MAC: Mines and Communities

Urgent Action: Shooting of Community Leader Opposing Goldcorp Mine

Published by MAC on 2010-07-17
Source: Statements (2010-07-13)

Urgent Action: Shooting of Community Leader Opposing Goldcorp Inc.'s Marlin Mine in Guatemala; Threats Against Local Leaders Escalate

MiningWatch Canada

13 July 2010

On Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 7:30 PM in the small community San José Nueva Esperanza in the village of Maquivil, municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Ms. Diodora Antonia Hernández Cinto was shot. Two unknown young men showed up at her house asking for a place to stay. When they were refused housing, they asked to buy a cup of coffee. When Ms. Hernández went to give them their coffee, they shot her in the head near her right eye, causing significant blood loss. The two men ran off in the direction of San José Ixcaniche. Ms. Hernández was taken to the hospital in San Marcos and then to the Roosevelt hospital in Guatemala City, where she underwent surgery on June 11th. She is in stable condition, but the consequences of the gun shot are still unknown.

On the same night, at 11:30 PM a group of people arrived in the community to support Ms. Hernández. When they returned to their community Ágel, they heard gunshots approximately 50 metres from their homes.

So far neither the National Civil Police nor the Attorney General's office have begun the necessary steps to investigate the incident. An official complaint was filed in the Attorney General's office of San Marcos (#MP166-2010-2818) on July 8, 2010.

Ms. Diodora Antonia Hernández Cinto is part of a resistance movement against the human rights violations being committed by the company Montana Exploradora, the subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc that is operating the Marlin mine. She has been active in her community Sacmuj, where the company has extensive exploration interests and the inhabitants fear impacts on their natural water springs and the violation of their right to consent. She has been threatened a number of times for her participation in this movement.

Since 2005 indigenous communities affected by the Marlin mine have denounced grave human rights violations, impacts on their health, contamination of their water sources, and and a decrease in their civil liberties. Among the most significant complaints is the violation of their right to free, prior, and informed consent, which is protected under international law in regards to projects developed on indigenous lands.

On May 20, 2010 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS), issued precautionary measures to the Guatemalan government calling for the suspension of mining operations at Marlin to prevent possible impacts on the health of the communities as well as their access to water. The government was asked to take immediate measures to protect the lives of community members in the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa.

On June 23, 2010 the Colom administration announced its commitment to comply with the precautionary measures and suspend mining operations at Marlin until the IACHR can rule on the merits of the petition filed by the communities.

The Guatemalan government must act immediately to guarantee the security of community leaders and their families. Members of the Front in Defence of San Miguel (FREDEMI) and other human rights defenders have reported an increase in threats against their lives since the State's decision to suspend the Marlin mine's activities. They fear acts of retaliation from mine workers and from the company.

Please send emails and faxes to express concern and condemnation for this attack, call for an immediate investigation, and urge the Guatemalan government to respond to the following community demands.

1. That the State take measures to protect the lives of human rights defenders.
2. That the representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office (PDH) and the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH) in San Marcos carry out their respective functions based in the rights of citizens and in line with the laws of the country regarding cases that affect human rights defenders.
3. That the State, through the Attorney General's office carry out an immediate investigation into this incident.
4. That the State comply in full with the precautionary measures issued by the IACHR in favor of communities affected by the Marlin mine who are defending their human rights.
5. That the State guarantee respect for human rights, the national constitution, and international agreements related to the rights of indigenous peoples.

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Sample Letter:

Esteemed Mr. President Álvaro Colom,

I write to express my concern regarding the current situation in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos. On July 7, Ms. Diodora Antionia Hernández Cinto was shot by two men inside her home at 7:00 PM. She was known for her participation in the defence of human rights against the mining operations of Montana Exploradora/ Goldcorp Inc. This is the first armed attack against an anti-mining activist in this municipality.

