Press Release from Communities in Resistance – Guatemala

Press Release from Communities in Resistance – Guatemala

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John Ahni Schertow
March 11, 2007
 

Press Release and Declaration by the Communities in Resistance in San Migual Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, Guatemala In the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, on March 7, 2007

TO NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION

We, members of the indigenous communities that live around the Marlin mine, owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, a subsidiary of the Canadian multinational corporation GOLDCORP, declare as follows:

When the company arrived in our communities, they tricked us, taking advantage of our illiteracy and poverty. They promised us a variety of things: construction of health clinics in the communities, animal farms, small irrigation projects, houses, compensation for the crops destroyed by mining activities and other projects of all sorts. However, they never told us about the negative impacts and effects of mining exploitation. They told us that everything is marvelous and the operations will be carried out as you wish and with top-notch technology.

When we did not want to sell our lands, the company pressured us with threats and intimidation, forcing us to sell our lands. They arrived at our homes on numerous occasions to ask us to sell, telling us that if we did not sell to them, we would have to pay the same taxes as the company and that we would end up underground, regardless.

The company’s presence and activities, including explosions, has caused 47 houses – buildings essential to our lives – to crack and split. These damages have occurred not only due to the detonations, but also due to the presence of heavy machinery and trucks in the area, completely damaging the houses alongside the road. We have brought this issue up with the company, which has responded that it is not possible and that the cracked houses are the result of bad construction.

The wells and water sources in the communities of Agel and San Jose Ixcanichel have dried up. The water project that provides potable water to 40 families in Agel has dried up, while the potable water project in San Jose Ixcanichel is not functioning due to a defect casued by the mining company. However, the company refutes all of this, saying that everything is normal, the communities are all fine and no one has anything to complain about.

The tailings deposit that flows into the Cuilco river passes alongside the community of Saq Piq, provoking the deaths of our animals (cattle, sheep and goats) that drink from this river. When we raised this issue with the company, they said that the tailings deposit is not contaminating nor does it contain any toxic substances.

Reclaiming our rights as the legitimate owners and possessors of these lands, we denounce:

1. The aforementioned damages caused by the company in our communities.

2. The intimidation, violence, aggression and verbal abuse by the National Civil Police and company security agents during their search of the houses of our brothers. Despite the lack of any crime by our community members, these searches and detentions were carried out at dawn, before the legally permitted timeframe (6am-6pm) defined by the Constitution.

3. The attack and repressive attitude by the company against the dignity of community inhabitants, accusing 22 of our innocent brothers of crimes with no basis or justification.

4. Intimidation by unknown people who arrive near our houses in the middle of the night, pretending to be representatives of the judicial system and the national police.

5. The appropriation by the company of roads constructed by the communities, without providing due maintenance. Furthermore, the company has opened new roads, destroying our lands without the consent of the communities – the legitimate owners and possessors of the lands.

6. The repressive behaviour of one of Delia Gonzales’ bodyguards, aiming his weapon at the heads of members of a women’s group in the community of Agel, without any provocation by the women.

7. The company-established prohibition of entrance into the region where our lands lie. The company has informed us that we may not traverse through our lands without company authorization, violating our right to free movement. We were born here, we live here and we are the true owners of these lands.

The workers rights violations of our fellow community members who were fired by the company and have yet to receive the appropriate severance pay.

For all of the above, we demand:

1. Of the Guatemalan State and its dependent institutions, that our Rights as Millenial Peoples be respected. We are the legitimate owners of these lands and live here according to our indigenous culture.

2. Of the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Human Rights, an exhaustive observation of everything that is occurring in the communities near the mine.

3. Of national and international Human Rights organizations, the prompt and accurate recording of the human rights violations committed against us on a daily basis and the strict verification of the fulfilment of human rights agreements, treaties and laws, especially those concerning Indigenous Peoples’ Rights.

4. Of the Inter-American Institute, the Inter-American Human Rights Court and Amnesty International, an exhaustive investigation and timely accompaniment for our communities, living around the Marlin mine.

5. Of the United Nations system, that the UN fulfil its mandate to promote the culture of Indigenous Peoples, including their autonomous territory, self-determination and identity.

6. And finally, of Montana/Goldcorp, that the mining company withdraw from our territory and leave us in peace.

COMMUNAL FRONT OF RESISTANCE TO MINING EXPLOITATION
THE COMMUNITIES OF AGEL, EL SALITRE, SAN JOSE IXCANICHEL AND SAN JOSE NUEVA ESPERANZA, WITH THE ACCOMPANIMENT OF LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS – SAN MIGUEL IXTAHUACAN, SAN MARCOS, GUATEMALA, CENTRAL AMERICA

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