MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Guatemala: Death Threats Against Community Leaders Opposing the Mining Operations of Glamis Gold

Published by MAC on 2005-04-05


Guatemala: Death Threats Against Community Leaders Opposing the Mining Operations of Glamis Gold, a Canadian/U.S. Mining Company

April 5, 2005

One death threat stated: "The same will happen to you Mr Carlos Humberto for interfering in these stupid social issues, tomorrow will be your day to disappear from this world. Every pig eventually gets slaughtered, also Ms. Dominga [Vasquez] and her husband Alfonso Guarquez". ("eso te pasa Señor Carlos Humberto por estar metido en babosadas de la sociedad, mañana llegará tu día de desaparecer en este mundo, a todo coche [cuche] se le llega su sábado, tambien a la Señora Dominga y su esposo Alfonso Guarquez").

Commentary of Rights Action:

We forward this urgent action from Amnesty International, as follow-up to recent documented cases of repression and death associated with the business-mining interests of the Glamis Gold mining company. There now appears to be an established pattern of repression and death associated with this mining operation, a big business "development" project that has been imposed on Guatemala with no real consultation with the affected local populations. Glamis Gold's Marlin mine has not yet begun to mine for gold - it is still in the pre-mining construction stage. Given the wide-spread opposition to this Canadian-US business, we fear that the repression and death will continue.

What to do:

It is important to continue to let Canadian and US government officials (and World Bank officials, as the WB is a major investor in this "development" project) know about the repression and death associated with this mine, and to insist that all mining operations be suspended so that -A- justice can be done for the deaths and cases of repression that have already occurred; and so that -B- a full and public dialogue can take place in Guatemala, without fear of further repression, as to the real 'pros' and 'cons' of the global mining industry; as to what kind of "development" model the Guatemala people do want for their country.

[At www.rightsaction.org, you can down-load and print Rights Action's recent report "A Backwards, Upside-Down Kind of Development" about mining issues in Guatemala and Honduras, including a close look at the Glamis Gold company's interests. To get more informed and involved in these issues in the U.S. and Canada: info@rightsaction.org / 416-654-2074]


Thanks. www.rightsaction.org.


April 5, 2005

Amnesty International Urgent Action

[AI Index: AMR 34/016/2005, Central America team, Amnesty International, International Secretariat, Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street, London WC1X 0DW, United Kingdom, equipoca@amnesty.org www.amnesty.org]

Death Threats Against Community Leaders Opposing the Mining Operations of Glamis Gold, a Canadian/U.S. Mining Company

Carlos Humberto Guarquez, prominent member of indigenous rights group the Fundacion Maya (FUNDAMAYA), Maya Foundation, local mayor Dominga Vásquez and her husband journalist Alfonso Guarquez, have received death threats in an apparent effort to intimidate them into stopping their opposition to expansion of mining in the local area. Their lives are in serious danger.

On 25 March at about 11.45pm, villagers in Tablón near the town of Sololá in western Guatemala alerted the police to a burning vehicle, which had been doused in petrol before being set alight. The vehicle belonged to FUNDAMAYA and was used by one of the organization's staff, Carlos Humberto Guarquez. Five written death threats directed at Carlos Humberto Guarquez were found around the burning vehicle. One threat stated: "The same will happen to you Mr Carlos Humberto for interfering in these stupid social issues, tomorrow will be your day to disappear from this world. Every pig eventually gets slaughtered, also Ms. Dominga [Vasquez] and her husband Alfonso Guarquez". ("eso te pasa Señor Carlos Humberto por estar metido en babosadas de la sociedad, mañana llegará tu día de desaparecer en este mundo, a todo coche [cuche] se le llega su sábado, tambien a la Señora Dominga y su esposo Alfonso Guarquez").