I understand that on June 24 of this year the Guatemalan government accepted the precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and committed to suspending operations at the Marlin mine. We applaud this decision as a demonstration of respect for human rights and for Guatemala's international obligations. However, it is urgent and necessary that the government carry out these measures as soon as possible and take immediate steps to secure the lives of community members at risk of possible retaliation.

We urge you to carry out an immediate investigation into the attack against Ms. Diodora Hernández, and to take immediate action to guarantee the security of human rights defenders in San Miguel Ixtahuacán.

Sincerely,

[your name]

PLEASE SEND TO:
Lic. Álvaro Colom
Presidente de la República [President of the Republic]
Casa Presidencial
6ª Avenida 4-18, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Telefax: (502) 2221.4423 / (502) 2238.3579

WITH COPY TO:
Doctor Sergio Fernando Morales Alvarado
Procurador de Derechos Humanos [Human Rights Ombudsman]
12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Telefax: (502) 2424.1717
gmasariegos@pdh.org.gt/opdhg@intelnet.net.gt

Lic. María Encarnación Mejía de Contreras (interina)
Fiscal General de la República y Jefe del Ministerio Público [Interim Attorny General]
8ª Avenida 10-67, Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Telefax: (502) 2411.9124 / (502) 2411.9326
fiscalgeneral@mp.lex.gob.gt

Fiscalía Distrital de San Marcos [Attorny General's Office- San Marcos]
7a Avenida A 8-06, zona 1
San Marcos
Telfono: (502) 7760.4355, (502) 7760.1051
fdsanmarcos@mp.gob.gt

Lic. Rudy Castillo Ramirez
Auxiliatura de la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos [Human Rights Office - San Marcos]
5ta Calle 7-34, Zona 2
San Marcos, Guatemala
Telefax (502) 7760-8087

Ruth del Valle
Presidenta de la Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en materia de Derechos Humanos - COPREDEH [Presidential Commission for Human Rights]
2 Av. 10-50 Zona 9, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala, C.A. 01009
Fax (502): 2334-0119
copredeh@copredeh.gob.gt


Nobel Laureates Call For Guatemala To Protect Indigenous Rights

Nobel Laureate Institute Release

8 July 2010

Six Nobel Peace Laureates are calling upon the President of Guatemala to 'uphold the right of indigenous communities to grant or withhold their free, prior and informed consent to mining projects'. In a letter sent Thursday, the Laureates drew attention to the disproportionate impact of mining activities on indigenous women, and appealed to the government to ensure women and other activists have the freedom to speak freely and express their disagreement with extractive industry without fear for their lives or safety.

Just days before, Teodora Antonia Hernández Cinto, an indigenous woman involved in resistance against Canadian owned Marlin gold mine, was shot in her home. She is currently in critical condition.

The attack on Ms. Hernandez is not an isolated incident. In recent weeks other villagers involved in opposition to the mine have been harassed or had their lives threatened. The assaults come on the heels of the Guatemalan government's decision to suspend extractive activities at the mine to allow for an investigation into human rights violations and environmental contamination. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) first decreed the mine closure after a scientific study released by Physicians for Human Rights found high levels of potentially toxic metals in the blood and urine of residents living nearby.

The controversial mine was established in 2005 without consultation with the local indigenous population has been steadily opposed by indigenous rights groups, environmental organizations and the local Catholic church ever since.

Nobel Women's Initiative
430-1 Nicholas St.
Ottawa, Ontario
K1N 7B7
Canada
Tel: +1 613 569 8400
Fax: +1 613 241 7550

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July 8, 2010

Constitutional President of the Repúblic of Guatemala
Ingeniero Álvaro Colom Caballeros
Casa Presidencial
6 a. Avenida, 4-18 Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: 011-502-2-383-8390

Dear Mr. President:

We are women Nobel Peace Laureates united for peace with justice and equality and in support of women advocating for equality and rights. We are writing to congratulate you on your recent decision to comply with the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and meet international treaty obligations by
suspending operations at the Marlin Mine project. In order to fully resolve this matter and promote justice in related situations, we urge your government to adopt and implement policies that fully establish the right of indigenous communities to grant or withhold their free, prior and informed consent to mining projects, as is established under international law.

