Friday, December 19, 2014

The Countdown to January 5th, 2015: Genocide retrial on course, but questions remain

“The thousands and thousands of victims will never abandon this struggle. We have to see it through. There are multitudes of victims by my side demanding that I speak out for justice and so I am going to speak out. In no moment will this [struggle] be abandoned. We have already made huge strides… I thank the people from other countries that are here surrounding us. I thank them. We are not alone because there are people that are supporting us.”  - Woman survivor and member of the AJR

Nearly 19 months have passed since the initial conviction and subsequent annulment of the trial proceedings that had resulted in a guilty verdict against Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide and crimes against humanity. During this time, the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) and their legal team at the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) have worked tirelessly to strike down the numerous legal obstacles launched by Montt's defense in order to avoid the retrial, scheduled to begin January 5th, 2015. 

Yesterday, less than three weeks from the programmed start of the retrial, the Constitutional Court resolved that the legal process should not be set back to November 2011. This issue was one of the most significant outstanding obstacles to a January 5th retrial start. Last-ditch efforts by the defense, as well as behind-the-scenes political maneuvers by the economic elite have plagued this process from the beginning. Now, the defense team is welcoming the January 5th retrial, causing concern that the goal of the new trial is to cement impunity rather than truly seek justice. Likewise, the retrial is set to take place after a year of questionable judicial nominations that many postulate have solidified impunity in the courts. Finally, a decision on amnesty for Ríos Montt is still pending in national courts. 

If the legal twists and turns have you confused, rest assured that you are not alone; the confusion is intentional. The complicated and convoluted legal web created by the defense is a tactic put in place ever since the lead-up to the 2013 genocide trial. In lieu of an actual legal strategy, the defense used dilatory tactics and political grandstanding to try to stall the process, exhaust the victims and ultimately maintain impunity. Important questions for the first day of the retrial: If these obstructionist tactics do not continue, is there something else at play? Is this new trial intended to permanently deny the victims justice in national courts?

Throughout the lengthy legal processes within a Guatemalan justice system seemingly unable to find a clear path towards justice, the AJR and their supporters uphold the 2013 genocide verdict and sentence as valid. From a legal standpoint, CALDH has highlighted that the verdict and sentence were emitted by a legitimate Guatemalan tribunal through due process and carried out according to rule of law. In addition, the steps required to annul the sentence were never undertaken by the defense, and as such, the sentence has legal as well as moral standing.

The AJR and CALDH will participate in this new trial, and we will stand with them. To show your ongoing support of their work, we ask that you pause a moment during this holiday season to take a photo with your loved ones and show your commitment to stand with the AJR and the survivors of genocide in Guatemala. If you participated in our photo campaign during the genocide trial, we encourage you to renew your commitment by adding the message “SEGUIMOS CON USTEDES” / “WE ARE STILL WITH YOU” and encourage your friends and family to take the photo.

In the lead up to a new trial, we have compiled a timeline of key legal events in the ongoing search for justice. We will update this timeline as new information becomes available.

March 19, 2013 – Trial opens in Guatemala City against former General Efraín Ríos Montt and former head of military intelligence, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez. Both are charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for massacres that took place between March 1982 and October 1983 during the de facto government of Ríos Montt. The foundations for this case date back to the genocide charges originally filed in 2001 by the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) with support from the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH).

April 18, 2013 – After 20 days of testimony, High Risk Crimes Court Judge Carol Patricia Flores rules that the proceedings should be annulled and the case returned to November 23rd, 2011, before Ríos Montt was indicted. The Flores hearing was ostensibly based on a dispute regarding the acceptance of defense evidence, an issue that was eventually resolved. However, Flores added a separate issue into this proceeding, arguing that in order to restore constitutional rights to CALDH, the proceedings should be regressed to November 23, 2011 and the process returned to her jurisdiction. The ruling is based on a legal process rooted in a recusal originally requested by defense counsel and later appealed by CALDH. 

This appeal was the central issue the Constitutional Court finally resolved on December 18, 2014. A ruling in favor of the defense would have set Ríos Montt free, as he was not charged with the crimes in 2011.

April 19, 2013 –Judge Yassmín Barrios’ response to the Flores decision is that she will not obey “an illegal order” and as such, the April 18 decision will not stop the trial. However, Judge Barrios temporarily suspends the hearings to address other injunctions submitted by the defense.

April 30, 2013 – The trial resumes after nearly two weeks of suspension. 

May 10, 2013 – Efraín Ríos Montt is found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison. The court ratified all the elements of genocide described by witness and expert testimony, concluding that Ríos Montt had both command authority and "full knowledge of what was happening and did nothing to stop it."

May 20, 2013 – Guatemala's Constitutional Court overturns the genocide sentence based on legal challenges filed by the defense team, claiming technical errors in the trial process. The ruling annuls all testimony given from April 19th onward. 

October 2013 – The Constitutional Court orders a lower court to provide a legal foundation for their prior ruling against amnesty. Human rights groups fear this opens the door to amnesty for war crimes. The Court justifies this move by arguing that due process was not respected in a lower court's decision rejecting the application of wartime amnesty Decree 8-86. The decree was passed during de facto government of Oscar Humberto Mejía Víctores and mandated a blanket amnesty for all crimes committed between March 23, 1983 and January 14, 1986. The prosecution appeals by citing national and international laws that clearly invalidate the 1986 “auto-amnesty” decree. 

The question of amnesty for Ríos Montt, which was launched in 2012, remains unresolved. The issue has been pending since the CC returned the matter to the Appeals Courts. An astonishing 61 judges have recused themselves from making the decision. A ruling in favor of amnesty would have wide-reaching consequences for the genocide cases, as well as other cases seeking justice in national courts for crimes during the internal armed conflict.

This same month, Sentencing Tribunal “B” affirms that it has jurisdiction to retry the case and sets a new court date for January 5th, 2015; however, the defense continues to fight for High Risk Crimes Judge “A” (Carol Patricia Flores) to have jurisdiction over the case.

December 31, 2013 – An Appeals Court upholds Judge Flores' April 18th, 2013 ruling to annul the trial and set the process back to November 2011. One of the judges from this same appeals court will be part of the tribunal that decides on amnesty. The prosecution appeals the decision to support Flores’ ruling, sending it to the Constitutional Court for a final ruling.