Carlos Humberto Guarquez, Dominga Vásquez and Alfonso Guarquez are among five indigenous people who have been accused of inciting a protest on 11 January, against the transportation of equipment belonging to mining company Montana Exploradora (a subsidiary of the Canadian-US firm Glamis Gold), which owns two gold mining projects in Guatemala. The local governor for the department of Sololá presented a complaint to the local Prosecutor's Office which then filed criminal charges against them in relation to the protest, and is continuing its investigations.

FUNDAMAYA forms part of the recently created coalition Frente Nacional contra la Mineria, National Front against Mining, which campaigns to raise awareness of the potential environmental damage caused by mining and the negative impact on indigenous communities living close to mines. Carlos Humberto Guarquez is FUNDAMAYA's representative to the coalition.

Dominga Vásquez received an anonymous threat by telephone on 5 January, after speaking out against mining in the area. The caller told her that she would "suffer the consequences for having led [this] . and be careful with what will happen to you" (que debía atenerse a las consecuencias por haber encabezado [esto].ten cuidado con lo que te puede pasar). The threats have been reported to the national police, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Human Rights Ombudsman and the Presidential Commission of the Office of Human Rights (COPREDEH). Her husband Alfonso Guarquez, who is also the brother of Carlos Humberto Guarquez, is a journalist for the national information service Cerigua and has reported on local opposition to mining.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern for the safety of Dominga Vásquez, Alfonso Guarquez and Carlos Humberto Guarquez, after they received a death threat on 25 March;
- calling on the authorities to take immediate measures, in accordance with the wishes of those concerned, to guarantee their safety;
- calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into the death threats, for the results to be made public and for those responsible to be brought to justice;
- urging the authorities to ensure that any criminal investigation against indigenous leaders involved in opposition to local mining comply with domestic and international standards regarding fair trials;
- reminding the authorities of their obligations to respect the principle of free, prior and informed consent of communities to be affected by development projects, as stated under the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention I69, ratified by Guatemala in 1996;

APPEALS TO:

Vice President of Guatemala
Eduardo Stein Barillas
Vicepresidente de la República de Guatemala
Casa Presidencial, 6ª.Avenida 4-18 zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
F: 502 2253 0801

Attorney General
Fiscal General
Juan Luis Florido
8a. Avenida 10-67, Zona 1, Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
F: 502 2251 2218

Presidential Commission for Human Rights
Comisión Presidencial de Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH)
Frank La Rue, 13 Calle 15-33 Zona 13, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
F: 502 2334 1615
E: copredeh@copredeh.gob.gt

Glamis Gold Mining company
310-5190 Neil Road
Reno, NV, USA 89502
F: 775 827 5044
E: info@glamis.com
Michael A. Steeves, Glamis Gold Ltd
MichaelS@glamis.com

Subsidiary in Guatemala
Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A.
20 Calle 24-60 Zona 10, Ofibodegas Pradera
Oficina No. 20, Guatemala City, Guatemala
F: 502 2385 6651

and to diplomatic representatives of Guatemala accredited to your country.

CANADIAN GOVERNMENT:
- James Lambert, Canadian ambassador in Guatemala, gtmla@international.gc.ca
- Ginette Martin, Advisor, Canadian embassy in Guatemala, Ginette.Martin@international.gc.ca
- Monica Izaguirre, Monica.Izaguirre@international.gc.ca

WORLD BANK:
- James Wolfensohn, President, Attention to: Minneh M. Kane [Asst. to the
President], F: 202-522-1677, E: mkane@worldbank.org
- Vice President David de Ferranti, E: Ddeferranti@worldbank.org
- Michael Swetye, Principal Investment Officer, Oil, Gas, Mining and
Chemicals Department F8K-254, WB (International Finance Corporation), E:
Jswetye@ifc.org, F: 202-974-4323
- Carmen Gadala, World Bank External Affairs Officer, E:
cgadala@worldbank.org
- Jane Armitage, Country Director, Central America, E:
Jarmitage@worldbank.org, F: (202) 676-1464
- Neeta Sirur, Country Manager for Guatemala, E: Nsirur@worldbank.org
- Irma Yolanda Avila, civil society and indigenous peoples specialist
Guatemala Country Office City, E: iavilaargueta@worldbank.org


Guatemala Mayans seek answers to killing near mine

06 Apr 2005

Reuters

Guatemala City - Guatemalan Indian leaders demanded a full investigation on Tuesday into the fatal shooting in March of a peasant farmer by a security guard from a U.S. gold mining project.

