MAC: Mines and Communities

Declaration of the Q'eqchi' Communities Regarding Mining Concessions Held by Inco

Published by MAC on 2003-10-06

In response to the call for a Day of Action on Inco, Q'eqchi' (Mayan) leaders in Guatemela are calling on the government to cancel the company's Exmibal mining concession, after an appalling history of denial of their rights environmental contamination and acts of repression.

Declaration of the Q'eqchi' Communities Regarding Mining Concessions Held by Inco

6 October 2003

This day, Wuqub' Ajmaak, according to our Mayan calendar, we, mayors and representatives of Development Councils from Q'eqchi' Mayan communities from the municipalities of El Estor, Izabal and of Panzós and Cahabón, Alta Verapaz, met in El Estor to declare before the national and international communities:

1. Our outright rejection of the mining concession, granted by the government of Guatemala to Inco / Exmibal, and other mining projects that permit the exploration and exploitation of nickel in the areas where our communities are located. These decisions were made unilaterally by the government and our communities were never informed or consulted, and have never given their approval that activities of this nature could be undertaken, as they threaten our way of life, culture and all of nature.

2. We, Q'eqchi', still conserve our philosophy and principles of respect and equilibrium with the cosmos, nature and the person. To perforate the earth, pollute the water and air, destroy mountains and exterminate wildlife is to continue the policies and strategies of genocide and ethnocide because all of nature is a complement to our lives.

3. We denounce that during its operations, Inco / Exmibal contaminated the water and air, participated in repressive acts such as kidnappings and murder and forced indigenous communities from their lands.

4. The reactivation of Inco's mining concession violates the collective rights of the indigenous peoples who live in this zone, contradicts principal elements of the Peace Accords, and breaks with obligations of the Guatemalan state such as ILO 169 and other national and international treaties and agreements.

5. We demand that the President of the Republic, Alfonso Portillo Cabrera, immediately cancel the decree that granted this concession as it threatens this nation whose peoples' rights must be respected. Should these demands not be met, we will exercise our constitutional right of peaceful resistance and protest to show our disapproval.

Given in El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala, on the sixth day of October, 2003.

Signed and sealed by representatives of 32 Q'eqchi' communities and by representatives of Asociación Estoreña Para el Desarrollo Integral AEPDI

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