When Mining Turns Into Murder
A 16-Year-Old Activist’s Murder Highlights the Struggles of Indigenous Peoples to Protect Their Communities From the Greed of the Extractive Industry in Guatemala
Topacio Reynoso was a 16-year-old activist engaged in peaceful resistance to Minera San Rafael S.A., a company aggressively pursuing silver and gold mining in indigenous Guatemalan regions. Since she was 14, she had devoted her life to preserving the purity of her family farm—which grew everything from coffee beans to corn—and the lands surrounding it, all of which risked endangerment if mining chemicals contaminated local rivers.
In 2014, while leaving a community concert at which she performed with her marimba band, Topacio and her father, Ale