In a paid newspaper advertisement, nearly 200 Mayan mayors demanded a thorough probe and compensation for the death of Alvaro Sanchez, killed in March near U.S.-based Glamis Gold's Marlin property in the San Marcos region.

The statement also called for investigations into the killings of other Mayan highlanders in recent clashes with the police.

"Up until now the investigations have stalled and the correct procedures have not been followed," Carlos Garcia, a Mayan mayor in Totonicapan, said by telephone.

Glamis Gold acknowledged the security guard shot the farmer, but Marlin project manager Tim Miller said the killing was the result of a personal dispute and was not related to the mine. The human rights group Rights in Action and Glamis' Miller say it appeared the guard shot Sanchez with a handgun owned by his employer, U.S. security firm Golan Group, which protects the mine.

Local authorities said they have launched an investigation into Sanchez's death, but declined to give further details.

The guard has not been seen since the shooting.

The World Bank-backed Marlin gold and silver mine, due to start production later this year, has met vehement opposition in recent months as it is seen as a symbol of foreign intervention, alleged environmental threat and danger to the agrarian way of life.

In 1996, Guatemala emerged from a 36-year civil war fought mainly in the highlands as leftist insurgents tried to convince poor Indians to challenge army rule. Scars left by the war run deep, and mistrust of outsiders is so widespread that only recently have a few foreign companies considered investing in the region.

Local criticism peaked in January when a villager was shot dead in the town of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, near the mine, as police and soldiers helped escort equipment through road blockades set up by Mayan peasant highlanders.

Rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday it was worried about the safety of several Mayan leaders opposed to the mine, after a vehicle used by one of them was burned. Five letters threatening him with death were left at the car, Amnesty said.


Temor por la seguridad / amenazas de muerte

5 de abril de 2005

Guatemala - Carlos Humberto Guarquez, empleado de la Fundación Maya (FUNDAMAYA) Alfonso Guarquez, periodista, hermano del anterior, Dominga Vásquez, alcaldesa, miembro de FUNDAMAYA y esposa de Alfonso Guarquez.

Carlos Humberto Guarquez, destacado miembro del grupo de defensa de los derechos de los indígenas Fundación Maya (FUNDAMAYA), Dominga Vásquez, alcaldesa local, y el esposo de ésta, el periodista Alfonso Guarquez, han recibido amenazas de muerte en un aparente esfuerzo por intimidarlos para que abandonen sus actividades de oposición a la expansión de la minería en la zona en que residen. Sus vidas corren grave peligro.

El 25 de marzo, hacia las 11.45 de la noche, los habitantes del pueblo de Tablón, cerca de la localidad de Sololá, en el oeste de Guatemala, alertaron a la policía de que había un vehículo en llamas, que había sido rociado con gasolina antes de prenderle fuego. El vehículo pertenecía a FUNDAMAYA y era utilizado habitualmente por uno de los empleados de la organización, Carlos Humberto Guarquez. En torno al vehículo en llamas se encontraron escritas cinco amenazas de muerte contra Carlos Humberto Guarquez. Una de ellas decía: "eso te pasa Señor Carlos Humberto por estar metido en babosadas de la sociedad, mañana llegará tu día de desaparecer en este mundo, a todo coche [cuche] se le llega su sábado, también a la Señora Dominga y su esposo Alfonso Guarquez".

