Acción Urgente: Demanda que Empresa Minera Estadounidense Suspenda sus Operaciones Ilegales en la Mina El Tambor

Firma la petición para demandar que la empresa minera KCA suspenda sus operaciones ilegales en Guatemala:

(Texto para la petición

La empresa minera estadounidense Kappes, Cassidy & Associates (KCA) y su subsidiaria guatemalteca han insistido en ir adelante con el proyecto minero El Tambor pese a la oposición fuerte y sin consultar con los vecinos sobre el proyecto como requiere la ley guatemalteca e internacional.

Ahora, el 15 de julio, falló una corte guatemalteca a favor de los residentes ordenando la suspensión de construcción de parte de KCA en la mina de oro El Tambor hasta que se realice una consulta de vecinos y el proyecto sea aprobado por los residentes. La corte ordenó que el municipio donde se ubica la mina asegure que EXMINGUA, la filial de KCA, cumpla con la orden dentro de 15 días.

Esta es una oportunidad importante para apoyar los derechos de la comunidad por encima de los intereses de corporaciones. Es bien probable que EXMINGUA apele la sentencia. Por favor firme nuestra petición ahora para instar que KCA simple y sencillamente cumpla con este fallo. Continue reading

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

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.

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

Congress Poised to Vote on Unaccompanied Minors

Right now in Congress, our elected officials are considering lifting important protections for migrant children currently provided under the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) — a law which requires children to have a hearing before a judge and to have an attorney present.

We must demand that our elected officials ensure the safety of children arriving at the US border.
You can take action now by signing our petition calling for Congress to protect Central American children.
Continue reading

Adding muscle to the Guatemalan military?


Military bases opened in Guatemala in 2012 (

Military bases opened in Guatemala in 2012 (

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel heads to Guatemala this week to “add muscle and sinew” to defense ties between that country and the United States and highlight the importance of helping partner nations improve their militaries. However, a recently released United Nations 2013 Global Study on Homicide offered alternative methods of combating the violence plaguing Guatemala.

Besides Hagel’s trip, Guatemala has received various high level visits from US officials over the last several months focused on security cooperation, including General John Kelly, head of US Southern Command, and Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, William Brownfield. The increased attention has corresponded with an increase in security assistance as well. Guatemala jumped to the third highest country recipient of Department of Defense military and police aid in Latin America in 2012. The US State Department has also provided significant funding to a joint task force on Guatemala’s northern border with Mexico, and has donated 42 vehicles to a recently announced base on Guatemala’s southern border with Honduras.

Continue reading

Urgent action to avoid further violence in Huehuetenango, Guatemala

Urgent! Communities in Huehuetenango are under siege by Guatemalan military and police. The security forces were sent to break up peaceful protests in reaction to the illegal detention of a local resident. Several people have already been injured and we fear that there could be further violence.

Please call the Guatemalan Embassy to express concern about the safety of peaceful protesters in Huehuetenango. Urge the Guatemalan government to avoid further conflict, uphold the rule of law and respect human rights. 
In the US: 202-745-4953. In Canada: 613-233-7188.

Please tweet at the Guatemalan government to ask them to avoid further conflict and ensure the human rights of peaceful protesters. Suggested tweets (with translations to English) are below.

Over the last few years, various municipalities in northern Huehuetenango have protested against planned mega-development projects including the Canbalam Dam in Santa Cruz Barillas. Recently, protests have included roadblocks across the region to pressure the Guatemalan Government to enter into a real, public dialogue with those opposed to the projects
On Sept. 28, Mynor López, who has been active in the resistance movement, was seized by men in civilian clothes, taken to a military helicopter, then handed over to the police. In response to the abduction, protests erupted across northern Huehuetenango, blocking various roads. The government mobilized hundreds of police and soldiers to break up the protests using tear gas launched from army helicopters as well as live rounds fired by security forces. A soldier was killed in the clashes. Despite evidence that his injuries were self-inflicted while attempting to fire a tear gas canister, the government publicly blamed protesters for his death.
In addition, the Interior Minister announced that 40 arrest warrants would be carried out for various acts allegedly committed since 2011. Over the past year and a half, over a dozen community members have been arrested for their resistance to the Canbalam Dam. Several of them were incarcerated for up to eight months before being released because of a lack of evidence against them.
A delegation organized by the International Commission of Jurists visited Mynor in jail and report that he shows evidence of physical violence, even torture.
Community members are now asking the government to respect an agreement reached on September 30 to withdraw security forces and have a real dialogue regarding the proposed hydroelectric dam. Can you stand with them and help prevent further bloodshed?

