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2019 Meeting in Congress to question government officials on Cerro Blanco

In December 2019, a Guatemalan congressman convened a working meeting in the Guatemalan Congress to formally question the Ministries of Energy and Mines, Environment and Natural Resources, and Health regarding the health and environmental impacts of the Cerro Blanco mine and Bluestone Resources’ plans to reactivate the project. 

The meeting was convened in accordance with the congressman’s statutory powers as a member of Congress to formally question ministers of state and obtain information on issues of concern. Members of civil society and the Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Office also participated in the meeting. 

Representatives of the municipality of Asunción Mita (Department of Jutiapa), including Colectivo Madreselva, argued that the mine was causing high levels of arsenic in water supplies and was a threat to the health of local populations as well as those in neighbouring El Salvador. They also maintained that the concession was illegal as the EIA issued in 2007 failed to incorporate key elements, such as the impact on watercourses, wider environmental and health consequences, and the safety of mine workers, all of which were necessary for an integrated and comprehensive analysis of the impacts of the mine. 

The state authorities rejected these and other arguments, asserting that the original EIA was legal and valid. However, they failed to produce any information on Bluestone Resources’ plans for the mine and reportedly claimed that they had not received any information from Bluestones Resources or Entre Mares on the measures being taken to reactivate the mine. 

The working meeting in Congress was convened by the congressman on the basis of the Guatemalan Organic Law of the Legislative Organ. This establishes the power of members of congress to request information from public officials and the obligation on them to respond, as well as the power to require Ministers of State to attend Congress personally to respond to formal questioning under penalty of perjury. Civil society organizations working with members of Congress interested in environmental issues have used these statutory powers to secure the participation of senior officials in meetings in which members of affected communities and representatives of the Human Rights Ombudspersons Office are also present to witness official responses. The failure to respond truthfully potentially exposes the public official to a formal legal complaint of perjury. This mechanism remains one of the few available to officially question public officials in relation to specific issues, such as extractive projects.

Type of Action / Tipo de Acción:
National Legislative Activities and Procedures
Extractive Project / Proyecto extractivo:
Region / Región:
Central America
Country / País:
Natural Resource / Recurso natural:
Gold, Silver
Jurisdiction / Jurisdicción:
Guatemalan System
Category of Key Actors in Legal Action / Categoría de actores claves en la Acción Legal:
Community Representatives, Civil Society Organizations, State Institutions
Human Rights Violated/Claimed:
Right to a healthy environment, Right to health, Right to safety and personal integrity, Right to access information, Right to due process
Key Legal Actors Involved / Actores jurídicos clave involucrados:
Association of Madre Selva, Community Residents, Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM), Human Rights Ombudsperson
Year Action Started / Año de inicio:
References / Referencias:

Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas (FGER), “Diputado Leocadio Juracan cita a las autoridades del Ministerio de Energía y Minas ante la posible reactivación de la mina Cerro Blanco,” dated 17 December 2019, online:, accessed 20 October 2020.

ACAFREMIN, “Proyecto Cerro Blanco. Falta de transparencia en el caso de la mina Cerro Blanco”, dated 19 December 2019, online:, accessed 20 October 2020.

ACAFREMIN, “Mina Cerro Blanco: amenaza latente para el agua de El Salvador”, dated 9 February 2021, online:, accessed 22 February 2021.

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, “Regulation of Environmental Evaluation, Control and Monitoring” (Spanish), Acuerdo Gubernativo número 137-2016, dated 11 July 2016, online:, accessed 20 October 2020.
The Juridification of Resource Conflicts: Legal Cultures, Moralities and Environmental Politics in Central America, Interview by Dr Ainhoa Montoya and Dr Rupert Knox with representative of Colectivo Madreselva, 24 August 2021.