The consultation in the municipality of Cunén commenced in January 2009. According to the report Resistencia de los pueblos (‘Peoples’ Resistance’), its preparation and implementation was characterised by openness and inter-community cooperation. It was carried out in the community with the support of the municipality on October 25, 2009.

Of Cunén’s population of 32,903, 18,924 women, men, children and youths took part, representing 58% of the inhabitants of the municipality. The response was unanimous: all answered ‘no’ to the question “Are you in agreement that national and international businesses and companies, individual persons or legal bodies appropriate and exploit, in the territory of Cunén, our natural resources such as metallic minerals, water, timber, petroleum and others, in large-scale extraction?” In this way the peoples of Cunén expressed their position on the use of their territory.

On 11 November 2009 community representatives presented the consultation results to the Congress of the Republic and other state institutions. At the time of writing, they had not recognised the consultation as binding.

On 5 May 2010, at a public event with representatives of Congress and the government, 130 representatives of the indigenous communities of the north of Quiché formally demanded the cancellation of the licences for mining, hydro-electric and petroleum exploration and exploitation already granted in their lands and territories, as well as the annulment and de-authorisation of pending applications held by the Ministry for Energy and Mines (MEM). They presented a memorandum of the declaration of 134 communities, addressing the exploration and exploitation of the natural resources in their territories.

PBI accompanies the Cunén Communities Council, and has accompanied this process, beginning with the preparation for the consultation, its realisation, and in subsequent activities with public authorities.

Photo: Acoguate 2009