Suggested Tweets

@ottoperezmolina Decimos no al uso del ejército o un estado de sitio para reprimir a protestas pacificas y legitimas en Huehue  #Guatemala

(We say no to the use of the army or a state of siege to repress legitimate and peaceful protests in Huehue #Guatemala)

@mlopezbonilla Garantice la protección, bienestar y los #derechoshumanos de los ciudadanos en Huehue #Guatemala

(You must guarantee the protection, well-being and #humanrights of citizens in Huehue #Guatemala)

@pncguatemala Insisto que dejen de usar la violencia en Huehue #Guatemala y que se retiren del lugar para evitar más conflictos

(I insist that you stop using violence in Huehue #Guatemala and that you remove yourself from the area to avoid further conflict)

@GuatemalaGob Respeten los #derechoshumanos en Huehue #Guatemala. Cese la violencia contra las manifestaciones pacificas.

(Respect #human rights in Huehue #Guatemala. Stop the violence against peaceful protests)

@PDHGt Pedimos que hagan una visita a Huehue #Guatemala para monitorear la situación y la integridad de los detenidos

(We ask that you visit Huehue #Guatemala to monitor the situation and the well-being of those detained)

@Oacnudh_GT Pedimos que hagan una visita a Huehue #Guatemala para monitorear la situación y la integridad de los detenidos

(We ask that you visit Huehue #Guatemala to monitor the situation and the well-being of those detained)

@usembassyguate We are very concerned about the situation in Huehue #Guatemala and the evidence of #humanrights abuses against protestors

@mlopezbonilla @ottoperezmolina Hay que respetar el acuerdo con las comunidades ayer para evitar más conflicto en Huehue #Guatemala

(You must respect the agreement reached with the communities yesterday to avoid more conflict in Huehue #Guatemala)

GHRC Target of Hate for Commemorating Victims of Genocide

On Saturday, we at GHRC had the pleasure of taking part in a powerful art installation in Washington, DC. After three years of preparation, the organization One Million Bones blanketed a section of the National Mall with bones made of various materials to bring attention to genocide committed around the world. The organizers of One Million Bones had extended a special invitation to GHRC and the Guatemala community to take part and commemorate Guatemala’s genocide victims.

GHRC staff, interns and volunteers, joined thousands of others in laying out the bones. Our group took the opportunity to read the names of the victims in the Ixil Triangle included in the charges against former generals Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez.

onemillionbonesWe posted a photo of the event on our Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, and were shocked to see the response. Our wall was covered by an energetic debate about genocide in Guatemala. It was heartwarming to see all the comments in support of justice for victims, but sad to see that there were also many comments full of hate, anger, and denial of the crimes committed against Guatemala’s indigenous people.

Unfortunately, many of the people who posted on our wall are the same people who have been spreading the same messages of hate and denial in the Guatemalan media and organizing protests in support of those who committed atrocities.

The courageous genocide survivors, along with their lawyers, the judges, and the organizations who support justice, have been victim to this type of attack constantly since the Ríos Montt trial began. The messages in the media in Guatemala are not just slander. They are threats of violence. For example, Ricardo Méndez Ruiz, founder of the Foundation Against Terrorism, who posted on our wall, said in an interview with Guatemalan TV station Guatevision that the civil society leaders pushing for justice could be assassinated. In his post on GHRC’s facebook page, he called us a “terrorist organization.”

We don’t want to hide this debate going on in Guatemalan society, but we adamantly condemn the use of defamation, threats and messages of hate. We would love to see our page covered with messages of support for justice and for the victims and survivors of genocide. Can you add your voice

Continue reading

Communities in Resistance in San Jose del Golfo under attack.


Women at the roadblock pray and sing as the face off against anti-riot police. (photo: Marcha Indigena Campesina y Popular)

mujeres en resistencia

Women lay down in the road continuing their resistance after suffering from tear gas exposure. (Photo: Marcha Indigena Campesian y Popular)

mujeres y policia

The police lined up in three rows, with the largest in front, the tear gas lauchers behind them, and a group with batons and sticks behind them. (photo: Centro de Medios Independientes Guatemala)

todos somos la puya

In response to the threat of eviction, women’s organizations gathered in front of the Interior Ministry demanding a peaceful settlement to the problem.


A “dialogue table” was called at the site of the roadblock including government representatives, community members, and human rights defenders, including GHRC’s Rob Mercatante. (photo: Radio Punto)


Alberto Brunori of the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights was also present. (photo: Radio Punto)


At the end of the day, the government agreed to remove the majority of the police, but leave 15 to “guard the mine.” (photo: Marcha Indigenia Campesina y Popular)

On December 7th,  the communities in resistance to mining in San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc held their ground at the roadblock they have maintained since March of this year as the police attempted to forcefully evict them.

At 6am, anti-riot police arrived at the roablock in San Jose del Golfo and began tearing down the banners and other installations. They also arrested at least 5 people for supposedly obstructing the road, though the protesters have only been blocking the entrance of mining equipment, not other traffic.