March 26, 2014 – The Constitutional Court (CC) hears arguments regarding the April 18th, 2013 decision to regress the trial to November 2011

December 10, 2014 – The Constitutional Court asks for the case file regarding the April 18th decision. The request causes concern, given arguments as to whether or not to restore Judge Flores’ jurisdiction were already heard in March. 

December 18, 2014The Constitutional Court rejects Flores’ April 18th ruling to regress the case back to November 23rd, 2011. This long-awaited ruling means that one of the remaining obstacles preventing a retrial has finally been resolved, and a January 5th genocide case retrial seems likely.
 
December 23 - The Appeals Court tribunal to decide on amnesty for Ríos Montt, an appeal originally filed in 2012, finally forms after 61 judges recused themselves. The five-days granted to the tribunal to issue a ruling has come and gone and there is still no decision on amnesty.

The week before the re-trial date - Luis Rosales, lawyer for Ríos Montt, requests the recusal of Jeannette Valdés, lead judge on the Sentencing Tribunal “B”, based on a thesis she wrote on genocide more than ten years ago. Rosales also requests the recusal of Judge Edith Perez, one of the Appeals Court judges on the newly formed tribunal to decide amnesty. The decision to accept or reject a recusal request rests with the judge, although the ruling can be appealed.

President Otto Pérez Molina speaks out in favor of amnesty stating, “Remember, there is a Reconciliation Law that basically sets out amnesty... It is the courts that should rule [to grant amnesty] and we hope that is what will happen.” Molina also reacts negatively to the recently announced restrictions on US military funding to Guatemala, which are directly linked to advances in human rights and on the investigation and prosecution of current and retired military personnel stating, “We are advancing without needing the United States to tell us what we should do. We have sovereignty to make decisions.”

January 2, 2015 - The defense presents the Sentencing Tribunal a medical excuse claiming Ríos Montt is not physically able to stand trial due to a battery of health issues. This motion, along with the request to recuse Judge Jeannette Valdés will likely be heard during the opening of the re-trial on Monday, January 5th.

January 5, 2015 -  The genocide retrial begins as scheduled, although without the presence of Ríos Montt or the case file. The proceedings are dismissed for two hours shortly thereafter, to allow time for the file to be transferred from the Appeals Court to the trial gallery. At 11 am, Judge Jeannette Valdés orders Ríos Montt to appear in the courtroom, dismissing the medical excuse presented on January 2nd.

The former head of state arrives in court on a gurney and the hearing reconvenes at 1 pm.

Judge Valdés initially rejects Ríos Montt’s request for her recusal but is forced to reverse her decision when the two other judges on the tribunal vote to uphold the motion to recuse. The trial is suspended indefinitely. As of today, there is no deadline for naming the new judge and, once again, no clear path towards advancing justice for the victims and survivors.

January 13, 2015 - The hearing in which Judge Flores should officially reverse her decision on setting the case back to 2011 in accordance with the December 18th Constitutional Court ruling is suspended due to the absence of Ríos Montt. His lawyers argue that the former general is too sick to appear in court and accuse Flores of violating his right to defense. Judge Flores orders the National Institute of Forensics Science (INACIF) to examine and evaluate Ríos Montt state of health. A new hearing date has not been set. 

For up-to-date news, like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter @NISGUA_Guate  #EyesOnJan5

NISGUA has provided human rights accompaniment to the witness organization, the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, and their lawyers, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action since 2000. Review our archival coverage of the historic genocide trial here.

US groups call on new US Ambassador to Guatemala to promote justice

The following letter was originally sent on October 14, 2014

Ambassador Todd Robinson U.S. Embassy
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Dear Ambassador Robinson:

We write to congratulate you on your recent appointment as the United States ambassador to Guatemala, and we recognize your extensive experience and service in country as well as throughout the Western hemisphere. As U.S.-based human rights and policy organizations, we closely follow the human rights situation in Guatemala and the impacts of U.S. policy in the region.

We appreciate the steps the U.S. Embassy has taken in recent years to support justice and accountability in Guatemala and fervently believe that the protection of human rights must continue to be a top priority.

Unfortunately, over the last two years, the human rights situation has been deteriorating. As you are well aware, Guatemala currently suffers from increasing violence, organized criminal activity, intense conflict over land and natural resources, high rates of poverty and unemployment, and minimal social spending. When addressing these challenges, the Guatemalan government should implement policies that improve the common good; its institutions and public officials should act within the rule of law, and be held accountable when they do not. However, the Guatemalan government, through militarized policies and ineffective mechanisms for civil society dialogue, has exacerbated social conflict. Impunity rates for all crimes remains high –particularly in cases relating to human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, women, and LGBTQ individuals–and corruption within the government has not been effectively addressed.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Tahoe Resources’ former security manager to be tried in Guatemalan court

Source: Center for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS) - MiningWatch Canada - Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)

(Guatemala City/Ottawa) On Wednesday, a Guatemalan judge decided that Tahoe’s former security manager, Alberto Rotondo, should stand trial for his role in a shooting attack on peaceful protesters in April of last year.

On April 27, 2013, Tahoe Resources’ private security opened fire on peaceful protesters outside the Escobal mine, the company’s only project, in the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores in southeastern Guatemala. Rotondo, Tahoe’s then head of security and an ex-military officer from Peru, was arrested at Guatemala’s international airport and charged with allegedly having ordered the attack.
Alberto Rotondo to stand trial

Yesterday, the judge ruled that Rotondo should stand trial on charges of causing serious and minor bodily harm to four of the seven men injured in the attack, as well as for obstruction of justice. If convicted, Rotondo could face up to 28 years in prison. The evidentiary hearing is scheduled for February 3, 2015.

“This decision sets an important precedent to the extent that it will allow the Public Prosecutor and the victims to demonstrate the premeditated and aggressive way in which Rotondo orchestrated the attack, as well as the responsibility of Guatemalan authorities in its planning and execution,” explained Rafael Maldonado, Director of the Center for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS).

Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver project is the subject of broad local opposition and ongoing legal processes in Guatemala and Canada. In June 2014, the seven victims of the attack filed a civil suit in British Columbia against the company for its role in the April 2013 violence. The first major hearing in this case is scheduled for April 2015 regarding Tahoe's argument that the case should be heard in Guatemala instead of Canada.

“What we want is justice. Even though we know that this is difficult to achieve in Guatemala, we are confident that we will have an opportunity to demonstrate that Mr. Rotondo and the company are guilty,” stated Artemio Castillo, a victim of the attack and a co-plaintiff in both cases.

