Amnesty International: Urgent Action: Mine Activists Beaten and Threatened

Posted: 04 March 2011 (ESPAÑOL)
Guatemala: Mine activists attacked
Photo Credit: Community members from San Miguel Ixtahuacán demonstrate on 28 February 2011 against continued operation of the Marlin Mine despite a suspension order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [Copyright: COPAE]

On 28 February, 200 members of the communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán municipality were protesting against the Guatemalan state’s failure to suspend extraction activities at the Marlin mine. Activities have continued at the Marlin Mine, owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp, despite an order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that activities be suspended until the effects of the mine on local indigenous communities are properly assessed.

The protests, organized by the Front in Defense of San Miguel Ixtahuacán (FREDEMI), lasted around 12 hours. When the protesters left, the bus they were travelling in was stopped and the protesters were forced to get off the bus. They were beaten and robbed. Some protesters, including Miguel Bamacá and Aniceto López, were taken from the group and attacked individually.  Aniceto López was reportedly taken to the office of the local mayor where he was beaten in the face and threatened with death. Others were seriously injured, such as Fredy González, who was hospitalized for an injury caused by being hit by a firearm.

Miguel Bámaca and Aniceto López were released later that evening, seriously injured. They are in fear for their safety and the safety of their families.

Take Action

Please act quickly. Send a short, polite letter of concern about what happened on 28 February 2011 to the authorities below, with a copy to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister for Latin America and Guatemala’s Ambassador in Canada. Begin your letter with a sentence describing who you are in order to give the message a personal touch that will give it greater impact.

  • Call for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats and attacks on Aniceto López and Miguel Bámaca, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.
  • Urge the authorities to take immediate steps to provide appropriate protection to members of the 18 Mayan communities who were granted protective measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and to activists working on alleged human rights violations as a result of mining operations.
  • Urge them to comply with the precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to suspend activities in the Marlin mine.

Write To

Fiscal General de la República y Jefa del Ministerio Público
Licda. Claudia Paz y paz Bailey
8ª Avenida 10-67, Zona 1
Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011 502 2411 9124
Attorney General
Ministro de Gobernación (Interior Minister)
Lic. Carlos Menocal
6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala
Fax: 011 502 2413 8658
Dear Minister

Copies To

Ambassador for the Republic of Guatemala
His Excellency Georges de la Roche Plihal
130 Albert Street, Suite 1010
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax: (613) 233-0135
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
Hon. Diane Ablonczy
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: (613) 992-2537

More Background

The request for precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on 20 May 2010 asked that the Guatemalan government suspend operation of the Marlin mine, owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp, and implement measures to prevent environmental contamination until the IACHR reaches a final decision on the petition presented by the communities to the IACHR. The IACHR also requested that the Guatemalan government take any necessary measures to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the members of the 18 Indigenous communities.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People visited Guatemala from 14-18 June 2010 in order to analyze the application of the principles of consultation with Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala, in particular with relation to extractive industries, and with a special focus on the situation of Indigenous Peoples living near to the mining operations in San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa. At the end of his visit, the Special Rapporteur stated that he had received allegations that on many occasions the Guatemalan government had granted licenses for the exploitation of natural resources in Indigenous territories without the necessary consultations with local Indigenous Peoples. He added that he had received testimonies alleging that there had been harassment and attacks against community leaders, and that the testimonies imply that the security forces and private companies could be behind such incidents.

On 23 June 2010, the Guatemalan government announced that they would comply with the IACHR request to suspend the mining company’s operations, but added the next day that this would take some time as legal and administrative processes would have to be followed. The mining company’s operations continue to date.

The defense of human rights is a legitimate activity, fundamental for the advancement of human rights for all. The authorities in Guatemala have demonstrated an unjustified delay in adopting and implementing a Program of Protection for human rights defenders at risk and a Protocol of Investigation for cases of abuses against them. It is essential that the Guatemalan authorities take seriously their responsibility to ensure that human rights defenders are effectively protected so that they can carry out their work safely and free from fear, as established in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the Organization of the United Nations in 1998.

The Front for the Defence of San Miguel is an alliance of diverse communities and organizations that resist the extractive work of the Marlin Mine. The Front aims to carry out legal and resistance actions around the mining activity in San Miguel Ixtahuacán.  The Front represents the people that presented the petition to the IACHR.



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