Employees of EXMINGUA-KCA plead guilty to threats against journalists

Yesterday, in a ground breaking court case, Juan José Reyes Carrera y retired Guatemalan Army Lt. Pablo Silas Orozco Cifuentes were sentenced to two years in prison for “threats and coercion” against independent journalists reporting on local resistance to a U.S.-owned gold mine.

Reyes and Orozco are both employees of Exmingua, the Guatemalan subsidiary of Nevada-based mining company Kappes, Casssiday & Associates (KCA).

The guilty verdict could set an important precedent in Guatemala where transnational corporations across the country have engaged in similar tactics, hiring locals (often former military officials) and using intimidation to attempt to break grassroots opposition to mines, hydroelectric dams and mega projects.

Since March of 2011, community members from San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have maintained a peaceful roadblock near the entrance to KCA’s “Progreso VII Derivada” gold mine, not allowing any heavy mining machinery to pass. This nonviolent resistance, known as “La Puya,” has faced constant threats and attacks.

On November 22, 2012 Carrera and Orozco arrived at La Puya accompanied by pro-mining shock troops dressed as miners. They began threatening, harassing, and verbally attacking the men, women and children of the resistance. They then turned their verbal assault on the journalists covering the confrontation, calling them“long-haired hippies,” “filthy bastards” and threatening to “cut off their hands” if they kept taking photographs.

As a condition of the plea-bargain that lead to the guilty verdict, both men can avoid serving jail time by paying a fee of Q15,000 (US$1,875) each, which amounts to roughly $3 per day, for the length of their sentence.

Judge Carlos Aguilar rejected a motion by the defense lawyer, Francisco Beltranena, requesting that the daily fine be reduced to one Quetzal (13 US cents).

In his verdict, the judge affirmed that the communities have the right to protest against projects that could negatively impact their health and the environment. He also stated that journalists have the right to gather and transmit information, and that no one can limit the right of any reporter, whether of the mainstream media or not, to carry out their work.

You can read more about the ongoing community resistance at “La Puya” on the GHRC website.

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Condena por agresiones en contra de comunicadores independientes por parte de trabajadores de Exmigua

El día de ayer 17 de octubre, el Juzgado Segundo de Primera Instancia Penal Narcoactividad y Delitos Contra el Ambiente condenó a dos años de cárcel conmutables por los delitos de coacción y amenazas en contra de periodistas independientes, a Juan José Reyes Carrera y al teniente retirado Pablo Silas Orozco Cifuentes, trabajadores de EXMINGUA–KCA,  empresa que pretende construir la mina El Tambor Progreso VII Derivada, en San José de Golfo.

Las penas:

Por el delito de coacción: 1 año de cárcel, conmutable a Q20.00 diarios

Por el delito de amenazas: 1 año de cárcel, conmutable a Q5.00 diarios.

La solicitud del abogado Francisco Beltranena, de considerar conmutables por Q1.00 diario los delitos fue rechazada por el juez.

Las amenazas en contra de los comunicadores se realizaron el 22 de noviembre de 2012, mientras cubrían un intento de desalojo de la resistencia pacífica en La Puya, San José del Golfo.

El juez a cargo del caso, expresó que la población tiene el derecho a protestar sobre las acciones que considere le pueden afectar a su salud, a su medio ambiente y tienen el derecho también de que los medios informen, trasladen la información sobre sus demandas, por lo que no se puede vedar a ningún medio ya sea corporativo o no, realizar su trabajo.

El próximo 24 de octubre, se dará la lectura de la sentencia y el 29 de octubre se realizará la audiencia para conocer la acción reparadora. En la audiencia estuvo presente el coronel retirado Mario Ricardo Figueroa Archila gerente de Exmingua.

La audiencia fue cubierta por medios de comunicación de radio, prensa y televisión.

