Protesters in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala are Intimidated, Beaten, and Robbed
On February 28, around 200 members from the community of San Miguel Ixtahuacán in the southwestern region of Guatemala gathered to protest against the government for not having stopped the activities of the Marlin Mine. As the protesters left, their bus was stopped, and many were intimitaded, beaten, and robbed. On May 20, 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a sentence ordering the government to close the mine until its effects on the environment and surrounding communities could be verified. Although the government stated on June 23, 2010 that it would comply with the sentence, to date the mine continues to operate. WOLA sent the following letter to Guatemalan Attorney General Claudia Paz, asking her to protect members of the community and to comply with the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR.
Licda. Claudia Paz y Paz
Fiscal General de la República y Jefa del Ministerio Público
8ª Avenida 10-67, Zona 1,
Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores,
Ciudad de Guatemala,
March 9, 2011
Dear Attorney General:
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) would like to express its deep concern for the safety of the 200 members of the community of San Miguel Ixtahuacán in the department of San Marcos who gathered on February 28 to protest against the Guatemalan government for not having stopped the extraction activities of the Marlin Mine, as ordered by precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR).
As several demonstrators left the protest, individuals who appeared to be members of the Community Development Council and mine workers stopped their bus and demanded that they get off. They then beat and robbed many of the protestors. Aniceto López was taken to the mayor’s office where he was beaten, robbed, and threatened with death for participating in the protests against mining activities. Miguel Bamacá, who was granted precautionary measures by the IACHR, was also attacked. Both men were specific targets of the attacks, but other demonstrators were also gravely injured and had to be hospitalized. We understand that police protection from the Ministry of Government has already been requested to ensure the safety of Aniceto López and Miguel Bamacá.
Ms. Attorney General, we respectfully ask that a thorough, impartial investigation of the events that occurred on February 28 be carried out, and that those responsible be brought to justice. We also express our concern about the continuation of operations at the Marlin Mine. On May 20, 2010, the IACHR ordered the Guatemalan government to suspend mining operations until their effects on the environment in the surrounding communities could be verified. Mining operations continue today despite the fact that the government announced on June 23, 2010, that it would comply with the Inter-American Commission’s orders. For this reason, and with all due respect, we urge you to take the necessary steps to comply with the IACHR precautionary measures of closing the Marlin Mine. We also ask you to guarantee the safety of the communities that protest against the mine. We are aware of your long history of defending human rights in Guatemala and we hope that you will do everything possible to achieve justice in this case.
Senior Associate for Mexico and Central America