Foreshadowing the obstacles ahead toward achieving justice in Guatemala, the judge granted Rotondo house arrest, rejecting two separate instances in which the Public Prosecutor accused the ex Tahoe employee with being in contempt of court.

Maldonado commented on this unexpected decision saying, “Despite the favorable decision to send Rotondo to trial, the judge demonstrated partiality in this case by rejecting multiple requests from the victims and the Public Prosecutor to keep Rotondo in detention.”

Tahoe Resources Inc. is a silver exploration and development company that lists on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, with offices in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and Reno, Nevada, USA. Goldcorp, a mining company with a lengthy history of human rights abuses at its Marlin Mine in northeastern Guatemala, holds 40% of Tahoe Resources shares and three seats on its board of directors.

For more information:
* Rafael Maldonado, Centre for Environmental and Social Legal Action (CALAS), rafamaldonado(at)calas.org.gt, (502) 5307-4250
* Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439
* Ellen Moore, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), ellen(at)nisgua.org, (502) 3027-7134

Photo credit to: Vea Canal/Panorama News
For more background, please visit tahoeontrial.net 

NISGUA has accompanied communities in opposition to the Tahoe Resources Escobal mine since 2011. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Un vistazo al futuro? Mapas comunitarios muestran el potencial de Tahoe Resources para ampliar operaciones mineras


Click here for English. 

Los mapas que se encuentran abajo son parte de un proceso colectivo de las comunidades afectadas por la minería para ampliar el conocimiento sobre las licencias de exploración y explotación en los departamentos de Santa Rosa, Jalapa y Jutiapa. La iniciativa fue impulsado por comunidades y organizaciones locales en la región y fue apoyado por La Red en Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Guatemala, (NISGUA por sus siglas en inglés), Rompiendo el Silencio y Alerta Minera Canadá.

El esfuerzo busca llenar el vacío creado por el gobierno de Guatemala y las empresas mineras transnacionales cuando no se cumplen con su responsabilidad de informar las comunidades sobre proyectos que impactarían su agua, tierra y medios de vida.

La empresa Tahoe Resources de los EEUU y Canadá, tiene una licencia de explotación para la mina El Escobal en San Rafael las Flores, y más que una docena de licencias de exploración en Santa Rosa, Jalapa y Jutiapa. Los mapas muestran que varias de las licencias afectan de forma directa o indirecta el territorio indigena Xinka y areas protegidas. La amplia oposición a la mina El Escobal en San Rafael las Flores fue temporalmente obstaculizado en mayo 2013 cuando el gobierno declaró un estado de sitio en la región. La mina empezó poco después con la producción comercial, en enero 2014.

Hoy en día, Tahoe sigue con planes para expandir las operaciones dentro de la municipalidad de San Rafael las Flores con la licencia de exploración “Juan Bosco” y en la municipalidad vecina de Mataquescuintla con la licencia de exploración “Andres”. Tahoe busca la expansión a pesar de una oposición local firme, casos legales pendientes en contra de la empresa y sus empleados en Canadá y Guatemala y 14 consultas comunitarias que ya han rechazado minería en la región.
Mapa del suroriente
Mapa de Jutiapa
Mapa de Jalapa
Mapa de Santa Rosa



Para mapas de alta resolución, visita Resistencia de los Pueblos.


NISGUA ha acompañado a las comunidades en resistincia a las operaciones mineras de Tahoe Resources desde 2011.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Human rights defenders from Barillas convicted despite irregularities in proceedings

An excerpt from a press release issued by the Guatemalan Unit for the 
Protection of Human Rights Defenders (UDEFEGUA):

"On Thursday, November 13, the trial court judge in Villa Nueva sent Oscar Morales, a leader in the resistance movement in San Rafael las Flores, to trial for allegedly threatening the manager of the mining company, Minera San Rafael, S.A., subsidiary of Canadian company Tahoe Resources. During the evidentiary hearing, the judge revealed his partiality when he indicted the human rights defender without a proper investigation. The judge is now sending the case to trial without a clear investigation and despite the fact that the Public Prosecutor's office has stated that they do not have enough evidence to accuse the defendant. In sending the case to trial, it has become clear that the judge is prioritizing private interests that are represented by lawyers of the third-party plaintiff. The trial against Oscar Morales opens on December 29.

On November 14, Saúl Aurelio Méndez and Rogelio Velásquez, water rights defenders from Barillas, Huehuetenango, were convicted by a Sentencing Tribunal in Huehuetenango for conspiracy to commit murder. The two human rights defenders were illegally detained on May 2, 2012 during a state of siege imposed by the government of Guatemala. After a lengthy process, they were released and declared innocent. However, while en-route with their lawyer for the final hearing on this case, they were arrested by the police outside the Guatemala City court house for the murder and femicide of two people who were lynched in Barillas in 2010.

Both the legal process itself and the verdict against the human rights defenders were plagued with irregularities. The verdict was reached without proving the individual responsibility of the accused, violating one of the core guarantees of the judicial system that states that individuals cannot be brought to trial for the actions of others. Both cases demonstrate how private interests trump justice, leading to the political persecution of social leaders and human rights defenders."

Link to original press release in Spanish can be found here.


Other statements from Guatemala:

"They accuse me of something I did not commit. My intention has always been to defend the rights of nature." (Saúl Aurelio Méndez Muñoz)

"I am someone of few material resources. I have fought for the rights of Mother Nature and for defending natural resources, I am now in prison." (Antonio Rogelio Velásquez)

"Together with their communities, [Saúl and Rogelio] expressed their opposition to the construction of the hydroelectric Hidro Santa Cruz. This struggle has meant repression and criminalization for them, their families and their communities by the Guatemalan state who, far from working for the wellbeing of the citizens of the country, protect the interests of transnational companies such as Ecoener Hidralia and its extractive projects in northern Huehuetenango. All of this threatens the lives of communities and the natural resources of the Guatemalan people." (Statement from the Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango)

"It is clear that the case of Rogelio and Saúl corresponds to a strategy of terror that seeks to weaken community resistance and paralyze social movements in defense of territory. This [goal] wasn't achieved because those of us who defend life and territory remain united.” (Statement from the Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango)

Link to original statements in Spanish can be found here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"We are a peaceful people" - Mataquescuintla celebrates 2nd anniversary of municipal referendum against mining

"Second Anniversary, Municipal Consultation as requested by Residents."
Photo: CPR Urbana

“Authorities will come and go, but it’s the responsibility of the people to uphold this decision,” says Moisés Divas to a large crowd gathered in the central park in the municipality of Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, located less than six miles from Tahoe Resources' Escobal silver mine. Two years ago, 98% of the population voted “NO” to the presence of metallic mining on their territory. Last week, hundreds gathered to celebrate the second anniversary of the consultation and to make sure the decision sticks.

