Victoria para La Puya: Corte guatemalteca ordena suspensión de trabajos de construcción en la mina El Tambor

La GHRC aplaude el fallo de un tribunal de amparo de Guatemala que el 15 julio ordenó que se realice una consulta de vecinos sobre proyectos que los afecten y ordenó la suspensión de trabajos de construcción en la mina El Tambor.

El fallo es un indicio positivo para los miembros de las municipalidades de San Pedro Ayampuc y San José del Golfo quienes se han unido en resistencia pacífica para oponerse a un proyecto que consideran altamente dañino.

El movimiento conocido como ‘La Puya’ ha mantenido una presencia los 24 horas al día, 365 díal al año en la entrada del sitio por más de tres años. Durante ese tiempo La Puya ha denunciado actos intimidatorios e ilegales de parte de la empresa guatemalteca que posee la licencia de minería, EXMINGUA, junto con su casa matriz Kappes, Cassidy & Associates, empresa estadounidense con sede en Reno, Nevada.

La querella legal presentada en octubre de 2014 por las autoridades de dos comunidades afectadas, El Carrizal y El Guapinol, acusa al gobierno municipal de no cumplir con su deber de actuar por el bien de los ciudadanos.

La denuncia acusa al Consejo Municipal de San Pedro Ayampuc -donde se ubica la mina – de fallar en su deber de detener los trabajos de construcción en la mina y de no defender los intereses de las comunidades afectadas. Argumentan que el Consejo tenía la responsabilidad de actuar dado su conocimiento que la empresa había violado la ley operando sin licencia de construcción, teniendo documentación de preocupaciones sobre la contaminación y la cualidad del agua y por no haber llevado al cabo una válida consulta previa.
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Victory for La Puya: Guatemalan Court Orders Suspension of Construction Operations at the El Tambor Mine

GHRC applauds the July 15 resolution by a Guatemalan appeals court which ruled in favor of the right of residents to be consulted about projects that affect them and ordered the suspension of construction activities at the mine.

The ruling is a positive sign for community members from San Pedro Ayampuc and San Jose del Golfo who have joined together in non-violent resistance to oppose what they see as a deeply harmful mining project.

The movement, known as ‘La Puya,’ has maintained a 24-hour presence at the entrance to the site for over three years. During that time, La Puya has denounced intimidating or illegal actions on the part of the Guatemalan company that holds the mining license, EXMINGUA, as well as by its parent company, Reno-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates.

This legal complaint, however, filed in October 2014 by authorities from two of the affected communities, El Carrizal and El Guapinol, targets the government for its failure to act on behalf of its citizens.

The complaint accuses the Municipal Advisory Council of San Pedro Ayampuc – where the mine site is located – of failing to act to stop construction activity at the mine site and for its failure to defend the interests of the affected communities. They argue the Council had the responsibility to act given their knowledge that the company had broken the law by operating without a construction permit, having documentation regarding concerns about water quality and contamination, and not carrying out valid prior community consultation.
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Guatemala News Update: July 28-August 1

Another threat to the peaceful resistance of La Puya

At 2 a.m. on July 31 in San José del Golfo, employees of Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) and Mining Explorations of Guatemala (EXMINGUA) tried to enter the El Tambor mining site, destroying spaces the San José del Golfo community had been using for cooking, meetings, and celebrations in the process. The workers were trying to move three vans and heavy equipment used for washing minerals onto the site, and at 8:24 am were joined by 200 police officers who threatened the residents of San José del Golfo with eviction if they did not allow the workers to enter the site. The peaceful resistance of La Puya eventually withdrew without using force around 11 a.m. and let the machinery pass onto the site to avoid violence.

Guatemalan Court rules in favor of Sipacapa residents against Goldcorp subsidiary

On March 24 the Mayan Council of Sipacapa demanded that the “Los Chocoyos” mining permit, which was granted to the Goldcorp Inc. subsidiary Entre Mares de Guatemala S.A. by the General Director of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, be canceled. Last Friday, July 18, a Guatemalan court ruled in favor of the residents of Sipacapa and declared that the Guatemalan government must consult with the local population before granting any kind of mining permits, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and ILO 169. Continue reading

Employees of EXMINGUA-KCA plead guilty to threats against journalists

Yesterday, in a ground breaking court case, Juan José Reyes Carrera y retired Guatemalan Army Lt. Pablo Silas Orozco Cifuentes were sentenced to two years in prison for “threats and coercion” against independent journalists reporting on local resistance to a U.S.-owned gold mine.

