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Keywords:

  • gold mining;
  • social movements;
  • political ecology;
  • community;
  • Maya resistance

Mining is one of the most controversial activities in contemporary Guatemala. The anti-mining movement was studied during five months of participant and qualitative research, focusing on its strategies and discourses. The movement is multiscalar, with local, national and transnational dimensions, but the defence of community is a central claim in its discourse. The community is reclaimed as a legitimate scale for decision-making by the anti-mining movement because it is: (a) the scale that suffers the material impacts of mining; (b) the place of Maya cultural resistance for reimagining alternative development projects; and (c) an historically marginalized sector of the population, that should be empowered in order to achieve more participative and fair decision-making processes. As in other peasant struggles, defending the community is not an objective per se, but a strategy to contest domination. The community is dialectically redefined in relation to Guatemala's historical injustices.