Carlos Humberto Guarquez, Dominga Vásquez y Alfonso Guarquez forman parte de los cinco indígenas que han sido acusados de incitar a una protesta el 11 de enero contra el transporte de material perteneciente a la empresa minera Montana Exploradora (filial de la empresa canadiense-estadounidense Glamis Gold), que posee dos proyectos de extracción de oro en Guatemala. El gobernador local del departamento de Sololá presentó una denuncia a la fiscalía local, que luego presentó cargos penales contra los indígenas en relación con la protesta, y continúa sus investigaciones.

FUNDAMAYA forma parte de la coalición recientemente creada Frente Nacional contra la Minería, que hace campaña para concienciar sobre el posible daño medioambiental causado por la extracción minera y sobre sus consecuencias negativas para las comunidades indígenas que viven cerca de las minas. Carlos Humberto Guarquez es el representante de FUNDAMAYA en la coalición.

Dominga Vásquez recibió una amenaza telefónica anónima el 5 de enero, después de hablar públicamente contra la minería en la zona. El autor de la llamada le dijo "que debía atenerse a las consecuencias por haber encabezado [esto] [...] ten cuidado con lo que te puede pasar". Las amenazas se han denunciado ante la policía nacional, la fiscalía, la Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos y la Comisión Presidencial de Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH). El esposo de Dominga Vásquez, Alfonso Guarquez, hermano de Carlos Humberto Guarquez, es periodista y trabaja para el servicio de noticias nacional Cerigua, y ha informado sobre la oposición local a la explotación minera.

ACCIONES RECOMENDADAS: Envíen llamamientos para que lleguen lo más rápidamente posible, en español o en su propio idioma:

- expresando preocupación por la seguridad de Dominga Vásquez, Alfonso Guarquez y Carlos Humberto Guarquez, tras las amenazas de muerte que recibieron el 25 de marzo;

- pidiendo a las autoridades que tomen medidas inmediatas, conforme a los deseos de los propios amenazados, para garantizar su seguridad;

- pidiendo que se lleve a cabo una investigación inmediata y exhaustiva sobre las amenazas de muerte, que se hagan públicos sus resultados y que se lleve a los responsables ante la justicia;

- instando a las autoridades a garantizar que toda investigación penal contra los dirigentes indígenas implicados en actividades de oposición a la explotación minera de la zona cumple las normas tanto nacionales como internacionales sobre juicios justos;

- recordando a las autoridades que tienen la obligación de respetar el principio según el cual las comunidades afectadas por proyectos de desarrollo deben dar su consentimiento libre, previo y con conocimiento de causa, conforme establece el Convenio 169 de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT), ratificado por Guatemala en 1996.

LLAMAMIENTOS A:

Eduardo Stein Barillas
Vicepresidente de la República de Guatemala
Casa Presidencial, 6ª Avenida 4-18, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: + 502 2253 0801
Tratamiento: Estimado Señor Vicepresidente

Fiscal General
Juan Luis Florido
8a. Avenida 10-67, Zona 1, Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: + 502 2251 2218
Tratamiento: Estimado Fiscal General

Comisión Presidencial de Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH)
Frank La Rue, 13 Calle 15-33 Zona 13
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: + 502 2334 1615
Correo-E.: copredeh@copredeh.gob.gt
Tratamiento: Señor Licenciado

COPIA A:

Empresa minera Glamos Gold
Glamis Gold Mining Company
310-5190 Neil Road
Reno, NV, EE. UU. 89502
Fax: + 1 775 827 5044
Correo-E.: info@glamis.com

Filial en Guatemala

Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A.
20 Calle 24-60 Zona 10, Ofibodegas Pradera
Oficina No. 20, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: + 502 2385 6651

y a los representantes diplomáticos de Guatemala acreditados en su país.

ENVÍEN SUS LLAMAMIENTOS INMEDIATAMENTE. Consulten con el Secretariado Internacional o con la oficina de su Sección si van a enviarlos después del 17 de mayo de 2005.

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