"The referendum was a moment when the people could make their voices heard," says Enrique López, member of the city council. "The type of development that is being imposed in this territory is not long-term development for our people." A community-based mapping project undertaken recently in the departments of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa demonstrates Tahoe's grip in the region – highlighting a territory almost completely covered by mining licenses. In addition to the already-operating Escobal mine, Mataquescuintla is impacted by six other metallic exploration licenses.

Residents of Mataquescuintla locate their home on a community map to learn
which mining license might impact their lives and livelihoods.

On November 11, 2012, more than 60% of registered voters in Mataquescuintla voted in a community referendum and 98% of participants – more than 10,000 people - voted to ban the presence of mining on their territories. Together, they joined other municipalities in the area in voicing their loud opposition to the presence of mining companies such as Tahoe Resources, who began commercial production of its silver mine in the area in January 2014.

A month before starting production, Guatemala's highest court ruled in support of Mataquescuintla's municipal referendum, striking down the lawsuit filed to challenge its constitutionality. The groundbreaking decision recognized the responsibility that municipal authorities have to convene such votes and to make decisions according to their results, affirming their value as “adequate means by which peoples may exercise their right to give their opinion and be consulted on topics of interest.”



The decision is particularly important given the government and company's unwillingness to recognize consultations as a legitimate form of decision making that reflects community support or opposition to large-scale projects on their territory. Despite this seemingly dismissive stance, various consultations in Tahoe's area of influence were challenged in Guatemalan courts. Additionally, in the municipality of San Rafael las Flores where the Escobal project is located, efforts to organize a municipal consultation were thwarted by a massive campaign to criminalize leaders demanding a vote. During the anniversary celebration, Moisés Divas reflected on this contradiction stating, “If they don't care about the consultations, if they don't think they are powerful, why do they put so much effort into blocking them?”

While Tahoe Resources publicly promotes that it holds widespread community support for its operations, municipalities surrounding the mine continue in opposition. For example, the municipality of Mataquescuintla has refused to allow Tahoe access to the electrical power station located inside their municipal jurisdiction. Instead operations at Escobal continue to be powered by temporary generators.

Mataquescuintla is not the only neighboring municipality that soundly rejects the company's presence. Four additional nearby municipalities have voted against the mine in municipal referenda, while more than half of the communities in the municipality of San Rafael las Flores - right where the Escobal mine is located - have also declared themselves in opposition.

Maria Antonia Solares from San Juan Bosco stands in front of the
 map highlighting the Tahoe license that covers her community.

Maria Antonia Solares from the nearby community of San Juan Bosco in the municipality of San Rafael las Flores was present at the celebration in Mataquescuintla. Residents of her community are also facing impacts from the Escobal mine and the real possibility of Tahoe expansion into their backyard with the already granted Juan Bosco exploration license.

"It's important to be here, to learn from one another," says Solares. "Even though this is not my home, I am motivated by seeing other people defend their territory in the same way we are in San Juan Bosco." 



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A glimpse into the future? Community maps show Tahoe's potential to expand

Haga clic aquí para leer en españo.

The maps below were created as part of a collective, community-based process to build awareness around the existence of mining exploration and exploitation licenses in the department of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa. The initiative was led by local Guatemalan communities and organizations working to halt Tahoe Resources' expansion in the region and was supported by NISGUA, Breaking the Silence and MiningWatch Canada.

This effort seeks to fill the void created by the Guatemalan government and transnational mining companies when they fail to uphold their responsibility to inform communities about projects that impact their water, land and livelihoods.

US/Canadian-owned Tahoe Resources holds one exploitation license for the El Escobal mine in San Rafael las Flores and more than a dozen exploration licenses in Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa. The maps show that many of the licenses directly and indirectly impact Xinka Indigenous lands and protected areas. Widespread opposition to the company's Escobal mine located in San Rafael las Flores was temporarily stymied in May 2013 when the government declared a state of siege. Shortly thereafter, in January 2014, the mine began commercial production at the Escobal mine. 

Now, Tahoe is moving forward with plans to expand operations both within the municipality of San Rafael las Flores (Juan Bosco exploration license) and in neighboring Mataquescuintla (Andres exploration license) despite ongoing opposition, pending legal cases against the company and its employees in Canada and Guatemala and 14 community referendum rejecting mining in the region. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Reflections on the "Rivers for Life: Cultural Resistance to the Xalalá Dam" fall speaking tour

Tour speaker, Víctor Caal Tzuy, shows NISGUA's Rivers for Life solidarity banner to ACODET members from Las Margaritas Copón.
The goals for the 2014 NISGUA speaking tour were much like those which have guided us during our 33 years as a human rights, solidarity organization: amplify Guatemalan voices and experiences, connect grassroots struggles across borders, inspire, educate and strengthen our partners in the US and Guatemala. This year's tour exceeded our expectations, and we have Víctor Caal Tzuy of the Association of Communities for Development, Defense of Territory and Natural Resources (ACODET) and the NISGUA grassroots base on both coasts to thank.

Víctor's message of cultural resistance, community organization and unity reached more than 1,000 people during more than 20 events and interviews. Spanish language radio spots helped our tour reach immigrant communities in Seattle, Portland and the Bay Area. The tour petition gathered nearly 700 signatures demanding respect for indigenous communities’ right to consultation and the cancellation of the Xalalá pre-construction studies.
Víctor Caal Tzuy speaking at the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center

Presentation to NISGUA supporters at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA
Preparing for a radio interview during Indigenous Peoples Day Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island

Tour events in Seattle, San Francisco and San Jose, CA, opened space for horizontal exchanges between indigenous leaders and local activists working against displacement and in defense of territories. Our final days were spent in Washington D.C., where Víctor had the opportunity to provide decision-makers in the US government, at the Brazilian Embassy and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with first-hand information about the damages of the proposed dam project.