Algunas notas en los medios sobre la audiencia:

http://noticias.emisorasunidas.com/noticias/nacionales/condenan-dos-hombres-amenazas-periodistas

tp://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/comunitario/trabajadores_de_mina-amenaza_a_periodistas-sentencia_0_1012698849.html

http://www.lahora.com.gt/index.php/nacional/guatemala/actualidad/185403-condenan-a-extrabajadores-de-minera-por-agresion-Image

Carta de Juana Baca y Lolita Chávez

ImageGuatemala, 18 de junio de 2013

A todas las organizaciones nacionales e internacionales, a las redes, comunidades y pueblos, que expresaron su solidaridad y preocupación por nuestra seguridad.

Por los ataque y amenazas que hemos sufrido, el 7 de marzo del presente año la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) nos ratificó Medidas Cautelares. En cumplimiento de estas medidas, el gobierno nos asignó medidas de seguridad en nuestras labores como defensoras de los derechos humanos.

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March Against Impunity Guatemala City, May 24, 2013

The march against impunity ended in front of the Constitutional Court, where the participants, including many community leaders, raised their voices in protest. Their petition: justice in the genocide case!

La marcha contra la impunidad, terminó frente a la CC, en donde los manifestantes, entre ellos varios líderes comunitarios, lanzaron varios mensajes al máximo órgano constitucional, la demanda de Justicia fue el llamado más fuerte. Image

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March Against Impunity Guatemala City, May 24, 2013

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The Guatemala’s highest court, the Constitutional Court (CC), recently snatched justice from the hands of the victims and survivors of General Efraín Rios Montt’s bloody dictatorship. On May 10th Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 80 years in prison. The CC voted 3-2 to annul that sentence. Most analysts agree that the court was under severe pressure form the economic elite organized in CACIF (Coordinating Committee of Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, and Financial Associations), itself accused of playing a nefarious role during the internal armed conflict.

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Despite the CC’s highly questionable decision to annul the sentence and repeat part of the trial, the verdict was handed down and RíosMontt was found guilty. Neither the CC nor Montt’s defense attorneys can erase the historic truth: in Guatemala there was genocide!

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GHRC and NISGUA hand over 2800 signatures demanding the release of Rubén Herrera

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Since Friday, March 15, Rubén Herrera, member of the Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango for the Defense of Natural Resources has been imprisoned in Huehuetenango, Guatemalaemala. He is charged with crimes including kidnapping and terrorism allegedly committed in relation to resistance to the Cambalam hydroelectric dam, operated by Spanish owned Hidro Santa Cruz. Citing irregularities in his case, over 2800 people from 52 countries have signed a petition to Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor’s Office and President Otto Pérez Molina calling for Herrera’s immediate release. On May 22, GHRC and NISGUA staff handed over the signatures to the Prosecutor’s Office.

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Organizations Call on US & Mesoamerican Presidents to Reevaluate Regional Security Policies

Press Release
April 30, 2013

Washington, DC – Over 150 international, regional and local organizations from 10 countries have come together to address presidents from the US and Mesoamerica on the eve of their summit.

Organizations have expressed concern about rising rates of violence and call on governments to “acknowledge that failed security policies that have militarized citizen security have only exacerbated the problem, and are directly contributing to increased human suffering in the region.” Examples from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and the United States demonstrate that militarization has weakened public institutions, led to thousands of civilian deaths, and has done nothing to decrease transnational organized crime or make citizens safer.

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In response to the new wave of attacks against human rights defenders/Frente a la nueva ola de ataques contra defensores

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While the world watches the historic case against the generals Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, indigenous peoples and human rights defenders are suffering persecution very similar to that perpetrated in the 1980s.

During the internal armed conflict, Mayan peoples in Guatemala were persecuted, displaced and brutally massacred. At the same time, union leaders, students, catechists and peasants – those who spoke out to defend their rights – were disappeared and systematically assassinated by the state. This violence was carried out as part of a government strategy to maintain an economic system that benefited a small minority of elite families, leaving the indigenous majority marginalized and in conditions of poverty. The State tried to justify its tactics by labeling these citizens as “internal enemies” who threatened Guatemala’s stability.

