More Families Violently Evicted Over Nickel Mine in Guatemala

(En español abajo)

On the morning of July 10, 2014, 400 members of the Guatemalan National Police, accompanied by private security guards from the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN) — a subsidiary of Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals — violently evicted at least 80 families from the community of Nabalija. CGN claims to be the owner of the land, although families have occupied the area for over a year. The eviction left several people injured.

At a press conference on July 16 in Guatemala City, Angelica Choc spoke out about past abuses committed by CGN — including the murder of her husband, Adolfo Ich, by the the company’s former head of security, as well as the rape of nine women by CGN security officers. An Ontario Court has made a ruling that will allow a case to be brought against HudBay, marking the first time a Canadian company is tried in Canada over actions committed by one of its international subsidiaries.

Angelica Choc speaks at a press conference in Guatemala City.

Angelica Choc speaks at a press conference in Guatemala City.


Las Comunidades Q’eqchi : 30 DE JUNIO SE’CHAJ, ASOCIACIÓN CAMPESINA MAYA Q’EQCHI’, SE’TAL, AGUA CALIENTE LOTE 9, COMUNIDAD 13 DE ABRIL, LOTE 8, LAS NUBES, LA CEIBA y EL ZAPOTILLO, todas del municipio de El Estor, Izaoat

Ante la opinión pública nacional e internacional, exponemos y denunciamos que el territorio del pueblo Q’eqchi’ ubicado en el municipio de El Estor, se viene librando una lucha sin descanso desde el año 1960 hasta hoy día para hacer valer nuestro derecho de acceso a la tierra, a un lugar digno donde vivir, trabajar, alimentar a la familia y fortalecer nuestra cultura e identidad.

El jueves 10 de julio, la Policía Nacional Civil, los guardias de seguridad de la Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel -CGN- y los cuadrilleros contratados por es ta empresa, actuaron en contra de Comunidad 30 de junio Se’ Chaj, en el marco de una serie de ilegalidades: (1). La jueza Sandra Janeth Méndez Nájera autorizó el desalojo, pero nunca le notificó a la comunidad. (2). Sin enseñar la orden de desalojo los policías comenzaron a disparar bombas lacrimógenas en contra las mujeres y la niñez que se encontraba en la comunidad 30 de junio Se’Chaj. (3). El resultado ae esta acción violenta, por los grupos ya mencionados, es de 3 jóvenes heridos, cuyos nombres no se mencionan por temor a represalias, también fueron quemadas varias viviendas. (4). 15 estudiantes, que se encontraban en el interior de ia escuela, ubicada a 100 metros, del lugar donde se llevó a cabo el desalojo violento, resultaron intoxicados por las bombas lacrimógenas.

Por eso denunciamos públicamente que la Jueza, Sandra Yaneth Méndez, ha estado siempre a favor de la empresa CGN. Es la tercera vez que acciona en contra de las comunidades Q’eachi’ lo que nos hace pensar que está parcializada a favor de la Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel. La primera vez, en el desalojo al Lote 8, Lote 9 y Setal, acompañó a los guardias de seguridad privada de dicha empresa, también ha protegido a sicarios contratados por la CGN. muy bien identificados por las comunidades, este grupo paralelo intentó masacrar ¡as familias que se encontraban en la comunidad SETAL, el 30 de junio de 2012

Responsabilizamos del desalojo violento, realizado el 10 de julio de los presente año, al Gobierno de Otto Pérez Molina, ai gobernador departamental de Izabal y a la Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel CGN, ya que dicha empresa pretende despojarnos de nuestras tierras a cualquier costo, actuando muchas veces con el respaldo de instituciones gubernamentales ya que el 30 de mayo de este año el presidente Otto Pérez Molina autorizó y participó en la inauguración de una nueva fase de explotación minera de esa empresa. La imposición de la misma ha sido contra la voluntad de las comunidades afectadas y nunca se hizo ía consulta previa como reza ei convenio 169 de la OIT.

Ante estos hechos, las comunidades Q’eqcht’s exigimos:

Al ministro de gobernación que cesen les desalojos en contra de nuestras comunidades. Y que no defiendan los intereses de la Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel que está violentando los derechos de miles de familias Q’eqchi’.

A la institucionalídad agrada dei país atender, de urgencia, las demandas de legalización de tierra para las comunidades Q’eqchi’ del municipio de El Estor, Izabal.

Al Ministerio Público que investigue a ios cuerpos paralelos de seguridad de la CGN que participaron en el desalojo violento del 10 de julio último y del atentado armado en contra de las familias de la comunidad Setal el 30 de junio del año 2012.