Especially moving were the opportunities for horizontal exchange between Víctor and similarly affected peoples –including indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and Bay Area activists fighting for self-determination in Palestine, the Phillipines and Richmond, CA. During one such exchange in Seattle, WA, Víctor, a Maya-Q'eqchi' leader and Ken Workman of the Duwamish Tribal Council, found common ground as indigenous people with shared legacies of river stewardship and common experiences of displacement from colonization. “Ken and I have much in common–we both live on the shores of rivers, and we will defend our rivers”, reflected Víctor. Ken, the great-great-great-great grandson of Chief Si'ahl (Seattle) drew connections between past suffering of the Duwamish people and the current situation facing Q'eqchi' communities opposing the Xalalá Dam. “The potential effects on culture and environment that Victor describes are exactly what occurred here in Seattle 100 years ago..."

Indigenous leaders, Víctor Caal Tzuy and Ken Workman

Sharing culture and struggle with New Fire in San Jose, CA

During meetings in Washington, DC, Víctor expressed the concerns shared by the 51 indigenous communities that compose ACODET about the lack of respect for consultation and the intensification of government pressure to accept the project in return for vital social programs. He shared specific instances of attempts to militarize peacefully resisting communities in the name of fighting supposed drug activity in the region.

In a meeting with the IDB, we discussed a 2008 grant that provided technical support to establish the Xalalá Dam as a “pilot project” for future hydroelectric projects, and we encouraged the Bank to refrain from future funding of the dam given ongoing human rights abuses. We also raised concerns about ongoing IDB loans to the Guatemalan government for rural electrification as these funds are being used to condition local electricity projects in Ixcán communities based on their acceptance of the Xalalá Dam.

At each of the tour stops, Víctor explained the significance and importance of international solidarity in their struggle. He encouraged people to come and visit his community, which is located at the confluence of the Chixoy and Copón rivers, precisely where the Xalalá Dam would be built. “I invite you to come and visit our river. You will be welcomed if you come with NISGUA, but not if you come with the companies. One of the reasons our resistance has been successful is international accompaniment. We need your support.”

Horizontal exchange with Bay Area activists fighting for self-determination

Media links:

Interview at KEPX Seattle, WA
"Letters Home: Dawn in the Ixcán" published on The Outsider 



Friday, October 31, 2014

The Q'eqchi' and the Duwamish

This article was originally published in Spanish, online at elsalmon.org

By Alejandro Echeverría
October 13, 2014 
_ME_7972
Indigenous leaders Víctor Caal Tzuy and Ken Workman
Ken Workman is a Seattle native who despite his tall stature, has characteristics that evoke his famous 19th century ancestor - the indigenous Chief of Seattle (Si'ahl) - who gave this city, which lies in the state of Washington on the Pacific coast of the northern United States, its name. Standing before a large audience at the Duwamish headquarters  (the indigenous group to which he belongs), he speaks about his people and his struggle while alternating between the languages of Lushootseed and English. Beside him, Víctor Caal Tzuy, a Q’eqchi' representative of Las Margaritas Copón, listens attentively while he readies himself to speak about his own struggle 4,500 kilometers to the south.

Ken speaks about the agreement his tribe made in the 19th century with the American colonists, in which they ceded their territory under imminent invasion and in exchange for money, the rights to inhabit the land, and to hunt and fish on it. They weren't given an indigenous reservation like many other tribes who had the fortune of living in more remote areas unlike the geographically strategic city of Seattle. The Duwamish are not a recognized tribe. Many of them have been displaced, integrated into other tribes and lost their customs and cultural unity. Ken talked about current attempts to revive the Duwamish culture from the oral tradition that remains. “You have come at a good moment,” he says while looking at Víctor. 

“Ma sa sa’ laach’ool?” greets Victor in Q'eqchi' with a smile and a wave, after which he speaks in Spanish about the impacts that the construction of the Xalalá hydroelectric dam would have on surrounding communities in the Quiché and Alta Verapaz. In response to these impacts, they organized the Association of Communities for Development and the Defense of Land and Natural Resources (ACODET) in order to preserve their communities and consequently  their culture. 

The dam's construction would directly affect 13,000 people living in the 50 communities that would be displaced, and indirectly affect another 18,000 people living in an additional 44 communities. If forced to reach an agreement with INDE, they would be displaced and have to integrate into other communities – a scenario that is all-too familiar. It is impossible to ignore the parallels with Ken's history from almost 150 years ago, parallels that were brought to light on the “Rivers for Life” tour organized by the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA).

In Washington, what was once the Duwamish River or Black River is now dry because it was transformed into a channel. In a surprising and sad coincidence, another river of the same name in Guatemala – the Rio Negro (“Black River”) – is in danger of suffering irreparable changes to the ecosystem and to the communities that depend on it. The communities in the area are organized, brave and made up of intelligent people who are concerned about local development -  a concept that is not necessarily aligned with what we in the capital city perceive as “progress,”. And that's good; why not? Self-determination is important. “In my river, the fishing is good and everyone is welcome except those who want to come to flood our communities,” said Victor, ending his presentation with a slide showing a picture of a child holding up a fish almost as tall as him.

While having coffee in the reception area of a local Seattle radio station where Víctor had given an interview, I learned about the local rules they have established for the proper management of hunting, fishing and the use of natural resources. These policies are much more reasonable than anything someone from Guatemala City with their smart phone in hand could find on Google. He talked a lot about the impact on the flora and fauna, and on the environment, the incomplete environmental studies, the fact that it is important to continue to generate electricity for the city – oh, the progress! - the many pros and cons, all of which come from a perspective that is so city-focused, but not at all cosmopolitan. In fact, there is little talk at all about the cultural impact.

Even though I already knew about the issues surrounding Xalalá and the history of the Duwamish separately, I never saw them side by side. It opened my eyes. There are communities in Guatemala, like those surrounding the Chixoy hydroelectric dam, that have gone through the same things as the Duwamish. We are in a unique context here, if we can only learn how to listen and decide to learn from history.

Translation by NISGUA

Friday, October 17, 2014

Guatemalan Prosecutor summons Tahoe Resources CEO to testify about criminalization of community leaders




Source: Committee in Defense of Life and Peace of San Rafael Las Flores - Guatemalan Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS) 
 
(Guatemala City): Kevin McArthur, CEO of the transnational Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources Inc, owner of the subsidiary Minera San Rafael S.A., has been summoned by the District Attorney’s office in Villa Nueva, department of Guatemala to provide his declaration with regard to Minera San Rafael’s policy of criminalization against community leaders in the department of Santa Rosa who are in peaceful resistance to the Escobal mine. This declaration was requested as part of case MP015-2013-7757 for which the District Attorney is responible and in which regard the Manager of External Relations for Minera San Rafael, Camilo Ernesto Medina Mazariegos, has falsely accused without grounds the community leader and coordinator of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace of San Rafael Las Flores, Oscar Roderico Morales Garcia. This is the third time that Minera San Rafael has made efforts to criminalize Oscar Roderico Morales Garcia by way of its workers.