Police shot tear gas at the protesters, which include children and men and women of all ages. Several people, including two young girls, have been treated for tear gas exposure.

Despite this aggression, the peaceful protesters have held their ground. They  laid down on the street with makeshift masks covering their faces, and sang hymns to give themselves courage. Meanwhile, the police tore apart the makeshift kitchen that the protesters have been using to feed themselves, and stole food and water.

the office of the Human Rights Ombudsman, present on the scene, suggested opening a dialogue between the protesters and the government, but the government rejected the idea. Interior Minister Lopez Bonilla was quoted as saying that there could well be more arrests, and that the police would keep using force if need be to open access for the mining company.

Attorney Sergio Vives explained that the actions of the police are illegal, as there is no order for the eviction of the communities. 

Please contact the Guatemalan government to express your concern for these peaceful protesters and demand that those detained are accorded all their legal rights. 


Three pieces of breaking news at the end of the day.

1) Those detained at the roadblock this morning have been freed. They were taken to the city, but the judge there rejected their case and sent it back to the Judge of the Peace in San Pedro Ayampuc.

2) The government has agreed to remove the majority of the police from the roadblock. 15 of them will stay over the weekend to “guard the mine” but the rest of them will leave for now.

3) In statements directly contradicting this, the Interior Minister announced in a press conference that the government will take the steps necessary to open the road to the mine. He also insultingly accused “international organizations” of inciting the community members and said that those guilty of incitation would be expelled.






Rich Grounds for Justice

Children mourn their fathers killed at the protest in Totonicapán. (Photo:Plaza Publica)

On October 4th, an estimated 15,000 protesters gathered to block the highways around the town of Totonicapán, Guatemala. They took this drastic step because they saw no other way to be heard by the Government of Otto Pérez Molina. As has been characteristic of this administration, the government responded to the protests by sending both police and soldiers, a decision which had deadly consequences.

While the police hung back miles away from the roadblocks, one Colonel ignored police orders and advanced. In the ensuing conflict, at least six people were killed and over 33 wounded.

At the same time that Guatemalan soldiers were firing indiscriminately at protesters, U.S. Marines were running joint missions with the Guatemalan military off the South Coast of the country. According to the military’s own sources, the result of these missions, with almost 200 US marines deployed for two months, was only 14 arrests and 10 drug seizures. The cost: any moral authority the US might have had to condemn the use of the military against civilians. How can the US tell Guatemala that the military shouldn’t act as police when we’re sending down US soldiers to fight crime?

So the pressure and condemnation must come from those of us who stand in solidarity with the people of Guatemala. Thanks to all of you, we’ve gathered almost 9,000 signatures on our petition to the Guatemalan Government demanding an investigation into the massacre in Totonicapán—a true investigation, not just into who fired shots, but who gave the orders.

We have also spent the last year meeting with the offices of members of the US Congress to ensure that the existing ban on funding to the Guatemalan Army remains in place. Though the ban covers only a small portion of overall US funding, it stands as an important tool to pressure Guatemala to respect the human rights of its citizens.

We can’t do this work without your support. A large part of our funding comes from individual donors including monthly donors, who sign up to donate online every month. This provides GHRC with a steady, reliable source of income, which allows us to plan for the future and expand our programs. Sign up to be a monthly donor today.

To show our appreciation for our monthly donors, everyone who signs up before November 15th 2012 will receive a bag of Guatemalan Fair Trade Coffee. This way you can support GHRC’s work for human rights and the CCDA coffee cooperative on the shores of Lake Atitlan at the same time.

GHRC Condemns Attempted Assassination of Yolanda Oquelí / GHRC denuncia atentado contra Yolanda Oquelí

[en español abajo]

The Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA denounces the attempted assassination of community leader and anti-mining activist, Yolanda “Yoli” Oquelí.

On June 13th, at approximately 6:30pm, Yoli was ambushed by two men on a motorcycle while driving to her home in San José del Golfo. She was shot at repeatedly; one bullet entered above her right kidney.

Yoli was immediately rushed to a public hospital by community members where she underwent emergency surgery. She is currently in stable condition.

Yoli has been a vocal and passionate opponent of the installation of extractive mining operations in the communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc. Her inspiring leadership is just one example of the coordinated efforts of men, women and children in these communities to say “NO” to mining and its potentially devastating effects on local drinking water, farming land and the environment in general.

However, two international corporations refuse to respect the will of these communities: the Canadian mining corporation Radius Gold and the U.S. engineering firm Kappes, Cassiday & Associates. Through their Guatemalan subsidiary Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala (Exmingua) they continue to push their open-pit and underground gold mining operation known as the Tambor Mine.