Reyes and Orozco are both employees of Exmingua, the Guatemalan subsidiary of Nevada-based mining company Kappes, Casssiday & Associates (KCA).

The guilty verdict could set an important precedent in Guatemala where transnational corporations across the country have engaged in similar tactics, hiring locals (often former military officials) and using intimidation to attempt to break grassroots opposition to mines, hydroelectric dams and mega projects.

Since March of 2011, community members from San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have maintained a peaceful roadblock near the entrance to KCA’s “Progreso VII Derivada” gold mine, not allowing any heavy mining machinery to pass. This nonviolent resistance, known as “La Puya,” has faced constant threats and attacks.

On November 22, 2012 Carrera and Orozco arrived at La Puya accompanied by pro-mining shock troops dressed as miners. They began threatening, harassing, and verbally attacking the men, women and children of the resistance. They then turned their verbal assault on the journalists covering the confrontation, calling them“long-haired hippies,” “filthy bastards” and threatening to “cut off their hands” if they kept taking photographs.

As a condition of the plea-bargain that lead to the guilty verdict, both men can avoid serving jail time by paying a fee of Q15,000 (US$1,875) each, which amounts to roughly $3 per day, for the length of their sentence.

Judge Carlos Aguilar rejected a motion by the defense lawyer, Francisco Beltranena, requesting that the daily fine be reduced to one Quetzal (13 US cents).

In his verdict, the judge affirmed that the communities have the right to protest against projects that could negatively impact their health and the environment. He also stated that journalists have the right to gather and transmit information, and that no one can limit the right of any reporter, whether of the mainstream media or not, to carry out their work.

You can read more about the ongoing community resistance at “La Puya” on the GHRC website.

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Condena por agresiones en contra de comunicadores independientes por parte de trabajadores de Exmigua

El día de ayer 17 de octubre, el Juzgado Segundo de Primera Instancia Penal Narcoactividad y Delitos Contra el Ambiente condenó a dos años de cárcel conmutables por los delitos de coacción y amenazas en contra de periodistas independientes, a Juan José Reyes Carrera y al teniente retirado Pablo Silas Orozco Cifuentes, trabajadores de EXMINGUA–KCA,  empresa que pretende construir la mina El Tambor Progreso VII Derivada, en San José de Golfo.

Las penas:

Por el delito de coacción: 1 año de cárcel, conmutable a Q20.00 diarios

Por el delito de amenazas: 1 año de cárcel, conmutable a Q5.00 diarios.

La solicitud del abogado Francisco Beltranena, de considerar conmutables por Q1.00 diario los delitos fue rechazada por el juez.

Las amenazas en contra de los comunicadores se realizaron el 22 de noviembre de 2012, mientras cubrían un intento de desalojo de la resistencia pacífica en La Puya, San José del Golfo.

El juez a cargo del caso, expresó que la población tiene el derecho a protestar sobre las acciones que considere le pueden afectar a su salud, a su medio ambiente y tienen el derecho también de que los medios informen, trasladen la información sobre sus demandas, por lo que no se puede vedar a ningún medio ya sea corporativo o no, realizar su trabajo.

El próximo 24 de octubre, se dará la lectura de la sentencia y el 29 de octubre se realizará la audiencia para conocer la acción reparadora. En la audiencia estuvo presente el coronel retirado Mario Ricardo Figueroa Archila gerente de Exmingua.

La audiencia fue cubierta por medios de comunicación de radio, prensa y televisión.

Algunas notas en los medios sobre la audiencia:

http://noticias.emisorasunidas.com/noticias/nacionales/condenan-dos-hombres-amenazas-periodistas

tp://www.prensalibre.com/noticias/comunitario/trabajadores_de_mina-amenaza_a_periodistas-sentencia_0_1012698849.html

http://www.lahora.com.gt/index.php/nacional/guatemala/actualidad/185403-condenan-a-extrabajadores-de-minera-por-agresion-Image

Weekly News Round Up Feb. 23-Mar.5

Constitutional Court upholds case closure for Efraín Bámaca’s disappearance
The Constitutional Court (CC) has confirmed the closure of the criminal case involving the forced disappearance of Efraín Bámaca. In March 2011, Bámaca’s widow, Jennifer Harbury, brought a criminal complaint against then presidential candidate Pérez Molina for his role in her husband’s disappearance and death. Bámaca (alias Comandante Everardo) disappeared in 1992. According to the military, he committed suicide, but Harbury says that he was actually detained, tortured and killed. In December 2010, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Guatemalan government to re-investigate the case of Bámaca’s forced disappearance. Harbury’s lawyer has indicated that he will take action against Pérez Molina for not fulfilling the IACHR’s demands for a re-investigation of the case.