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Organizations denounce approval of mining license in wake of violence / Organizaciones denuncian licencia minera

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 8, 2013

Mining License Approved in Wake of Violence, Investigation into Murder Pending

(Washington, D.C.) – After more than two years of delay, the Guatemalan Minister of Energy and Mines (MEM) announced on Wednesday, April 3, that it had approved the exploitation license for Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine in San Rafael Las Flores, Guatemala. The announcement comes less than two weeks after four indigenous Xinca leaders were abducted while returning from a community referendum in El Volcancito, in which more than 99 percent of people voted against the Escobal project. One of those abducted was found dead the next day.

“That MEM issued the license while the investigation of our friend Exaltación Marcos Ucelo’s murder is still pending is not only an affront to Exaltación’s memory, but it is also a violation of our right to consent,” said Roberto González, President of the Xinca Parliament, who was one of the four abducted, only to be released hours later. “If there is impunity for outright murder, how can we expect the Guatemalan government to protect us from harmful contamination generated by mining operations?”

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GHRC Condemns Attack against Xinca Leaders in Santa Maria Xalapán

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The Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC) condemns the killing of Exaltación Marcos, who along with Roberto González, Rigoberto Aguilar and Roberto López, was kidnapped yesterday evening, March 17, by a group of heavily armed men.

The four leaders were abducted while returning home from a good-faith consultation in the El Volcancito community, San Rafael Las Flores, Guatemala.

Hours after the abduction, Rigoberto Aguilar and Roberto López managed to escape and reach their community.  They had both been badly beaten. Today, Exaltación Marcos was found dead, with his body displaying signs of physical violence. The Santa María Xalapán community now fears for the life of Roberto González, President of the Xinca Parliament, who is still missing.

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La licencia de la mina El Tambor debería ser suspendida

Robert H. Robinson visitó el punto de resistencia en La Puya, San José del Golfo; conversó con la población, llegó al lugar en donde la mina pretende instalarse y escuchó de voz de sus protagonistas sobre la historia de resistencia pacífica que desde marzo de 2012, la población de San José del Golfo y San Pedro Ayampuc han mantenido.

Robinson y Steve Laudeman, realizaron un análisis al Estudio de Impacto Ambiental de la Mina Progreso VII Derivada (El Tambor). El pasado miércoles 13 de febrero Robinson hizo una presentación del estudio en San José del Golfo.Image

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ImageMilton hace un recorrido a Robinson para que conozca el lugar en  donde pretende instalarse la minera.

ImageEn La Puya, Robinson conoce acerca de la resistencia pacífica, escucha atento sobre las acciones de provocación hechas por supuestos trabajadores de la mina en noviembre y la intimidación y violencia de la que fue objeto la resistencia en diciembre.

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ImageRobinson hace la presentación del análisis realizado al Estudio de Impacto Ambiental hecho por la empresa minera, explica sobre las enormes deficiencias que tiene, pero sobre todo de los enormes riesgos de salud a los que la población cercana a la mina estaría expuesta. La recomendación es clara: suspender la licencia a la Mina Progreso VII Derivada.

Image Al final de la presentación, Kelsey Alford-Jones, Directora de GHRC, hace entrega de una manta elaborada por la delegación de estudiantes de American University, que visitó La Puya en enero pasado: “No están solos, su lucha tiene un impacto mucho más allá de lo local, de lo nacional, alcanza la comunidad internacional, hay mucha gente que está realmente impresionada con todo el esfuerzo y la lucha que ustedes han llevado a cabo”.

ImageYolanda Oquelí, habla sobre la importancia del estudio presentado por Robert Robinson, que reafirma que su preocupación y lucha son legítimas “el no se imagina lo que ha aportado para nosotros…”, con emoción Yolanda expresa que saber que mucha gente en otros países se siente parte de la lucha no tiene precio y no lo paga ningún dinero del mundo.Image