Welcome to Guatemala: gold mine protester beaten and burnt alive (The Guardian)

By David Hill

marlin(The Marlin mine in western Guatemala owned by Canadian firm Goldcorp. Photograph: David Hill)


“They took him and poured gasoline all over him. Then they struck a match and lit him.”

Doña A – not her real name, for security reasons – was standing up, arms crossed, lightly leaning against a ladder, and speaking in her language, Maya Mam, while a friend, a relation by marriage, translated into Spanish. There were 20 or so Mams in the room – mostly women, some children, one elderly man – and we were in an adobe-brick house in the highlands of far western Guatemala, not far from the border with Mexico, and just around the corner from an open sky and underground gold- and silver-mine called Marlin.

The Mams had gathered there – at some personal risk – to speak about the mine and how it impacts them. “Her husband was killed by workers of the company,” someone had said suddenly, meaning Doña A, “but she doesn’t speak much Spanish”, although it was quickly suggested she could talk in Mam and a friend would translate for her.

“We heard the screams and the yellings but we didn’t know what was happening,” she continued.

Her husband’s two brothers were with him: they had to run away or would be burnt alive too.

“He didn’t want to die,” she said. “It was the rainy season. There was a little bit of water which he tried to jump into and the fire sort of went away.”

This was 2009: Doña A named the month and the date. Her husband didn’t survive. He was eventually taken to hospital, she said, but died there. Although a formal complaint was filed with the Attorney-General’s regional office, it wasn’t followed up because Doña A was “scared” of the consequences. To read the entire story, click here.

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Imperial Metals’ Political Gifts to BC Liberals Total $234,000 (The Tyee)

mt polley vancouver sun

(Photo credit: Vancouver Sun)

By David P. Ball

As authorities scramble to clean up one of Canada’s worst industrial disasters following the Mount Polley mine breach, cuts to mine and dam inspections since 2001 combined with Imperial Metals Corporation’s at least $233,710 in BC Liberal Party donations since 2003 is adding insult to injury for some.

The campaign donations are slightly less than the $300,000 infines the B.C. government has threatened the company with if it fails to comply with conditions for cleaning up the breach, which caused 10 million cubic metres of water and five million cubic metres of tailing solids to spill into the Cariboo region watershed on Monday.

“Companies that have given large donations to the BC Liberals walk away with nothing more than slaps on the wrist for various regulatory infractions,” said Dermod Travis, executive director of IntegrityBC, a nonpartisan transparency watchdog.

“There is an ongoing suspicion from the public that these donations aren’t being made by companies that just want to be good corporate citizens, but that they want to ensure their voice is heard in the regulatory process… it adds to that cynicism.”

Despite three sets of downstream water samples announced Thursday, the government has not yet released toxicity samples of sediments and solids that spilled from a tailings dam, which held hundreds of tonnes of arsenic, mercury, lead and cobalt. To read the complete story, click here.

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Court rules that Guatemala must recognize results of community consultations (NISGUA)

 Story and photos from the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala’s (NISGUA) blog:

In an historic resolution, a Guatemalan appeals Court ruled last week that the government must take into account the right to free, prior and informed consent when granting mining licenses on the lands of indigenous communities.

 The ruling came in response to a legal action presented by the Sipakapense People’s Council in March 2014, arguing that the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) failed to consider the results of a 2005 community consultation before granting the “Los Chocoyos” mining license to Entre Mares de Guatemala S.A., a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc. The 2005 referendum in Sipakapa overwhelming rejected mega-development projects on their territories, including mining, by a 99% margin.

The Sipakapense People’s Council at a press conference after the Constitutional Court ruled in their favor.
Photo: Consejo del Pueblo Maya

In their ruling, the court cited Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO 169), which grants indigenous communities the right of consultation before mega-development projects are constructed on their traditional lands. This international convention has been a vital resource for communities in Guatemala organizing in defense of their territories, especially when domestic law and the Guatemalan government has failed to provide legal pathways to reclaim rights to life and territory.

Community members commemorate the 8th anniversary of the community consultation in Sipakapa, on June 18 2013.
Photo: SaraGuate

Since Guatemala ratified ILO 169 in 1996, legal uncertainty regarding the implementation of rights outlined in the international accord has left its application in a state of ambiguity. In previous rulings, the Constitutional Court established the legality of community consultations, however ruled that due to a lack of regulation regarding their implementation, the results do not have to be respected by state institutions – a tenuous position, as laws regarding the right to community referendum are outlined at the municipal level. This most recent ruling appears to strengthen the domestic standing of ILO 169 by requiring the government to recognize the results of community referendum when considering the allocation of mining licenses, but again stops short of making the results legally binding.

None the less, the court’s latest decision represents an important victory for communities organizing in defense of life and territory, providing them with an important legal precedent that can be used in future court cases to compel the government to recognize the collective rights of indigenous peoples as well as their traditional forms of organization and representation.