Constitutional Court rejects legal action filed by Toto indigenous leaders
The Constitutional Court (CC) unanimously rejected the legal action filed by the 48 cantones of Totonicapán against the Mining Law. The court’s decision called on Congress to regulate consultation with indigenous communities as established in ILO Convention number 169. The plaintiffs argue that the Mining Law was issued when there was still a right to consultation under the ILO convention and therefore the law is unconstitutional because it does not respect that right. The trial against the soldiers who fired on the group of protesters in Totonicapán last year is still ongoing. One of the defense lawyers for the accused soldiers says that he will ask for an acquittal. He says that his clients were motivated by “an overwhelming fear”, and thus they are innocent.

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La licencia de la mina El Tambor debería ser suspendida

Robert H. Robinson visitó el punto de resistencia en La Puya, San José del Golfo; conversó con la población, llegó al lugar en donde la mina pretende instalarse y escuchó de voz de sus protagonistas sobre la historia de resistencia pacífica que desde marzo de 2012, la población de San José del Golfo y San Pedro Ayampuc han mantenido.

Robinson y Steve Laudeman, realizaron un análisis al Estudio de Impacto Ambiental de la Mina Progreso VII Derivada (El Tambor). El pasado miércoles 13 de febrero Robinson hizo una presentación del estudio en San José del Golfo.Image

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ImageMilton hace un recorrido a Robinson para que conozca el lugar en  donde pretende instalarse la minera.

ImageEn La Puya, Robinson conoce acerca de la resistencia pacífica, escucha atento sobre las acciones de provocación hechas por supuestos trabajadores de la mina en noviembre y la intimidación y violencia de la que fue objeto la resistencia en diciembre.

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ImageRobinson hace la presentación del análisis realizado al Estudio de Impacto Ambiental hecho por la empresa minera, explica sobre las enormes deficiencias que tiene, pero sobre todo de los enormes riesgos de salud a los que la población cercana a la mina estaría expuesta. La recomendación es clara: suspender la licencia a la Mina Progreso VII Derivada.

Image Al final de la presentación, Kelsey Alford-Jones, Directora de GHRC, hace entrega de una manta elaborada por la delegación de estudiantes de American University, que visitó La Puya en enero pasado: “No están solos, su lucha tiene un impacto mucho más allá de lo local, de lo nacional, alcanza la comunidad internacional, hay mucha gente que está realmente impresionada con todo el esfuerzo y la lucha que ustedes han llevado a cabo”.

ImageYolanda Oquelí, habla sobre la importancia del estudio presentado por Robert Robinson, que reafirma que su preocupación y lucha son legítimas “el no se imagina lo que ha aportado para nosotros…”, con emoción Yolanda expresa que saber que mucha gente en otros países se siente parte de la lucha no tiene precio y no lo paga ningún dinero del mundo.Image

Winner of 2012 Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defender Award Announced

We are proud to announce the recipients of the 2012 Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defender Award: The communities of San Pedro Ayampuc and San José del Golfo, who are peacefully defending their right to a healthy environment.
“Mining exploitation is contamination. Don’t sell your land. Yes to life!” (photo:mimundo.org)
For the past five months, members of these communities have bravely stood up to powerful, transnational corporations who are attempting to build a mine in their midst without consulting residents or even providing information about the project.
Men, women and children have banded together in the spirit of non-violent civil disobedience to block the road and prevent the equipment from entering and destroying the land that is their home and their livelihoods. They have faced death threats, and a nearly fatal assault on one of their members, Yolanda Oquelí.
Come hear two members of the communities, Alvaro Sandoval Palencia and Antonio Reyes Romero, speak about their inspiring struggle at our 30th Anniversary Celebration on September 27th.
Don’t miss out on this amazing event. Buy your tickets now!
Where it says “Enter a description below of how you would like your donation to be used.” be sure to write that the payment is to purchase tickets to the event.More information about how to buy tickets here or email us at ghrc-usa@ghrc-usa.org.