Guatemala News Update: March 30 – April 10

Hudbay Minerals/CGN Former Head of Security on Trial in Guatemala for Mining-related Violence

The criminal trial against the former security chief of mining company Hudbay Minerals/CGN, Mynor Padilla, began on April 8 in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. Padilla is charged with the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán and the wounding of at least ten others who opposed Hudbay/CGN’s nickel mining project in El Estor.

Unfortunately, this is only one example of the violent encounters provoked by extractive projects in Guatemala. Hubday Minerals is already facing lawsuits in Canadian courts for other crimes related to their activities in Guatemala.

Human Rights Defender Assassinated Near Tahoe Resources Mine

On Sunday, April 5, Telesforo Pivaral — a community member from San Rafael Las Flores — was murdered. Pivaral had been a member of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace of San Rafael Las Flores, and was active in the resistance to the “El Escobal” mining project.

Oxfam’s office in Guatemala and 23 other organizations are joining together to call for the Guatemalan government to investigate the attack. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: March 2-6

Vice President Biden Visits Guatemala

Joe Biden met with the presidents of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to discuss in detail the Alliance for Prosperity Plan. Following an initial meeting, Biden and the presidents of the Northern Triangle countries payed a visit to the Ixchel Museum to meet with members of the private sector, where Biden stressed the need for business owners to invest in their own countries.

Biden also urged Guatemala to continue the mandate of the International Commission Against Impunity (CICIG), and met with CICIG Commissioner Velazquez to underscore the importance of the commission’s work. In a response to Biden’s comments, President Pérez Molina rejected the notion of using the extension of the CICIG as a precondition for receiving US funding.

“Smaller than David”: The Struggle of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala

Human rights groups The Observatory and UDEFEGUA have launched a report and documentary film about the vulnerability of human rights defenders in Guatemala. The report highlights the targeting of land rights defenders via criminalization, threats and physical violence. Continue reading

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.”

Members of ‘La Puya’ Face Intimidation, New Threats of Eviction

*From Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA):

Throughout the day yesterday, intimidation and threats of eviction by the National Police — at the service of US mining company Kappes, Cassiday and Associates (KCA) — continued against communities in resistance at ‘La Puya.’ Transmac, a local company contracted by KCA, arrived at the mine site with heavy machinery. The private company was escorted by the National Civil Police (PNC) as ordered by the Ministry of the Interior. By mid-day, community pressure forced Transmac to remove the machinery from the area, although two representatives of KCA’s local subsidiary, EXMINGUA, remained throughout the day. The police presence also remained and continued to grow. By 4 pm, there were roughly 300 agents, many of whom were women dressed in full riot gear, lined up outside the entrance to the peaceful encampment. No eviction order had been issued, but the intent was clear: to intimidate and provoke those in resistance.

*From Comunitaria Press:

Nuevamente la resistencia pacífica de La Puya esta siendo amenazada por la presencia de personeros y trabajadores de la empresa minera EXMINGUA – Kappes Cassiday & Associates KCA. Además hay presencia policíaca y del ejército en las cercanías de “La Puya“.

En horas de la mañana de este miércoles 9 de abril 2014, un nuevo contingente de trabajadores mineros pretende ingresar maquinaria y camiones al interior de la finca en donde se encuentra el proyecto minero “El Tambor” Progreso VII Derivada.

A las nueve de la mañana se hicieron presentes un convoy de maquinaria contratada por la por la empresa minera EXMINGUA , esta maquinaria grande y pesada entre ellas una retroexcavadora y camiones de volteo. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading