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

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

Guatemala News Update: June 16-20

Lawsuit filed against Tahoe Resources

A lawsuit is being filed against Tahoe Resources in relation to the violence that occurred during a 2013 peaceful protest at the Escobal silver mine in San Rafael Las Flores. The mine’s security guards are being accused by seven Guatemalans of attacking them and critically injuring Luis Fernando García Monroy after shooting him three times, once in the face. The lawsuit also accuses Tahoe’s Chief of Security in Guatemala, Alberto Rotondo, of various crimes, including ordering the attack on the peaceful protestors, fabricating a story that the demonstrators attacked mine employees, and arranging the tampering of evidence. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: December 7-13

Court endorses community referendums on mining

The Constitutional Court ruled that municipal governments must respect the results of consultas comunitarias (community referendums) on whether mining projects can be developed in their towns. The court also affirmed that the results of community referendums should be submitted to the national authorities who grant mining licenses.

The court’s ruling rejected the appeal of unconstitutionality regarding a November 2012 community referendum concerning Tahoe Resource’s San Rafael Mine in the municipality of La Villa de Mataquescuintla, Jalapa. The results of this vote revealed that 10,000 people opposed the mine, while only 100 people supported it. The court based its ruling on the ILO Convention 169, which guarantees indigenous communities the right to consultation. In response to the court’s decision, the Guatemalan Chamber of Industry (CIG) and the Union of Extractive Industries (GEE) maintained that community referendums should be used as an indicator to inform decision makers, but not a binding determinant in approving mining projects.

Communities protest Marlin Mine

Beginning last Friday, members from various communities demonstrated against Goldcorp’s mining in Sipacapa, San Marcos by blocking the highway at two different points. This protest came in response to the granting of new licenses for exploration in San Carlos Sija. According to the company, protesters held 35 workers from the Marlin Mine to demand that company authorities provide them a new water source, as mining in the area has contaminated and dried up their water source. Community member Basilio Bámaca assured that no person was being held; rather, the community was just warning miners that from now on they would take action. Representatives of the Marlin Mine said they will help the community access safe water, but added that the disturbances were provoked by outsiders and accused residents of violating the right to free movement and commerce.

Community of Monte Olivo attacked

On Sunday, individuals connected to the Israeli company Energía Limpia de Guatemala (ELG) attacked residents of the Maya Q’eachi’ community Monte Olivo with machetes. Four community members were gravely wounded. The community has been in opposition to the company’s construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam.

Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: November 23 – December 6

chixoy-photoINDE secretly approves company for hydroelectric dam

News came through international sources this week that the National Institute for Electricity (INDE) secretly granted the Brazilian company  Intertechne Consultores rights to the Xalalá hydroelectric project. In January of this year, INDE requested bids for the project, but in April they declared to have deserted the request. The proposed Xalalá hydroelectric dam on the Chixoy River, along the border of the departments Quiché and Alta Verapaz, has been contentious since the plan was first proposed in 2004. It would affect more than 50 communities, and approximately 18,000 residents said no to the project in a community consultation in 2007. In the last few months, state institutions, especially those involved in energy, have been active in Xalalá. For example, some testified that INDE representatives attempted to bribe leaders for the support of the community. The presence of the army has also increased. Continue reading

Guatemala News Update: November 16 -22

Community leaders will be released after unjust imprisonment

Five community members from Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, who were illegally imprisoned for seven months, have succeeded in proving their innocence. On Thursday, a judge in Jalapa dismissed the charges against them due to lack of certainty and weakness of proof brought forth by the Public Prosecutor’s office. Communitaria Press calls this development “a victory for peaceful resistance,” as those imprisoned were criminalized for their resistance to the Escobal mine. Canadian-based Tahoe resources and it’s Guatemalan subsidiary San Rafael Mining have carried out recurring acts of violence against peaceful protesters, and the government has used its own institutions to support the company.

