MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Indigenous Authorities From The Western Highlands: "mining And The Patrimony Of Indigenous Peoples"

Published by MAC on 2005-04-01
Source: Indigenous Mayors of Huehuetenango

Statement from the I Regional Conference of Indigenous Authorities from the Western Highlands: "MINING AND THE PATRIMONY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES"

March 31st and April 1 in the city of Totonicapán, Guatemala, with the participation of representatives from the departments of Huehuetenango, El Quiché, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán and Sololá.

TO:

The Central Government, The Municipal Governments, Guatemalan Society, Indigenous Peoples, And The International Community,

WE DENOUNCE

The intentional unfulfillment of President Oscar Berger's commitments to indigenous peoples, proven by actions contradictory to his promises. We also denounce the misleading attitude of Vice President Eduardo Stein, whose lies to the population of Sololá became clear when he did not attend a meeting on February 6th. This dialogue had previously been arranged with the population of Sololá in order to clarify the government's decision to use excessive force and repression instead of open dialogue. In the same vein, we denounce the farcical participation of the Vice Minister of Energy and Mines March 3rd in an audience with the Inter-American Human Rights Commission regarding the human rights violations related to metallic mining; the deception of Presidential Human Rights Commissioner Frank La Rue, who did not follow through with his commitment to attend a dialogue March 16th with indigenous authorities, campesino, indigenous, union, social and teacher organizations in El Quiché, regarding the reasons behind a protest March 15th in the same city.

The repression, persecution, threats, jailing and assassination of our indigenous brothers who demonstrated their inconformity with the actions of the current government, exercising their rights as citizens and indigenous peoples. Also, the State security forces' violent repression of the multiple and frequent expressions of discontent all over the national territory; the current Minister of the Interior's strategy of repression against the just demands of the indigenous peoples for their natural resources; the threats of detention of indigenous, campesino, union, popular and social movement leaders; the assassination of our indigenous brothers and leaders Juan López (Huehuetenango), Raúl Castro Bocel (Sololá) and Álvaro Benigno Sánchez López (San Marcos).

The racist strategy driven by the President of the Republic to manipulate indigenous peoples by offering direct dialogue with the indigenous peoples - a dialogue that is never carried out. Instead of dialogue, at the same time as these empty promises, activities to delegitimize and criminalize the just demands of indigenous peoples are implemented. We also denounce the unnecessary High Level Commission on Mining; the creation of 'Indigenous Advisors' (Asesores Indigenas) that have no legitimacy; the contracting of bilingual promoters to promote mining in indigenous communities; the lack of clarity in the suspension or cancellation of mining licenses for exploration and exploitation. As well, we denounce the transport of another cylinder or filter on March 31st to the Marlin project in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, accompanied by an excessive deployment of State security forces all along the stretch between Sololá and Totonicapán.

WE DEMAND

The fulfillment of agreements on the identity and rights of indigenous peoples, and strict respect of ILO Covenant 169.

An immediate halt to the criminalization of the right to protest and the use of the term 'terrorist' to delegitimize the just demands of indigenous peoples and campesino, indigenous, union, popular and social movement organizations.

We hold the President of the Republic responsible for the social polarization and the increased impunity of security forces in their actions against demonstrations, ending in the assassination of indigenous leaders.

Clarification of the assassinations of our brothers Castro, López and Sánchez, as well as fair reparations to their families.

The recognition and respect of indigenous authorities who are the legitimate representatives of indigenous peoples.

Respect of indigenous peoples' territory and institutions, as well as our use and administration of our natural resources.

WE AGREE

To create the Regional Council of Indigenous Peoples of the departments of Huehuetenango, El Quiché, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán and Sololá.

To realize the Second Conference in the department of San Marcos, May 31 and June 1, 2005. To continue with the firm commitment to defend our rights as indigenous peoples within the framework of democracy and the right to express ourselves and to protest.

In the city of Chuimekena, on the day Kiejib' K'awuk' (April 1st, 2005).

The Indigenous Mayors of Huehuetenango, El Quiché, San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Totonicapán and Sololá

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