The summons for Kevin McArthur as CEO of Tahoe Resources to provide his testimony to the District Attorney’s office in the Municipality of Villa Nueva was presented to the office of Minera San Rafael in Guatemala City on the afternoon of October 15th, 2014. According to the order, Mr. McArthur is obliged to be present to make his declaration on October 21st at 10am.

The Committee in Defense of Life and Peace of San Rafael Las Flores and the
Guatemalan Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS) have been taking all possible legal actions to ensure that the CEO of Tahoe Resources appears in Guatemala to provide his testimony and demonstrate the policy of criminalization against activists and community leaders that Minera San Rafael has been carrying out.

‘Justice for Nature, Justice for Communities in Resistance’

For more information:
  • Pedro Rafael Maldonado, General Director, CALAS, (502) 24744545, (502) 54178499, rafamaldonado(at)calas.org.gt 

Summary of Related Documents  
On October 10, 2014, Oscar Roderico Morales García made a request to the District Attorney’s Office in Villa Nueva, Department of Guatemala to summon Tahoe Resources CEO Kevin McArthur to testify in connection with criminal charges made against him by a Tahoe employee. The reason provided for the request was “To testify to the policy of criminalization that [the company’s subsidiary] has been carrying out against community leaders in resistance to the imposition of the Escobal mining project in the muncipality of San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa. This declaration will demonstrate that the complaint that has been made against me is part of a series of cases that Tahoe Resources Inc by way of Minera San Rafael, S.A. has undertaken in Guatemala against community leaders in the area of influence of the Escobal mine in order to effectively impose it on the community.” The request makes reference to rights enshrined in the Guatemalan Political Constitution and Procedural Criminal Code. See the summons issued by the District Attorney here.

On October 15, 2014, the District Attorney’s Office in the Municipality of Villa Nueva, Guatemala issued an urgent summons addressed to CEO Kevin McArthur at Tahoe Resources’ office in Guatemala City requesting his presence at the District Attorney’s office on October 21, 2014 at 10am or to communicate directly with the office by phone. He is asked to provide his testimony in response to Oscar Roderico Morales García's request. See original document signed by Auxilliary Attorney I Karen Jimena Ucelo Lima and received at the offices of Minera San Rafael S.A. in Gutemala at 3:40pm on October 15, 2015: MP015-2013-7757, Fiscalía Municipal de Villa Nueva, Guatemala, Agencia 3UDI.


NISGUA has accompanied communities in opposition to the Tahoe Resources Escobal mine since 2011.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ixil communities of Nebaj express opposition to US-led extraction in their territory

"Historically, we have never received the support of the state or the government for our development, which is why it seems fair that we be able to take advantage of our own natural resources in order to improve the living conditions of our people according to our own vision of development." 

Letter from communities of Nebaj to US-owned Double Crown Resources Inc.

In May 2014, US-owned natural resource exploration and development company, Double Crown Resources, Inc., bought the exclusive rights to all barite production from the Bilojom II mine site located near Salquil Grande, Vicalamá and Tzalbal, three Maya Ixil communities in the municipality of Santa Maria Nebaj. Despite having already presented their formal opposition to the imposition of large-scale projects on their territory to the Guatemalan Congress in 2010, plans to ramp up the extraction of barite, a non-metalic mineral used primarily for petroleum and natural gas drilling and extraction processes, continue.

In response, representatives from the affected communities submitted letters to Guatemalan and international authorities in which they reject the extraction of barite on their communally owned lands and demand respect for the right to consultation and self-determination.

Community representatives meet with the Guatemala Human Rights Ombudsman. Photo NISGUA

NISGUA joined the communities in submitting our own letter to Double Crown Resources (en español aquí) expressing our concern regarding the imposition of mining projects without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous population. Likewise, we are concerned by the participation of a US-owned company in the ongoing usurpation and exploitation of Ixil lands and peoples given the history of genocide and forced displacement in the region during the internal armed conflict.

While clandestine extraction of barite from the region known as Corralcub has been occurring illegally since the early 1990s, the involvement of Double Crown Resources, through their relationship with the Mexico-based Geominas de Guatemala S.A., indicates a concerning turning point for the imposition of large-scale extractive projects in the department of Quiché. Double Crown Resources plans to export an estimated 10 thousand metric tons of what they consider to be extremely high-quality barite to their soon-to-be completed processing plant in New Orleans, LA.

Widespread community opposition is focused on concerns regarding the impact on local water sources. During a previous phase of barite extraction beginning in 2003, Geominas utilized dynamite to remove the mineral, causing massive destruction of the natural environment that local communities depend on. Communities explain the impacts stating, "As a result of the constant explosions, the springs from Vijolom II that served the community of Salquil Grande dried up, and thousands of people in the surrounding  communities were left without drinking water."

In their letter, communities also call into question the legality of the mining licenses given that the land in question is communal property of the ejido of the municipality of Santa Maria Nebaj. "This land is the property, not only of the municipality of Nebaj, but also of each and every citizen of the municipality. This is to say that the land is communally owned and managed by the indigenous farming communities and is protected under the communal system by the communities and peoples, as well as by their municipal authorities."

NISGUA has provided on-the-ground human rights accompaniment to communities, witnesses and survivors in the municipality of Nebaj since 2001 when the legal case for genocide and crimes against humanity against former general Efraín Ríos Montt was filed. In May 2014, the witnesses and survivors of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation along with their legal team, achieved what many believed was impossible – Ríos Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison.

Over the years, we have heard stories from our partners in Nebaj about how the violence of the 1980s sought to eliminate their families and communities through massacres, extra-judicial executions and forced displacement. We have also heard about the ways in which that violent past has continued into the present – how the current attempts to remove the indigenous Ixil population from their ancestral, communal lands ring as alarming echoes of the past. 

Certainly the tactics have changed – communities are not attacked with tanks and bombs, but rather by an army of multi-national development firms that threaten their communities with the very same displacement and loss of culture. The opposition to Bilojom II mine is just one of many examples throughout Guatemala in which indigenous communities, in the midst of healing and seeking justice for the deep wounds of the armed conflict, have stood up in defense of their land, livelihoods and culture.

