A Conversation with Human Rights Defender Teresa Muñoz

You are invited you to join us for a conversation with Teresa Muñoz, who has been impacted by abuses linked to Tahoe Resources’ mine in Guatemala.

Monday, November 17, 2014
5:30 – 7:00 pm
Oxfam America
1100 15
th Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005

 Featuring: Teresa Muñoz, Guatemalan farmer; Angela J. Bunch, Extractive Industries Program Officer, Oxfam America; Kathryn Johnson from the Guatemala Human Rights Commission; and Lindolfo Carballo from Casa Maryland.

With support from Oxfam America, Guatemalan Human Rights Commission, Casa Maryland, Sisters of Mercy, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, and The Franciscan Action Network.

To RSVP or join this conversation online, please contact:
Scott A. Sellwood on ssellwood@oxfamamerica.org or +1 (202) 777-2918


Teresa Muñoz is part of the local movement that defends the rights to life and a healthy environment from the threats posed by Tahoe Resources’ mine in Guatemala. As reprisal for her peaceful activism, she was wrongfully accused of several crimes and had to go into hiding for seven months until the charges were dropped. Besides being a committed environmental activist and a community leader in Jalapa, she is an active member of her local parish and cares for her disabled sister. Teresa is a passionate farmer who loves her small farm, and whose livelihood depends on selling the milk and cheese she produces from her two cows.

On May 2, 2013, the government declared a “State of Siege” in several municipalities that were opposed to a proposed expansion of the mining project. Army troops arrived in numbers neither Teresa nor the community had ever seen in their territory. They were looking for her. She didn’t know exactly why. The only thing she knew is that she had to flee into the mountains, into the forest she knew so well. She walked for around 70 km (43 miles) until she reached Guatemala City. She stayed in hiding for seven months.

Human rights defenders like Teresa have been criminalized and persecuted in Guatemala. It is a risky place to speak up. “If you tell the truth about the injustices that the government and the mining companies commit … it has its consequences,” she says. “Many leaders have lost their lives because they spoke the truth. And I know that at any moment it could happen to me, too.”

Take Action: Tell Nevada-based Companies to Respect Human Rights Abroad

Event and Action with Miriam Pixtún Monroy and Teresa Muñoz
Thursday, November 13, 12:30 – 1:00 PM
201 W Liberty St., Reno

At our public event in Reno, we will hear from Miriam Pixtún Monroy, a Maya Kaqchikel woman from San José Nacahuil, San Pedro Ayampuc in Guatemala and Teresa Muñoz, an anti-mining activist from Jalapa, Guatemala.

We will also present a letter to the Nevada Mining Association alerting them to human rights abuses in Guatemala at mines owned by Kappes, Cassiday & Associates. We will demand that the Nevada Mining Association take action on this member company to expel Kappes, Cassiday & Associates from the Association as long as these abuses continue. Furthermore, we will urge the Association to require its members to uphold the highest human rights standards, and to deny any future membership to companies that violate human rights, like Nevada-based Tahoe Resources.


For those who can’t be present in Reno, please join us by:

1. Sending an email to the Nevada Mining Association

2. Tweeting at the Nevada Mining Association during our delivery of the letter on Thursday, November 13th.

Sample tweet:  @nevadamining: Deny membership to any company that does not uphold #humanrights

3. Leaving a message for the president of the Nevada Mining Association on Thursday, November 13th (tomorrow!) at 775-829-2121.

Sample SHORT script: Hi, my name is ________ and I’m calling from [state]. I’m calling to let Mr. Tim Crowley know that I support residents of Nevada in calling for you to revoke the membership of Kappes, Cassiday & Associates. All US companies should uphold the highest human rights and environmental standards, and the Nevada Mining Association should deny membership to those who don’t, like KCA.

Sample LONG script
:
Hi, my name is ________ and I’m calling from [state]. I’m calling to leave a message for Mr. Tim Crowley.

I’ve been shocked to hear that US companies, including members of the Nevada Mining Association, have continued their operations in Guatemala despite ongoing human rights violations.

If the Association wants to live up to its claim to be “a worldwide leader in mining and mining practices” it should deny membership to any company that does not uphold the highest human rights and environmental standards. I join with residents of Nevada in calling for you to revoke the membership of Kappes, Cassiday & Associates and deny any future membership to Tahoe Resources. Continue reading

Five Years Later: Celebrating the Life of Adolfo Ich Chamán

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GHRC stands in solidarity with families and community members gathering today in El Estor, Guatemala to commemorate the five-year anniversary of the assassination of Adolfo Ich Chamán. On September 27 of 2009, Adolfo was murdered by private security forces working for … Continue reading

Carta de Solidaridad: Recordando la vida de Adolfo Ich Chamán

Angelica Choc con una foto de su esposo, Adolfo Ich Chamán. Foto por James Rodríguez.

