A struggle for the defense of their territories waged by indigenous Maya Q'eqchi' communities in eastern Guatemala could set a historic precedent for Latin America's native peoples because it would ensure not only their right to control their lands but also their natural resources, denied for centuries.
Rosa Dávila is busy cooking ears of corn, to be eaten by the men and women who have set up a checkpoint on the side of the road to block the passage of supplies sent to a mining company that operates in the area.
Indigenous communities in Latin America, who have suffered the plunder of their natural resources since colonial times, are reliving that phenomenon again as mega infrastructure are jeopardising their habitat and their very survival.
El Salvador, Central America’s smallest country, has become the first country in the world to pass a law banning metal mining in all its forms, setting a precedent for other nations in the world to follow, according to activists and local residents.
Mining is not viable in this country, say Salvador Sánchez Cerén - who will be sworn in as the new president of El Salvador on Jun. 1 - and his team of environmental advisers.
Conflicts with local communities over mining, oil and gas development are costing companies billions of dollars a year. One corporation alone reported a six billion dollar cost over a two-year period according to the first-ever peer-reviewed study on the cost of conflicts in the extractive sector.
For years India’s pro-liberalisation, Congress party-led coalition government chafed at civil society groups getting in the way of grand plans to boost growth through the setting up of mega nuclear power parks, opening up the vast mineral-rich tribal lands to foreign investment and selling off public assets.