PUBLIC LETTER: POSITION OF THE FRONT IN DEFENSE OF SAN MIGUEL IXTAHUACAN
POSITION OF THE FRONT IN DEFENSE OF SAN MIGUEL IXTAHUACAN
1. ILLEGALITY OF THE OPERATIONS OF THE COMPANY MONTANA
As it is known by the people and the government of Guatemala, by indigenous people of the world, by national and international organizations that focus on human rights, by the International Labour Organization (ILO), by the Committee to Eliminate Racial Discrimination and all forms of Discrimination at the United Nations, by the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples of the Human rights Council of the United Naitons, and especially by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, the operations at the mining project Marlin, and for the rest of the licenses granted by the government of Guatemala to the company Montana Exploradora S.A. subsidiary of the Vancouver-based transnational corporation Goldcorp, violated the right to free, prior and informed consent of the communities that would be affected by the extraction of heavy metals. This right is protected under Article 66 of the Guatemalan Constitution, Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organization, and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Marlin mine operates without the consent or social license of the Maya Mam people from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos, which is a violation of basic, universal principles of human rights, as recognized internationally by indigenous and human rights organizations.
2. GOVERNMENT NONCOMPLIANCE WITH PRECAUTIONARY ORDER.
In light of these HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, the indigenous peoples of Guatemala successfully brought a petition against the State of Guatemala before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. On May 20, 2010, the Commission issued precautionary measures in favor of the petitioners, which ordered the government of Guatemala to suspend operations at the Marlin mine, pending an investigation into the allegations of the petitioners. However, to date the Guatemalan government has not complied with any of these measures.
3. MONTANA EXPLORADORA’S MANIPULATION OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES.
Instead of implementing the precautionary measures, Montana Exploradora has organized a misinformation campaign designed to hinder implementation of the precautionary measures at the community, municipal, and national level.
On October 18, 2010, Montana Exploradora convened a meeting in conjunction with the Municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and the Community Development Councils (COCODES) to manipulate public opinion about the precautionary measures. At the meeting, Allan Ovalle, a representative of Montana Exploradora and the Marlin mine, argued that the petitioners had no right and no reason to bring the petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He also argued that the petitioners, as ordinary citizens, couldn’t represent the people of San Miguel, and that this should be the role of the elected mayors from the two affected cities. However, it is evident that both mayors have disregarded the harms and social conflict caused by the mine and share the company’s position. Therefore, they cannot possibly speak for, much less legally represent, the petitioners before the IACHR.
4. HARRASSMENT BY MONTANA EXPLORADORA / THE CASE OF FEBRUARY 28.
The serious acts of violence towards the members of ADISMI/FREDEMI are exclusively the responsibility of the directors and executives at the Marlin Mine. This is clearly evident from a conversation that took place March 1, 2011 between Dina Aloi, vice president of corporate responsibility for Montana Exploradora, and a citizen who asked for an explanation of the situation. According to information from that conversation and a communique on company letterhead dated March 1, 2011 in which the facts were echoed from the communities’ statement, and a paid advertisement dated March 10, 2011, it is clear that Montana Exploradora conveniently mentions some people and omits others, as it suits their interest.
Here is one example:
In the words of Dina Aloi, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. “The first roadblock was lifted due to action taken by the community of Siete Platos. Members of this community objected to the restriction on their free passage on public roads and asked the protestors, who were not members of the local community, to leave their community. The second and larger roadblock in the community of San Antonio reportedly was lifted after tense discussions between local community leaders and the protestors, but without any violence.”
Given the statements made by Montana Exploradora, we clarify the public opinion:
1. Regarding the statement in the March 1st communication from Montana Exploradora blaming FREDEMI for the assault of two employees of the Marlin Mine, we clarify that FREDEMI knows the guidelines and never provoked aggression. Rather, Montana Exploradora is responsible for human rights violations and is responsible for the social conflict that exists in San Miguel Ixtahuacán. We reject the company’s attempts to blame us for the violence.
2. The communication of Montana and Goldcorp stated that members of FREDEMI signed a statement waiving their right to defense. FREDEMI responds strongly that the signatures were obtained by coercion and under threat of violence by authorities and community members who work for Montana Exploradora– including the Mejia family, who has strong ties to the company.