The hillsides of Sipakapa, in north-western Guatemala.
Photo: James Rodríguez, mimundo.org

In accordance with the Constitutional Court’s ruling, the results of the 2005 referendum will be handed over to MEM to be taken into account in their re-evaluation of the Los Chocoyos mining license, a process which the Ministry has six months to complete. The court has additionally ordered that MEM factor Guatemala’s obligations as a signatory to ILO 169 into their consideration.

According to the Sipakapense People’s Council, the implications of these rulings can only mean that the Los Chocoyos mining license is illegal and void, and as such all mining activity on Sipakapense territory must be immediately halted. To read the statement released by the Sipakapenses People’s Council regarding the Constitutional Court’s ruling, click here (in Spanish).

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(EVENT) Mining and its consequences for the environment in Guatemala and Latin America

The Hugo Chavez People’s Defense Front Southwest Canada Chapter

 invites to its ninth monthly Discussion Group

Mining and its consequences for the environment in Guatemala and Latin America
Guest speaker: Sarita Galvez, member of the Mining Justice Alliance (MJA)
Date: Thursday, June 05th.
Place: Heartwood Café, 
317 Broadway E
Vancouver, BC V5T 1W5
Time: 7 pm
Free admission
Space is limited
Chávez Vive!


Please be aware this event is not going to be held at the Chilean Co-op as usual.

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MJA picket outside Radius Gold (May 26)

On May 26, the Mining Justice Alliance held a picket outside the offices of Radius Gold in downtown Vancouver. Radius Gold sold the controversial El Tambor mine to US-based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA), however still retains a large interest in the project, which KCA has not yet paid for in full. 

The MJA stands in solidarity with the people of La Puya, who were violently evicted from their protest encampment on Friday after two years of peaceful protest.


La Puya demo 01

La Puya demo Vancouver 02

La Puya demo Vancouver 03

La Puya demo Vancouver 04

La Puya demo Vancouver 05

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Phone call to Kappes Cassidy regarding violence and invasion of heavy machinery at La Puya, Guatemala

Women of La Puya face off against riot police. 
We need your help! Early this morning a convoy of heavy machinery showed up at La Puya and tried to enter the site of the “El Tambor” Mine in San José del Golfo. As over 100 riot police and four trucks arrived, community members rushed to mobilize support to resist the aggression. The arrival of 100 additional riot police, the majority of whom are women, suggests that another eviction attempt may be imminent. Residents around the proposed site of the El Tambor Mine, owned by a subsidiary of Reno based Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, have been blocking the entrance of mining equipment to the site for over two years.
Please call Kappes, Cassiday & Associates right now at (775) 972-7575 and ask them to stop intimidating peaceful protesters and trying to force their way into the mine site. 
Recent attempts at negotiation were made this week, but ultimately stalled when the government refused to allow the negotiations to be recorded. The Vice-Minister of the Interior insinuated that the government had agreed to accompany the mine equipment because the dialogue was effectively “broken.” Community members at La Puya reiterate that they want to complete the negotiation process with the government, but with transparency.
On previous occasions, the Interior Ministry has sent hundreds of police officers including riot police from to accompany and protect the mine company’s machinery and try to force La Puya to allow the equipment into the site. In addition, four people were arrested and a forcible eviction was attempted without an order from an appropriate judge in December of 2012. In other conflicts, the Guatemalan police have used extreme force when evicting environmental activists, leading to grave injuries and even deaths. We fear that that this could happen again despite the protesters deep commitment to non-violence.
Please call Kappes, Cassiday & Associates at (775) 972-7575 now!
  • Express your concern for the safety of the men, women and children in peaceful resistance;
  • Demand an end to intimidation and harassment by police and private security, and respect for human rights;
  • Urge respect for the ongoing dialogue and No to eviction of La Puya.
Thank you!
In Peace and Solidarity,
Kathryn Johnson
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Townspeople being attacked in La Puya versus Vancouver/US owned mine right now

La Puya resistance to USA-Canadian mine in San Jose del Golfo, Guatemala, under attack by security forces right now. Numerous injuries, but most recent reports say people still holding the line against riot police trying to force heavy equipment into the mine site. Mine is currently owned by US-based KCA resources, but Vancouver-based Radius Gold (Suite 650, 200 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, Tel: 604 801-5432), the mine site’s original “owner” still holds significant shares.
Alerte, difunda: Un gobierno dispuesto a todo para defender a una empresa minera

“Nos siguen tirando bombas lacrimógenas. Hay heridos y heridas. Los antimotines no respetan edad ni género. Niños y niñas están en medio. No hay ambulancias ni ninguna ayuda médica. Están lastimando a los ancianos.” – Prensa Comunitaria. (5 photos)

Prensa Comunitaria's photo.
Prensa Comunitaria's photo.
Prensa Comunitaria's photo.
Prensa Comunitaria's photo.
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