FIAN: Action Case Guatemala – Goldmining destroys access to water and violates indigenous rights

Action Case Guatemala – Goldmining destroys access to water and violates indigenous rights

 Guatemala: Open pit mining project threatens subsistence basis of indigenous communities

In Guatemala the Marlin Gold Mine has a profoundly negative effect on local indigenous communities’ access to food and water. The mining activities use massive amounts of water and contaminate remaining reserves. Toxic levels of heavy metal have been identified in samples of blood and urine of members of the local population.

Community consultations in 2005 revealed that more than 90 per cent of the population in Sipacapa rejected the Marlin Mining project. In 2010 the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous People, James Anaya, and an expert committee from the International Labour Organization declared that the government had granted the license to mine without the free and informed consent of the affected communities.

In May 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures in favour of the members of 18 indigenous communities in the Guatemalan Western Highlands. These measures include the temporary suspension of activities of the Marlin Mine, operated by Canadian corporation Goldcorp.

Human rights defenders, including members of the community, have been suppressed violently for speaking out against the mine. A leader of the movement opposing the mine was shot at her home on July 7, 2010. This brutal criminal act and others have largely been ignored by authorities.

Since 2004, FIAN repeatedly visited the Marlin Mine area, engaged with local authorities and launched appeals supporting the people’s struggle against the mine. Together with international human rights groups and networks, FIAN conducted joint fact finding missions, contributing to the international visibility of the case.

In concert with other European organizations FIAN has openly questioned the policies of Scandinavian public pension funds as shareholders of Goldcorp. Both Norway and Sweden are bound by international human rights treaty obligations and must ensure that State Pension Funds are not investing in organizations involved in human rights violations.

In a report presented in August 2011 that summarizes the results of a joint mission to Guatemala, FIAN and partners ask the state of Guatemala to implement the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission and to protect human rights defenders from harassments and criminalization, as well as to guarantee the people´s human right to water.

Read an article from the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2011, p.64-66

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