NISGUA Fall Tour 2014


FULL ITINERARY:

SEATTLE, WA.; OCTOBER 2-6
Area Contact Phil Neff: phil.neff@gmail.com

OCTOBER 2
Seattle University, 1:30-2:30pm
901 12th Avenue
Bannan Building, Room 102
Seattle, WA 98122

Traditions Fair Trade Café; 7-8:30pm
$5-15 Sliding Donation
300 5th Avenue SW
Olympia, WA 98501

OCTOBER 3
Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center, 5:00pm
With Special Guest: Ken Workman of the Duwamish Tribal Council
$5-15 Sliding Donation
4705 W Marginal Way SW
Seattle, WA 98106

OCTOBER 4
KEXP Radio Interview, 7:15-8:00am


Black Coffee Café; 1:30 - 3:30pm
Cosponsored by Rising Tide Seattle with Sweetwater Nannauck of Idle No More Washington
501 E Pine Street
Seattle, WA

St. Leo's Church Community Event; 6:15-7:45pm
710 S 13th Street
Tacoma, WA

OCTOBER 5

Rest

OCTOBER 6
University of Puget Sound, 12:30pm
Murray Board Room
Wheelock Center

University of Washington, 5:00pm
Allen Auditorium
482 Allen Library
Seattle, WA 98195

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PORTLAND, OR.; OCTOBER 7-8

OCTOBER 7
Lunchtime Talk with Lewis and Clark Law, 12-1pm
Sponsored by the Environmental Justice Advocates at Lewis and Clark Law School
10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
Contact: Jonathan Ostar – jon@opalpdx.org

Buscando America, Radio Program on KBOO Community Radio, 1:10-2:00pm
Listen live at kboo.fm or in Portland, OR at 90.7fm

Community event with American Friends Service Committee, 3:00pm
Multnomah Meeting House
4312 SE Stark Street
Portland, OR 97215
Contact: Pedro Sosa – psosa@afsc.org

Community event with OPAL - Environmental Justice Oregon, 6:00pm
2407 SE 49th Ave. (corner of Division St.)
Portland, OR 97206
Contact: Jonathan Ostar –  jon@opalpdx.org

OCTOBER 8
Portland Community College SE Campus, 11:00am-12:00pm and 12:00-1:00pm
2305 SE 82nd Avenue
Mt. Tabor Hall
Portland, OR 97216
Contact: Kathleen Holloway; khollowa@pcc.edu

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SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA,  CA.; OCTOBER 9-13
Area Contact: Megan Whelan; megan@nisgua.org
 
OCTOBER 9
City College of San Francisco, 10:30am
1125 Valencia Street, Room 109
San Francisco, CA

San Francisco State University, 2:00pm
1630 Holloway Avenue; Library Room 121
San Francisco, CA

OCTOBER 10
Santa Clara University, 11:45am
500 El Camino Real
Recital Hall (1st floor in the Music & Dance Facility)
Campus Map: http://www.scu.edu/map/73/
Santa Clara, CA 95053

California Institute for Integral Studies, 7:00pm
1453 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

OCTOBER 12
Community event at the Mexican Heritage Plaza 10:00am

Sponsored by New Fire, The School for Arts and Culture and Teatro Visión
Lobby Meeting Room
1700 Alum Rock Avenue
San Jose, CA 95116

Indigenous Peoples Day Forum on Resistance and Resilience in the Face of Displacement; 4:30pm
Sponsored by: GABRIELA SF; Movement Generation; New Fire; APEN; AROC
Good Samaritan Family Resource Center
1294 Potrero Avenue
 San Francisco, CA 94110

OCTOBER 13
Indigenous People’s Day Sunrise Ceremony; 5:30am
Alcatraz Island

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WASHINGTON, D.C.; OCTOBER 14-15

OCTOBER 14
Brown Bag Lunch Presentation at the Center for International Environmental Law, 12:00pm
1350 Connecticut Ave NW Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20036
Contact: Amanda Kistler: akistler@ciel.org

OCTOBER 15
Howard University School of Law, 12:00pm
Pauline Murray Conference Room
2900 Van Ness Street NW
Washington, DC 20008
Contact:  profsimms@earthlink.net

UUCA/PAG event, 7:00pm
4444 Arlington Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22204
Contact: Erin Fitzgerald; erin.lynn.fitzgerald@comcast.net

Monday, September 8, 2014

Communities in Santa Rosa and Jalapa launch campaign to halt Tahoe Resources' expansion


"Water and life are worth more than silver or gold. You are intelligent, don't let them fool you." Community organized billboard campaign in Santa Rosa and Jalapa. Photo NISGUA

In February 2013, the community of San Juan Bosco, located just 8 miles from Tahoe Resources' massive Escobal silver mine, held a referendum in which 99% of people voted against mining. Local residents were not just concerned about impacts of the Escobal mine on their water and crops, but about another Tahoe exploration license, Juan Bosco, which is located, as the name suggests, right on top of the small farming community. Now, nine months after Tahoe announced a start to operations at Escobal, the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Juan Bosco license has been published for public comment, indicating an important step forward in the granting of the exploitation permit.

In an ongoing attempt to make their voices heard, communities of Santa Rosa and Jalapa announced last Monday the launch of a campaign to halt Tahoe's expansion. The company's plans to exploit at least 12 mineral veins in an area covering 2,398 square kilometers are moving swiftly ahead despite community opposition and more than a dozen referenda in which more than 53,000 people in six municipalities voted against mining in their territory. See the full press release from communities below.

Residents of Mataquescuintla map Tahoe mining licenses compared to the location of communities, local water sources and forests. Photo NISGUA
Tahoe's decision to move forward with the Juan Bosco license was met with concern and frustration by local residents. At a press conference in Guatemala City on September 1, one resident commented, “In San Juan Bosco we feel indignant because we already had our referenda. We are a community that depends on agriculture and this mine threatens our water. That is why we continue to oppose these projects.”

Likewise, representatives from 10 communities, including three Xinca indigenous communities impacted by Tahoe's expansion plans in the departments of Santa Rosa and Jalapa, expressed concern that neither Tahoe, nor the Guatemalan government respect their right to consultation and self-determination. They also denounced local mayors who are accepting mining royalties against the will of the people.

A representative from the municipality of Santa Rosa de Lima, where in 2012, more than 98% of the population voted against Tahoe Resources' Escobal mine explained: “Our mayor, and others in the region, accepted the royalties – but the money is only serving to line their own pockets... We demand that the government and the company respect our referendum. We may be farmers but we still deserve rights. The constitution applies to everyone.” A representative from San Juan Bosco, in the municipality of San Rafael las Flores where the mine is located agreed: “We haven't seen development. All we have seen are increased conflicts.”