3. In a mailed communiqué, Dina Aloi refers to aggression on the part of Anisto López against the driver of a vehicle. This is false because the vehicle was used with the authorization of the owner.
4. The statements Montana Exploradora naming individual demonstrators indicate a lack of consideration for the physical security of community members. It also further generates conflict in the community, which calls into question whether or not they really want de-escalation of conflict in the area.
5. CLARIFICATION OF PETITIONERS’ LEGAL REPRESENTATION BEFORE IACHR
As it has already been made clear before the IACHR, in the case of San Miguel Ixtahuacán the petitioners have defined their legal representation, based on the letter sent by the petitioners.
Any other party intervening in the matter does not have the support of the petitioners.
The municipality and the COCODES attending the meetings that have been named as representatives do not have the consent or the approval of the neighbors and the community of the San Miguel Ixtahuacán.
The insinuations by the company toward FREDEMI have been motivated by Montana’s need to present a fictitious reality to their investors. The reality is different, which is why we call on Goldcorp shareholders to divest; the Marlin project of Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, a subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc. constantly violates the rights of the population where its project operates.
6. REJECTION OF THE ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
We reject in its entirety the roundtable discussion that the government of Guatemala has established with Montana Exploradora and the municipal authorities without having complied with the precautionary measures that would guarantee the protection of the 18 communities neighboring the Marlin mine. In particular without the temporary suspension of the mine, it is inconceivable to consider such a dialogue. Without question, these measures must be implemented before entering any dialogue process.
The roundtable is a wholly inadequate forum to discuss the petition before the IACHR, because it lacks participation of all the affected petitioners. No dispute can be resolved without having all the different opinions present during the debate. It is widely known that all of the representatives at the roundtable are in favor of the mine. Thus, the roundtable does not represent a genuine dialogue.
As we have already made clear, the Mayor of San Miguel Ixtahuacán does not represent us and cannot represent us in a dialogue at any time.
Any roundtable discussion must be transparent and public. To date, there has been no public documentation about the topics discussed during the meetings of the roundtable, nor disclosure of who is participating. If indeed there is a representative of the OAS participating as an observer, s/he must comply with this role and make the process public and transparent.
7. PUBLIC DENUNCIATION
Given the above complicity of the company with the municipal authorities and the state of Guatemala, WE DENOUNCE:
- The harassment of community leaders by Montana Exploradora and the municipality of San Miguel.
- The lack of political will in Guatemala to implement the precautionary measures and thereby comply with fundamental rights of indigenous people consecrated in national and international laws, conventions and treaties.
- The clear ties between Guatemalan state and municipal authorities and the mining company.
- The harms, persecution, and repression of the human rights defenders.
- The defamation of human rights defenders in documents posted in the communities and in paid advertisements by Montana Exploradora.
- We do not recognize and we reject the illegally established roundtable discussion, which newly violates rights protected by the precautionary measures, and the rest of the rights established in the international human rights treaties and conventions. The discussions do not have the consent of the petitioners or the national and international organizations.
ASKS AND DEMANDS:
- To the Government of Álvaro Colom Caballeros: the urgency of implementing the precautionary measures. These are non-negotiable rights.
- To the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: transfer the San Miguel petition to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for failure on the part of the Guatemalan government to implement the precautionary measures, particularly to temporarily suspend mining operations. At the same time, clarify to the IACHR that up to now, the San Miguel plaintiffs have not delegated legal representation to anyone except for the current representative ratified by a statement sent to the commission.
- To the Organization of American States: we ask that it withdraw from any roundtable discussion unless it is public, transparent, and includes all petitioners.
- To the international community: we solicit your accompaniment and observation in the protection of human rights as part of the duties of the state of Guatemala– in particular, the implementation of the precautionary measures, which have not been implemented in any way by the government of Guatemala to date.
- To the ambassadors present in Guatemala: that you give due attention and assist in the implementation of the precautionary measures, especially those that concern the rights of indigenous peoples.
- To national human rights organizations and institutions: demand the government respect and guarantee human rights, especially the right to life and territory of indigenous peoples.
San Miguel Ixtahuacán, March 2, 2011.
Front in Defense of San Miguel Ixtahuacán