A los jueces que respeten los procesos de d:áiogc y negociación que las comunidades Q’eqchi’ llevan con la institucionalidad agraria de este país, para ia legalización de sus tierras y no emitan ordenes de Desalojo a su saoor y antojo o valiéndose solamente por la información que ies brinca la CGN y otros empresarios. También les exigimos imparcialidad en sus sentencias.

Al Ministerio Público a la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos, a la Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala CICIG y al Alto Comisionado de los Derechos Humanos de las Naciones unidas que se investiguen el actuar de la jueza Sandra Yaneth Méndez ya consideramos que dicha acción judicial (desalojo violento del 10 de julio), no está apegado a derecho.

A la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos que rinda un informe verídico y objetivo del desalojo violento llevado a cabo el 10 de julio contra la Comunidad 30 de junio Se’ Chaj y que se forme una comisión permanente para verificar las constantes violaciones a nuestros derechos que comete personal de la CGN.

Hacemos un llamado a la población de E! Esíor a organizamos en contra de los atropellos que estarnos viviendo. No permitamos que la CGN siga abusando de nuestros derechos. Y por nuestra vida y ía vida de nuestros hijos e hijas defendamos el poco territorio que nos queda.

Consideramos que ¡a solución a la problemática social que ha generado la CGN en la región, es que el Estado de Guatemala, haciendo uso de su soberanía y rescatando su dignidad cancele las licencias de explotación otorgadas a dicha empresa.

¡LA MADRE TIERRA NO SE COMPRA NI SE VENDE, SE RECUPERA Y SE DEFIENDE!

EL ESTOR, IZABAL, 15 DE JULIO 2014

Another Land Rights Leader Is Criminalized in Guatemala

CUC Coordinator Daniel Pascual at a march in 2012. Photo by James Rodríguez.

CUC Coordinator Daniel Pascual at a march in 2012. Photo by James Rodríguez.

*Summary of an article from the Centro de Medios Independientes (Center for Independent Media) called “Libertad de Expresión en disputa” (Freedom of Expression in dispute)

On July 8, Daniel Pascual, coordinator for the Committee for Campesino Unity (CUC), spoke at a public hearing in Guatemala’s Constitutional Court about the importance of protecting both Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Expression. Around 300 community members, authorities and social leaders from all over Guatemala came to support Pascual and CUC.

Recently, the Third Chamber of the Court of Appeals ruled that individuals who do not practice journalism in any of its forms can be held criminally responsible for their publications. The CUC sees this as a violation of fundamental rights that puts democracy at risk, and for this reason has brought this ruling to the highest court. The action also appears to be a case of criminalization of one of the leading land rights leaders in Guatemala.

In January of 2013, Pascual was accused by Ricardo Méndez Ruíz, of the Foundation Against Terrorism, of claiming that Ruíz was planning his assassination, and is now being charged with defamation, libel and injury.

Pascual says that Ruíz is manipulating statements he made at a press conference in January 2013 regarding aggressions he had faced as a member of CUC. At the press conference, Pascual named Ruíz, among others, as having defamed both the CUC and his own person in newspaper columns, flyers, and online. However, Pascual maintains that he never said Ruíz – or anyone else – was planning to assassinate him.

“What we seek is to prevent freedom of expression from being penalized in Guatemala,” said Pascual. “If the Court rejects this appeal, it would endanger democracy and the freedoms of every human being.”

Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative Recognized with International Human Rights Award

GHRC congratulates the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative for being chosen as the 2014 recipient of the Letelier-Moffitt International Award for Human Rights [1], presented by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

Co-founded in 2010 by Just Associates (JASS) Mesoamerica, the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative is a collaboration of five organizations, including GHRC partner UDEFEGUA.

The Initiative works to strengthen and protect female human rights activists in Mexico and Central America who are attacked and even killed for their work. It does this by providing women defenders with rapid-response networks, training in human rights, security and self-care, assistance in documenting cases of attacks and publishing in-depth gendered analysis of the violence the women defenders face.

Read more about the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative (IM-DEFENSORAS) here.


[1] The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) created the Letelier-Moffitt International Award for Human Rights to honor the memory of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt, IPS colleagues murdered in Washington D.C. in 1976 by a car bomb denoted by agents of Chile’s dictator Augusto Pinochet. While paying homage to Letelier and Moffitt, the award celebrates “new heroes of the human rights movement from the US and the Americas.”

GHRC Congratulates FAMDEGUA on 22 Years of Searching for Truth, Justice, and Memory

On the 22nd anniversary of its founding, GHRC would like to recognize the important and brave work carried out by the women and men of the Asociación Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos de Guatemala (The Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained in Guatemala), also known by its Spanish acronym, FAMDEGUA.

Members and supporters of FAMDEGUA attend a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral to commemorate the organization's 22-year anniversary.

Members and supporters of FAMDEGUA attend a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral to commemorate the organization’s 22-year anniversary.