Community representatives also addressed Tahoe Resources' statements contending that the company has social support for the project and that it consulted with local communities, stating “The company says that they consulted with us and that is a lie. What the company does is gather signatures by deceiving people and take advantage of their poverty. The company offers trees or fertilizer and so people give their signatures and ID number. That's not a real consultation.” 

A leader from the Xinca community of Jumaytepeque questioned the discourse of the government and the multinational companies stating, “When they come and tell us that mining brings development, I have to ask, 'then why are we in the same situation, or worse off, than we were 10 years ago?' Every day more and more people are living in poverty. And people living near the mines are faced with health problems they never had before.”

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Press Release: Communities of Santa Rosa and Jalapa Organized in Defense of Territory and Nature 


Since 2012, we have held citizen requested municipal referendums, in which more than 53,000 residents have manifested, through the legitimate exercise of our rights as citizens, that WE DO NOT AGREE with chemical mineral mining in any part of our territory. According to the Constitutional Court, these consultations have been declared constitutionally legal and binding at the municipal level.

Despite the clear rejection of chemical mining of metals in our territory, and with the complicity of the [Guatemalan] government, the company, Minera San Rafael, continues actions focused on entering our municipalities through underhanded measures, knowing full well  that the only thing they achieve is the generation of increased conflict, while disturbing the peace and community tranquillity. Clear proof of this is the granting of the exploration licenses named Juan Bosco and Andres during the first quarter of 2012. These licenses affect municipalities located in [the departments of] Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Guatemala. Now, despite the evident opposition of our communities and in a demonstration of disrespect for the clear wishes of the people, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources has published the Environmental Impact Assessment (2014-EIA-4413) for the  Juan Bosco Mine Exploitation License (LEXR-089-08), for public comment. 

According to a presentation and information presented to investors in June in Vancouver, Canada, Tahoe Resources Inc. (owner of the Minera San Rafael, S.A.) plans to exploit at least 12 mineral veins in our territory,  including gold, silver, zinc, etc. [According to Tahoe Resources] an area of 2,498 km2 will be exploited through various licenses, some that have already been obtained, others that are still in process. However, [the company] is selling this project to investors as though it already owns the land, arguing that the current government is pro-mining and that in Guatemala they pay an extremely low tax rate, making it a profitable business opportunity. 

Faced with this grave situation, we have expressed our opposition to the chemical metal mining in our territories through municipal and good-faith community referendums. Today we are launching a campaign that seeks to make clear to the pro-mining and sell-out Guatemalan government, as well as the mining companies and their investors, that our land is not for sale. We have a development model that respects the environment and Mother Earth. For us, water and life are worth more, much more, than silver or gold.

Therefore, on more than 100 km of highway in our municipalities we have placed signs so that those who enter our territories know that more than 98% of residents do not want the chemical mineral mining and that we are in constant peaceful resistance to these projects.

Guatemala, August 2014

NISGUA has accompanied communities in opposition to the Tahoe Resources Escobal mine since 2011.

Comunidades de Santa Rosa y Jalapa lanzan campaña contra la expansión de Tahoe Resources


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Comunicado de Prensa: Comunidades Organizadas en Defensa del Territorio y la Naturaleza de Santa Rosa y Jalapa

Valla anti-minera ubicada en Mataquescuintla, Jalapa. Photo NISGUA

Desde el año 2012 a la fecha, en nuestros municipios se han realizado Consultas Municipales a Solicitud de Vecinos, en las cuales más de 53 mil vecinas y vecinos, todos ciudadanos en legitimo ejercicio de nuestros derechos ciudadanos, hemos manifestado de manera legal, que NO ESTAMOS DE ACUERDO, con la actividad de minería química de metales, en ninguna parte de nuestro territorio. Estas consultas han sido declaradas constitucionalmente legales y vinculantes a nivel municipal, según resoluciones de la Corte de Constitucionalidad.

A pesar del claro rechazo a la minería química de metales en nuestro territorio, en complicidad con el Gobierno la Empresa Minera San Rafael, continúa con acciones enfocadas en entrar en nuestros municipios de manera solapada, a sabiendas que lo único que logran con ello es generar alta conflictividad y alteración de la paz social y la tranquilidad comunitaria. Una prueba clara de ello, es el otorgamiento de la licencias de exploración denominadas Juan Bosco y Andrés a penas en el primer cuatrimestre del 2,012 que afectan municipios de Santa Rosa, Jalapa y de Guatemala. Actualmente a pesar de la evidente oposición de nuestras comunidades el Ministerio de Ambiente y Recursos Naturales ha puesto ya a la vista el estudio de impacto ambiental 2014-EAI-4413 PROYECTO DE EXPLOTACION MINERA JUAN BOSCO LEXR-089-08, lo cual es un irrespeto a la clara voluntad del pueblo.

Según la presentación e información brindada a sus accionistas el pasado mes de junio, en Vancouver, Canadá Tahoe Resources Inc. Dueña de Minera San Rafael, S.A. pretenden explotar en nuestro territorio al menos 12 vetas de minerales, tales como oro, plata, zinc, etc. En un área de 2,498 kilómetros cuadrados a través de varias licencias, que ya han obtenido y otras que aun se encuentran en trámite, sin embargo venden a inversionistas este proyecto como si ya hubieran obtenido las tierras, argumentando que actualmente hay un gobierno pro-minero y que en Guatemala se paga una bajísima tasa de impuestos convirtiéndose en un negocio redondo, para ellos.

Ante esta grave situación, las comunidades que a través de la Consultas Municipales a solicitud de Vecinos y Consultas de Buena fé, hemos manifestado que no queremos minería química de metales en nuestros territorios, estamos hoy lanzando una campaña que busca dejar claro tanto a este Gobierno entreguista y pro-minero, como a las empresas mineras y sus accionistas que nuestra tierra no está en venta, que tenemos un modelo de desarrollo amigable con el ambiente y la madre tierra, que para nosotros el agua y la vida vale más, mucho más que la plata y el oro.

Por ello a lo largo de más de 100 kilómetros de carretera hemos colocado vallas en nuestros municipios, para que quienes entren en nuestros territorios, sepan que más del 98% de los vecinos no queremos minería química de metales y estamos en una constante resistencia pacífica en contra de estos proyectos.

Guatemala agosto de 2,014.