

Protestors brandished placards reading "Mining = Development," and "Resolve Now," when they reached the Constitutional Court headquarters.

Operations at the flagship San Rafael mine were suspended by a court order almost nine months ago, after an environmental NGO alleged the Ministry of Energy and Mines had not consulted with the Xinca indigenous people before awarding the mining licence.

The mine had been operating for four years in San Rafael Las Flores, southeast of Guatemala City.

Some 500 employees were laid off in January due to inactivity at the mine in the absence of a decision from the court, mine spokesman Andres Davila told AFP.

Judges at the constitutional court asked last week for reports from several institutions on the presence in the locality of the Xinca, an indigenous community of Mayan descent.

In October, Nobel Peace Prize laureates Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala, Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, Sherin Ebadi of Iran and Jody Williams of the United States visited the area in solidarity with opponents of the mine.

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