Indigenous participants withdraw from mining workshop

Indigenous participants withdraw from mining workshop

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John Ahni Schertow
February 20, 2008
 

Rights Action reports that, after a delegation of indigenous representatives were invited to take part in a workshop to discuss “mining exploration and exploitation in Guatemala,” they learned the workshop was being co-financed by… “Goldcorp (Montana Exploradora de Guatemala), Skye Resources (Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel), the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the Prospectors and Developers’ Association of Canada (PDAC).

This prompted the delegation to formally withdraw from the workshop and issue a statement, which you can find below.

Before reading the statement, please note that while this may have been a good opportunity for the delegation to voice their concerns, they were basically expected to do so under false pretense. If there is to be any sort of consultation or diaolgue it should be carried out in the open, not in a way that both Goldcorp and Skye could manipulate.

Secondly, the statement below makes it quite clear that there is really no place for dialogue at this point. I think that’s very reasonable considering the way both Skye and Goldcorp have conducted themselves… Especially considering the fact that there have been more than 17 community referendums to date, all of which rejected the mining activities.

In no uncertain terms, that means this mining issue should be done, and that the continued pressure by these Canadian Corporations is no less than a molestation.

Indigenous participants withdraw from workshop mining

Tuesday 12 February 2008
Author: Rights Action

Guatemala – The participants in the workshop “Economic Opportunities and Indigenous Development,” to have taken place from the 11th to the 14th of the present month, manifest the following before the national and international community:

First: As representatives of communities affected by mining activities, we were invited to participate in the aforementioned workshop by the Indigenous Development Fund of Guatemala (FODIGUA), to discuss the theme of mining exploration and exploitation in Guatemala.

Second: At the outset of the workshop, we were introduced to facilitators from FOCAL (Canadian Foundation for the Americas), who approached the topic of Indigenous development from the perspective of mining exploration and exploitation, with the supposed intention of learning about our proposals and generating dialogue between the state, mining companies and Indigenous communities.

Third: As the activity began to develop, the facilitator from FOCAL informed us that the workshop was co-financed by Goldcorp (Montana Exploradora de Guatemala), Skye Resources (Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel), the Mining Association of Canada (MAC) and the Prospectors and Developers’ Association of Canada (PDAC), by which the bias in the distinctive themes of the workshop and later in the proposed dialogue were made immediately clear.

Fourth: That public opinion be informed about the position of Indigenous communities with respect to mining in Guatemala, which has been manifested through more than 17 community referenda (consulta) which have rejected mining activity.

Therefore: As representatives of communities and indigenous organizations, and analyzing the content and the intentions of the workshop, we directly question the fact that the workshop was financed by the entities responsible of the damages to and exploitation of our natural resources.

We Resolve:

a) To withdraw our participation in the aforementioned workshop.

b) To reiterate our firm commitment to continue the struggle in defense of Mother Earth and for the respect and dignity of our peoples.

c) To urge Indigenous communities and organizations in solidarity to be vigilant of the permanent attempts by the state and transnational companies to publicly manipulate our struggles.

Guatemala City, Guatemala, February 11th 2008.

By organizations and communities from: Alta Verapaz, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala, Huehuetenango, Izabal, Retaluleu and San Marcos.

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