On March 2, 2012, local residents started a roadblock in order to prevent tractors, excavators and other mining equipment from entering their communities. Those who take turns guarding the roadblock have sworn to embrace the practice of nonviolent, peaceful resistance in defense of their rights.

On May 8th, a caravan of mining machinery, accompanied by hundreds of Guatemalan riot police, arrived in the middle of the night in an attempt to break the roadblock. They were unsuccessful.

Days before the attempt on her life, Yoli and other pro-environment activists presented a series of formal complaints to the Public Ministry regarding acts of intimidation, threats, and criminalization that they have suffered as a result of their defense of their natural resources.

To the Guatemala Government and the International community, GHRC declares:

* We denounce and condemn this latest attack on the brave women and men who, through the use of peaceful protest and nonviolent demonstration, are defending their rights to clean water, a healthy environment, and self-determination.

* We call on the Guatemalan authorities to investigate, capture, and prosecute all those responsible for this heinous crime; the hired guns as well as those who planned the assassination.

* We insist that authorities guarantee the safety and well-being of the community members of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc and to find a negotiated solution to this conflict which prioritizes the needs of the Guatemalan people over the profits of international corporations.

* GHRC stands in solidarity with Yolanda and wishes her a quick and complete recovery. We offer our heartfelt sympathy for her family, especially her two young children, for the fear and trauma that this attacked most assuredly had provoked.

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You can take action to support Yoli and her community by signing GHRC’s petition

La Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala en Washington, EE.UU. (GHRC) denuncia el atentado contra la vida de Yolanda “Yoli” Oquelí, lideresa comunitaria y activista en el movimiento antiminero.

El 13 de junio, aproximadamente a las 6:30pm, Yoli se dirigía a su casa en San José del Golfo cuando fue atacada por dos hombres en una moto. Dispararon varias veces; una bala entró cerca a su hígado.

De inmediato, Yoli fue conducida a un hospital público por miembros de la comunidad, donde la atendieron de emergencia. Actualmente se encuentra en condición estable.

Yoli ha trabajado de forma muy visible y apasionada en oposición a las operaciones de la minería extractiva en las comunidades de San José del Golfo y San Pedro Ayampuc. Su liderazgo inspirador es solo uno de los múltiples ejemplos de los esfuerzos coordinados entre los hombres, mujeres y jóvenes de estas comunidades para decir ´NO´ a la minería y sus impactos negativos, dentro de los cuales se incluye la contaminación del agua potable del área, de las cosechas y del medio ambiente en general.

Sin embargo, dos empresas internacionales niegan respetar la voluntad de estas comunidades: la corporación minera canadiense Radius Gold y la firma de ingeniería estadounidense Kappes, Cassiday&Associates. A través de su subsidiario Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala (Exmingua) siguen impulsando su proyecto de minería subterráneo y a cielo abierto conocido como la Mina Tambor.

El 2 de marzo de 2012, miembros de la comunidad iniciaron un bloqueo con el fin de prevenir la entrada de los tractores, excavadoras y otro equipo de minería. Los que se turnan para mantener el bloqueo se han comprometido en abrazar la práctica de resistencia pacífica y la no violencia en la defensa de sus derechos.

El 8 de mayo, una caravana de maquinaria de minería, resguardada por cientos de agentes antimotines de la Policía Nacional Civil, llegó a la medianoche intentando quebrantar el bloqueo. No tuvieron éxito.

Unos días antes del atentado contra su vida, Yoli y otros defensores del ambiente presentaron una serie de denuncias ante el Ministerio Público sobre actos de intimidación, amenazas y criminalización que han sufrido como resultado de su defensa de sus recursos naturales.

GHRC manifiesta ante el Gobierno de Guatemala y la comunidad internacional que:

• Denunciamos y condenamos este último ataque contra las mujeres y hombres valientes quienes, a través de la protesta pacífica y la manifestación no violenta, defienden sus derechos al agua limpia, a un medio ambiente sano y la auto-determinación.

• Hacemos un llamado a las autoridades guatemaltecas a investigar, capturar y sancionar a aquellos responsables por este crimen atroz; tanto los autores materiales como intelectuales.

• Instamos a las autoridades a que garanticen la seguridad y bienestar de los miembros de la comunidades San José del Golfo y San Pedro Ayampuc y que encuentren una solución a través del diálogo la cual da prioridad a las necesidades del pueblo de Guatemala y no a las ganancias de las multinacionales.

• Expresamos nuestra solidaridad con Yolanda y esperamos que se recupere rápidamente y completamente. Ofrecemos nuestro respaldo a su familia, en especial a sus dos hijos pequeños, por el miedo y el trauma que este ataque sin duda ha provocado.

Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala en Washington, EE.UU. Washington, DC
14 de junio de 2012

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Se puede tomar acción para expresar su apoyo de Yoli y su comunidad a través de nuestra petición.