Statement by Vancouver-based activists condemning the shooting of Yolanda Oquely Veliz and calling on Vancouver-based mining companies to be proactive in halting violence against land defenders:
On June 13th, 2012, after a month of receiving death threats due to her involvement in the anti-mining movement, Yolanda “Yoli” Oquely Veliz, 33, was shot three times last night by unknown men on a motorcycle as she left the resistance blockade near the entrance to Vancouver-based RADIUS GOLD’s El Tambor gold mine in San José del Golfo, Guatemala. She is currently in stable, but serious condition.
RADIUS GOLD , whose head offices are at Suite 650, 200 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, faces staunch opposition to its mine by local residents who fear the gold mine will pollute and deplete thier water and damage their lands.
In early May, Guatemalan president Gen. Otto Perez Molina send troops to San Jose del Golfo to assist Radius to bring equipment to its mine site in the face of widespread community opposition.
Radius is one of several Canadian companies involved in serious conflicts with communities in Guatemala, where opponents of the mines face threats, attacks, sexual violence and murder. Other Canadian mining companies operating in the country include Vancouver’s Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources, and Toronto’s Hudbay Resources.
For more information about Yoli and San Jose del Golfo’s struggle against Radious Gold visit http://www.mimundo.org/2012/06/14/2012-06- guatemalan-female-activist-shot-for-leading-blockade-against-a-canadian-owned-gold-mine/, or the Vancouver Mining Justice Alliance firstname.lastname@example.org (tel: 604 708 1495, ext 115).
For Radius Gold’s view on the attack on Ms. Oquely:
Suite 650, 200 Burrard St
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6C-3L6
This assasination attempt of a woman who was critical of Vancouver’s RADIUS GOLD does not come as a surprise. There were shots fired by private security guards from the mine at the homes of community members near the mine this April (see Rights Action alert below). It is worth noting that Radius Gold is part of the Gold Group, which includes Fortuna Silver at whose Oaxaca mine two defenders have been murdered in recent months. There was no significant news coverage of the mounting tensions and threats by company security at the time. Since the beginning of March 2012, based on community consultations, community members had been attempting to halt the mine (see article below.)
There are over 1590 mining and exploration companies based in Canada, which constitutes over 75 of mining and exploration companies in the world. Of that 1590, 958 (more than 2/3) of them are based in BC (Vancouver, understandably). There is a list of these companies at the bottom of this document.
There is now undeniable evidence that it is reasonable to expect further acts of threat as well as more murders. Those Latin American community members who are opposing RADIUS GOLD and FORTUNA SILVER where they live are at grave risk. RADIUS GOLD must order an absolute halt to all violence against those who criticize or oppose their mining operations, and begin to respect the lives and rights of the people upon whose lands they wish to operate. Beyond this moment of extreme danger for people in affected communities, this should mean the halting of mining operations where communities with orginal rights to the land and water have unequivocaly expressed rejection of a mine.