Mining ventures often have significant impacts on the basic rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples. Around the world, oil and mining operations have a disproportionately negative impact on women, who suffer greater exposure to contaminated land and water, and experience the consequences of social problems such as community displacement, domestic violence and alcoholism that these industries too often engender. For instance, a recent health study by Physicians for Human Rights found elevated levels of potentially toxic metals in the blood and urine of people living near the Marlin site.

As Guatemala builds a post-conflict society that fully respects the rights of all of its citizens, it is essential to make economic development decisions with the full participation of everyone who is impacted by these decisions. Many women have been particularly active in voicing their concerns about mining operations. We ask that government authorities ensure that these women and all human rights activists have the freedom to speak freely and express their disagreement without fear for their lives or safety.

We urge you to continue to take action to protect the rights of indigenous communities in the Marlin Mine project area and across Guatemala that may be impacted by mining operations.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your positive response.

Sincerely,

Betty Williams
Mairead Corrigan Maguire
Rigoberta Menchu Tum
Jody Williams
Shirin Ebadi
Wangari Maathai


Human Rights Advocates Denounce Goldcorp's New Plan to Improve Situation in Guatemala; Plan Lacks Real Action to Address Human Rights Abuses

1 July 2010

CIEL Press Release

Washington, D.C.-Human rights advocates denounced Goldcorp, Inc's plan to improve the situation at the Marlin mine in Guatemala because it allows for ongoing human rights violations.

Yesterday, Goldcorp released a new plan for implementing the recommendations made in the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) that the company commissioned in 2008. The study, conducted by Vancouver-based On Common Ground Consultants, found widespread human rights violations at the Marlin mine and called on Goldcorp to "prepare a detailed response and action plan with clear objectives and timelines to address the findings and recommendations of the assessment."

"Goldcorp's plan lacks real action," said Kristen Genovese, senior attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law. "The company fails to address the most serious recommendations from the HRIA and, in so doing, continues its pattern of denying responsibility for the harm it has caused."

The HRIA found deficiencies in the consultation and land acquisition processes, which constitute violations of indigenous rights. The violations were so severe that the HRIA recommended an immediate moratorium on all land acquisition, exploration, and expansion of the mine. Goldcorp responded by committing to additional review.

In response to a recommendation to investigate the firings of mine employees and support collective bargaining and freedom of association, Goldcorp said they will continue to study the recommendation itself and review different structures for an employee-based workers' association.

Goldcorp failed to address the issues of posting additional bond to cover full-closure and post-closure management costs and repairing all homes that have sustained structural damage from the mine's blasting. Advocates say that the repairs would be of nominal cost for the second-largest mining company in the world.

"Goldcorp cannot continue to hide behind the Guatemalan government nor claim there is a need for more studies," said Beth Geglia, a human rights advocate who has worked with Marlin mine affected communities since 2007. "The International Labor Organization has determined that the communities' fundamental right to prior consultation was violated, and now their own HRIA does the same. Goldcorp must halt operations."

Although Goldcorp urges "all stakeholders to participate in and contribute to" improving its business practices, it has not yet made available a Spanish translation of its implementation plan, much less a translation in Mam, the local language in the affected communities.

While Goldcorp states it will "work with the government, as appropriate, to assure that indigenous peoples are consulted with respect to our operations," the company has proceeded with the development of their other two large projects in Guatemala, the Cerro Blanco and Escobal mines (40% ownership), without prior consultation with communities.

On June 24, 2010 the Guatemalan government announced it would suspend operations at the Marlin mine in compliance with precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States.

....

CONTACT: Alanna Sobel, (202) 789-7751

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) is committed to strengthening and using international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society. CIEL is a non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy in the global public interest, including through legal counsel, policy research, analysis, education, training and capacity building.

 

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