Meanwhile, Tahoe Resources recently announced that the company is ready to ramp up production at the Escobal silver mine. Though the company reported a net loss last quarter (the first quarter of production), its stocks rose following this announcement.

Public prosecutors want trial for military extrajudicial killings

The Public Prosecutor’s Office wants the Constitutional Court to revoke a prior decision to modify charges against eight military members, led by Col. Juan Chiroy Sal, involved in the killings of six people during the October 4, 2012 confrontation in Totonicapán. The eight men were originally charged with extrajudicial killing and attempted extrajudicial killing, but High Risk Court A Judge Patricia Flores reduced the charges. The lawyer for Chiroy Sal criticized both the prosecution for maintaining their original claim, as well as the protesters for committing actions of violence during the confrontation.

Continue reading

Ante el estado de sitio en Santa Rosa y Jalapa, Guatemala

La Comisión de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala expresa su profunda preocupación frente a la imposición de un estado de sitio en dos municipios del departamento de Jalapa y dos de Santa Rosa, que viene como parte de un patrón de ataques contra las comunidades, sus líderes y otros defensores de derechos humanos.

La Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA), ha registrado 328 agresiones en contra de defensores en lo que va del año 2013. Los que se oponen a proyectos mineros han sido víctimas de una gran parte de estas agresiones. Trágicamente, estos hechos rara vez resultan en investigaciones adecuadas y en la sanción de los responsables, contribuyendo a un ambiente peligroso de impunidad.

Ahora, a un año de haber decretado estado de sitio en el municipio de Barillas Huehuetenango, el día 2 de mayo el gobierno de Otto Pérez Molina, decretó estado de sitio en los municipios de Jalapa y Mataquescuintla del Departamento de Jalapa y los municipios de Casillas y San Rafael las Flores del Departamento de Santa Rosa.

El informe de verificación realizado por Waqib Kej, ha registrado abusos de autoridad, intimidación hacia la población, el uso desmesurado de la fuerza, irrespeto a la población, especialmente hacia las mujeres al momento de realizar los allanamientos a sus casas, robos de bienes y dinero durante los registros de los hogares, incluso se habla de la muerte de un menor de edad, como consecuencia de que su madre, al iniciar labor de parto no pudo salir para ser atendida.

Nos preocupa considerablemente la reiteración del uso de la figura del estado de sitio, sobre todo cuando se aprovecha para perseguir y detener a líderes comunitarios, defensores de derechos humanos de sus comunidades. Las comunidades han sido enfáticas a través de consultas comunitarias de buena fe, que el gobierno no ha querido reconocer y que peor aún obvia y concede licencias a proyectos mineros.

Otro elemento que preocupa son las declaraciones dadas por el Ministro de Gobernación Mauricio López Bonilla y el Presidente de la República a medios de comunicación que pretenden confundir y señalan que el estado de sitio se estableció porque en los lugares se realizan actividades de narcotráfico, sicariato, crimen organizado. Señalan que nada tiene que ver el desacuerdo de la población a la minería, pero ya se han realizado varios allanamientos a las viviendas de lideres. A la vez, han hecho señalamientos directos hacia el Parlamento Xinca y hay órdenes de captura para algunos de sus miembros.

López Bonilla afirmó que las personas capturadas hasta el momento no forman parte de estructuras del narcotráfico, pero sí de bandas dedicadas al sicariato, extorsión y otros delitos. Hay más de 40 órdenes de captura vigentes y hasta el momento se han realizado 18 detenciones.

En Santa Rosa y Jalapa, la gran mayoría de los pobladores afectados por el estado de sitio ejercían su derecho de defender su medio ambiente, en el caso de San Rafael las Flores la población realizaba una manifestación pacífica cerca de las instalaciones del proyecto El Escobal, de la Minera San Rafael, S.A., subsidiaria de la empresa canadiense Tahoe Resources.

Manifestamos nuestra preocupación sobre el uso de la militarización y la suspensión de los derechos constitucionales y exhortamos a las autoridades guatemaltecas para que actúen con respeto a los derechos humanos de la población.