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Victories for Communities Affected by the Chixoy Dam

On Wednesday, May 28, over 1,000 men and women from the communities of Rio Negro left their homes. Traveling on dirt roads, over rocky mountain passes, and up a rain-swollen river they gathered at the resettlement village of Pacux. At 2 am the following morning, they boarded dozens of buses bound for Guatemala City. Six hours later, drawing on strength born of righteous indignation, they began their protest in front of the office of President Otto Perez Molina. They vowed to sleep in the streets, if necessary, until the President heard their message.

The signs carried by protesters and the slogans they shouted made clear their single demand: full implementation of a reparations plan — promised by the Guatemalan government — for damages they suffered over 30 years earlier due to the construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam. Stand with the communities by taking action now. Continue reading

Review of Environmental Impact Study for El Tambor Mine Reveals Severe Shortcomings, Vindicates Concerns Raised by Local Communities

By Lydia Cocom

Lydia Cocom is a GHRC Summer 2014 Intern

Dr. Robert Moran, a respected water quality, geochemical, and hydro-ecological specialist, reviewed the Progreso VII Environmental Impact Study for the El Tambor mining project and found it full of misleading information, faulty or absent data, and concerning omissions and ambiguities. Dr. Moran was interviewed by journalist Carolina Gamazo from Plaza Pública and has also written a report summarizing his findings. He warns that the mining project will likely cause a decrease in the local water supply as well as the contamination of ground and surface water. His conclusions support the gravity of concerns raised by local leaders, as well as members of the resistance movement La Puya, regarding the serious environmental and public health impact that the mining project will have on their communities.

According to Dr. Moran’s report:

  • “The Progreso VII EIA is the worst quality EIA / EIS I have reviewed in more than 42 years of professional hydrogeology / geochemistry experience, involving hundreds of mines, worldwide.”
  • “[The study] would not be acceptable in developed countries, i.e. Canada, USA, EU, Australia, etc.”

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Letter to the World Bank: Reparations for Communities Affected by the Chixoy Dam

On June 2, thirty four (34) non-governmental organizations from around the world sent a letter to the World Bank’s Executive Directors asking that the World Bank Board delay its vote on a $340 million development policy loan to the Government of Guatemala. The vote is scheduled for June 4, 2014. The organizations ask for postponement of the vote until long-overdue reparations are formalized and begun for Mayan communities impacted by the construction of the large-scale Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam in the 1980’s, which was built despite clear violations of World Bank safeguards. Continue reading

New Report Explores Harmful Impacts of Canadian Mining in Latin America

MarlinMine1

A crater and contaminated rubble — results of the Marlin Mine in Guatemala. Photo by James Rodríguez

A recent report presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) explores the growing presence of Canadian mining companies in Latin America, highlighting a series of environmental and social concerns, and raising questions about who should ultimately be held responsible for violations related to Canadian-owned projects. The report, titled The Impact of Canadian Mining in Latin America and Canada’s responsibility [full report in Spanish], was written by a working group made up of six civil society organizations from Latin America and one from the US, with input from twenty-two additional Latin America-based organizations. Continue reading

Guatemalan Congress Seeks Impunity for Genocide

This week 87 members of the Guatemalan Congress passed a resolution denying the existence of genocide during the country’s internal armed conflict. The statement is not legally binding, but is the latest attempt to delegitimize the genocide case and create a de facto amnesty; it also raises concerns that the Congress may be looking to legislate new amnesty provisions.

The resolution was proposed by Congressman Luis Fernando Pérez of the PRI (formerly FRG), the party founded by General Efraín Ríos Montt, who was tried last year on charges of genocide. The statement describes national discussion surrounding genocide as polarizing, as well as an impediment to reconciliation. The resolution also states, “We are committed to study the legislation issued within the framework of the peace agreements.” Continue reading

Commemorating the Genocide Sentence; Guatemala’s New Attorney General

Today, on the one-year anniversary of the genocide sentence, we reaffirm our solidarity with the thousands of Ixil victims and survivors who have witnessed so much suffering, and with those who continue fighting for justice and dignity.

On May 10, 2013, Guatemalan courts handed down an 80-year sentence against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and war crimes against the Maya Ixil people — a sentence that was a historic step for Guatemala, and for the global community working for justice.

The verdict not only represented justice for the 1,771 Ixil men, women and children assassinated between March 1982 and August 1983, but also for their surviving family members and the thousands of victims from across the country of the internal armed conflict. It signified, too, the possibility of justice for victims who had buried their traumas in silence for more than 30 years, and endured the indifference of a society that has gone so far as to deny that the events even occurred.

A Mayan ceremony performed outside the court asking for justice; General Rios Montt hours before a verdict was handed down Continue reading