MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Honduran villagers battle over Canada-owned mine

Published by MAC on 2002-11-29

Honduran villagers battle over Canada-owned mine

29 November 2002

Gustavo Palencia, Reuters News Service, Planet Ark

Under a harsh sun, elderly Honduran peasant farmer Guillermo Velasquez looks with dismay across his dry lands to an open-pit gold and silver mine run by a unit of Canada's Glamis Gold.

Velasquez, 80, owns around 12 acres (5 hectares) in the municipality of El Porvenir in central Honduras and has not left his lands since he was born. For decades, he has devoted his life to farming grain, vegetables and livestock.

Nearby in San Ignacio municipality, Minerales Entre Mares, a unit of Glamis Gold, has run the San Martin gold and silver mine since 1999. Velasquez and others like him contend mining has devastated the forests and dried up water sources in their poor valley. Faced with the possibility mining could start in their areas, they are locked into conflict with their neighbors in San Ignacio, who largely support the existing project and the money it has brought.

"They are totally destroying our forest. I am ready to fight against that company. We want it to leave. We will give our lives for that if we have to," said Velasquez, pointing to a huge gash in the hillside under a cloud of dust where mining was under way.

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