Call for an End to Police Intimidation and Eviction Threats in La Puya, Guatemala

April 18, 2014

 
Minister Mauricio López Bonilla
Guatemala Ministry of the Interior
Ministro de Gobernación
6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala
Guatemala
Fax:                       011 502 2413 8658
twitter:                @mlopezbonilla

Transmitted via Electronic Mail:  fdeleon@mingob.gob.gt

AND

Kappes Cassiday and Associates
Dan Kappes – dkappes@kcareno.com
Ryan Adams – radams@kcareno.com
US Phone (775) 972-7575
 

Dear Minister Lopez Bonilla
and Sirs Kappes and Adams:

 

After having just celebrated two years of peaceful resistance against further mining activity in the communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc, just north of Guatemala City, the peaceful resistance camp at La Puya is once again under threat of eviction.

As members of the Vancouver-based Mining Justice Alliance, we write to express our deep concern for the safety of the people of La Puya, to oppose their eviction, and to demand an immediate end to excessive police presence at the area.

According to recent reports:

“The National Police, at the service of US mining company Kappes Cassiday and Associates (KCA), have been carrying out acts of intimidation and threatening eviction against [the] communities in resistance… Early April 9, a local company contracted by KCA, Transmac S.A., arrived at the mine site with heavy machinery, and with a National Civil Police (PNC) escort as ordered by the Ministry of the Interior. By mid-day, Transmac was forced to remove the machinery from the area. However, two representatives of KCA’s local subsidiary, EXMINGUA, remained throughout the day. The police presence also stayed and increased. By 2 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.”

“The massive police presence, particularly the presence of female agents, gave the impression that an eviction attempt was imminent. Hundreds of people gathered at La Puya spent the afternoon under intense pressure and fear. While an arrest warrant was never emitted and the PNC made no attempt to remove the encampment, there is a clear intent to intimidate and provoke confrontation with the population in peaceful resistance.”

“The communities opposing KCA’s El Tambor gold mine have made clear that their actions are focused on stopping a project that will destroy their lives and livelihoods. They are not blocking the public road or impeding free transit. The communities maintain their willingness to dialogue with the government.” (http://nisgua.blogspot.ca/2014/04/urgent-action-from-la-puya-call-for-end.html)

As we understand, the ‘El Tambor’ mining project in question has Canadian connections. Although Vancouver-based Radius Gold sold the Tambor project to its American associates, KCA, only a portion of the sale price has been paid. Radius anticipates receiving the rest once the mine is operational, and thus remains invested in the mine’s success. Radius Gold president Ralph Rushton has explained in the Guatemalan Press that “Radius continues to feel optimistic that commercial production will be achieved at El Tambor and the company will be paid back for the investment it has made in the region since the discovery of gold in El Tambor in 2000.”[see original:http://www.lahora.com.gt/index.php/nacional/guatemala/actualidad/169986-compania-considero-conflictivo-el-proyecto-en-la-puya, “Radius sigue siendo optimista de que la producción comercial se logrará en El Tambor y la Compañía le reembolsará por la inversión que ha realizado en la región desde el descubrimiento de oro en El Tambor en 2000.”]

For two years, families at La Puya have – at great personal cost – maintained a human roadblock to the mine, preventing machinery and mining employees from entering the site. They fear the mine will endanger their well-being and contaminate their already scarce water supply.

According to US-based Guatemala Human Rights Commission, that fear was confirmed last year by US engineer and mining expert Rob Robinson, who analyzed the 900-page Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Tambor gold mine and traveled to Guatemala in mid-February, 2013, to present his findings to the Guatemalan government, the press, and affected communities. “The analysis is so bad that it can’t help us predict or prevent the negative effects of the mine,” explained Mr. Robinson. “It gives no confidence that the mining company will protect the environment or the health of the communities.”

Members of the Mining Justice Alliance are monitoring this situation with grave concern for the safety of the men, women and children at La Puya; they should not be forcibly evicted. We urge the Guatemalan government and on KCA to ensure an end to intimidation and harassment by police and private security. We call on you to respect the ongoing dialogue, and the human rights of local communities.

Sincerely,

The Mining Justice Alliance, Unceded Coast Salish Territories
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada

Copy furnished:

Peter Julian
Member of the Parliament
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Email: peter.julian@parl.gc.ca
Fax: 616.947.9500

His Excellency Georges de la Roche Plihal
Ambassador for the Republic of Guatemala
130 Albert Street, Suite 1010
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax:                       (613) 233-0135
Email :                  consular@embaguate-canada.com

Honorable Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
Fiscal General de la República
Ministerio Público
15ª Avenida 15-16, Zona 1, Barrio Gerona
01001 Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Transmitted via Electronic Mail:
fiscalgeneral@mp.gob.gt

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