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Development or Devastation? Epistemologies of Mayan Women’s Resistance to an Open-Pit Goldmine in Guatemala

Morna Macleod

Abstract


The Canadian corporation Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacán is the first open- pit goldmine in Guatemala. While Goldcorp depicts Marlin as a showcase for development and good business, many Mayan women express extreme distress at the multilayered destruction caused by the corporation. Under the guidance of the indigenous women’s movement Tz’ununija’, in May–June 2011 and July 2012, I held in- depth interviews with five Maya- Mam leaders and two workshops in San Miguel with more than 30 women opposing the mine. Analysing their visions and Goldcorp’s public development discourse, I argue that the mine is decimating San Miguel’s social fabric and environment. Although Goldcorp has created employment, infrastructure and injected money into the local economy, gains are short term in comparison with the long- term impacts of the mining venture on land and community. At heart, two fundamentally opposed visions are at stake: Western “development” versus tb’anil qchwinqlal, or quality of life.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740