News Update: July 11-July 24

Mining

Suspension of mining license in San Rafael

The Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals suspended the mining license for the San Rafael Mine, El Escobal.  It also ordered the Director of the mine, Fernando Castellanos, of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, to negotiate the complaints presented by social organizations against mining activities.  The sentence was given by the Center of Legal, Social and Environmental Action (Calas).

Three lawsuits against HudBay in Canada to move forward

The lawsuits seek to hold Hudbay Minerals responsible for shootings and gang rapes committed by their subsidiary in El Estor, Guatemala. After the ruling by a Candadian judge, the cases can move forward in Canadian courts. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, 13 Mayan Guatemalans, said the decision is a “wake-up call” for Canadian companies about their responsibilities at foreign mining projects.

Congress hears mining license moratorium proposal

When Congress was presented with the Executive’s proposal to put a moratorium on mining licenses for two years, they said it will not go into effect immediately because it needs to be read thoroughly, sent to the Energy and Mine Commission, and later returned to start the discussion.  The goal of the proposal is to give Congress time to reform the current mining law, and eventually to reduce social conflict.

Mining license moratorium is harshly criticized

Many environmentalists are skeptical that the proposal to place a moratorium on new mining licenses came too late.  In the days before President Otto Perez Molina announced the moratorium, many mining licenses were distributed.  However, others say it is still important because it will trigger a dialogue between the public and the industries.

Another criticism came from The Center of Legal, Environmental and Social Action (Calas), who spoke out against the granting of seven metal mining licenses at a national level.  They are accusing Fernando Castellanos, General Director of Mining, for this illegal action.

In other news:

Internet series about the Rios Montt Trial unveiled

A new internet series about the Rios Montt Trial was produced by Skylight Pictures.  The series is titled “Dictator in the Dock,” and consists of 24 episodes that reproduce the trial and sentencing of Rios Montt and Rodriguez Sanchez.  Impunity Watch will make a special version of the series in September for academic purposes.

March against cement company in San Juan Sacatepéquez

In San Juan Sacatepéquez, during the ceremony celebrating the building of Cementos Progreso’s cement factory, about 10,000 people marched to protest its presence in their communities.  This construction plan has been in effect for 6 years, but not until now is the company beginning construction.

Increase in violence against women

The Group of Guatemalan Women found a 25% increase of violent deaths of women between the months of January and June, compared with the same time period last year.  This year, a total of 412 women were murdered.

Indigenous community asks for law regarding disappearances

Dozens of people from Huehuetenango had a meeting with members of the National Commission for the Search for Victims of Forced Disappearance and other Forms of Disappearance.  They asked for the approval of Law 35-90, which favors the search of victims of disappearances from the internal armed conflict.

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