Angelica Choc with a photo of her husband, Adolfo. Photo by James Rodríguez.

Guatemala, 27 de septiembre de 2014

Han pasado cinco años desde aquel día en que cortaron la vida del profesor Adolfo Ich Chamán. Con su asesinato se hizo evidente, una vez más, que en Guatemala siguen corriendo muchos riesgos quienes tienen como opción de vida trabajar en servicio de los demás. Y ese era Adolfo Ich Chaman, el profesor, el padre, el esposo, el vecino, el ser humano que por sus convicciones a favor de los derechos, la justicia y la vida hoy no está con nosotros físicamente, pero que hoy le estamos recordando. Continue reading

Martial Law Declared Again in Conflict Over Natural Resources

GHRC expresses concern about the declaration of a “State of Prevention” in the municipality of San Juan Sacatepéquez, allegedly in response to acts of violence committed in the community of Los Pajoques on the 19th and 20th of September. Despite the localized nature of the conflict, the administration of President Otto Pérez Molina made the controversial decision to suspend basic constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly, throughout the entire municipality for the next 15 days.

sjs-collage-eblastLos Pajoques is one of twelve communities in San Juan Sacatepéquez that have been involved in an ongoing resistance movement to the construction of a cement quarry and processing plant, and recently have opposed the construction of a highway that would cut through the community on its way to the quarry. Their opposition is grounded in concerns about the profound impact that the operations of the cement factory could have on the environment, in an area renown for the cultivation of vegetables and flowers.

The violence, which reportedly left 11 dead, was a tragic manifestation of the division, tension and desperation that has existed in San Juan Sacatepéquez since the arrival of the powerful cement company, Cementos Progreso, in 2006. Continue reading

CMI Reports Attacks After Coverage in Alta Verapaz

Information provided by the Independent Media Center in Guatemala (CMI-G).

Several attacks were made against the Independent Media Center in Guatemala in the wake of the center’s coverage of a recent violent eviction in the department of Alta Verapaz. In a joint operation carried out by the police, military forces, and some civilians, more than 100 families were displaced, at least five community leaders were arrested, and three people were killed. These events — which occurred in an area where there are strong interests in hydroelectric, extractive, and agricultural mega-projects — have still not been properly investigated or resolved.

Just after the eviction, CMI suffered attacks on its web page and server, which prohibited the immediate publication of information. Then, on August 23, a person who lives in the same house as one of the CMI reporters was kidnapped, harassed, and beaten. Direct threats were also made to the reporter who authored the columns about the eviction at Alta Verapaz.

GHRC echoes CMI’s concerns that this attack represents a growing trend of criminalization and repression of independent journalists and communications professionals. Others have been similarly targeted, such as Ricard Busquets from the Comite de Unidad Campesina (CUC), and Francisca Gómez Grijalva, a journalist who was threatened with trial for writing a column that critiqued industrial manufacturing company Cementos Progreso for abuse of power.

Read the original CMI article in Spanish:

Desde el inicio de la cobertura que realizó un equipo del Centro de Medios Independientes de Guatemala (CMI-G) acerca de los más recientes desalojos en el departamento de Alta Verapaz, realizados por agentes de la Policía Nacional Civil, ejército y algunos civiles que irregularmente los acompañaban, se inició una cadena de ataques, entre ellos informáticos, que impidieron publicar de forma inmediata la información recopilada durante los acontecimientos.1 En esa acción fueron desplazadas más de cien familias, se capturó a cinco líderes comunitarios y tres campesinos fueron asesinados, en hechos hasta ahora no esclarecidos. Continue reading

In Ferguson and in Guatemala

Over the last week, we have listened with growing horror as news reached us from Monte Olivo, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Since 2010, residents of the region who oppose the construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam have been victim to various attacks, including one in August 2013 that left two young boys dead.http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?key=-1&url_num=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Forg.salsalabs.com%2Fo%2F2690%2Fp%2Fdia%2Faction3%2Fcommon%2Fpublic%2F%3Faction_KEY%3D16152

Then, last week, according to the Prensa Comunitaria, the government deployed over 1,000 police to Monte Olivo to evict 160 families of the community 9 de Febrero. As helicopters flew overhead, police and day laborers destroyed homes and assaulted residents, leaving several people injured. Five people were also arrested in Monte Olivo, as well as two others in nearby Raxruhá. In response, hundreds of people blocked the highway to prevent the passage of the police. In an ensuing conflict between protesters and police, three men were killed in the community of Semacoch, allegedly by police gunfire, and several people were injured, including six police. Eight police were also detained by protesters, but have since been released.

Continue reading