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Peace, Social Justice and Integrity of Creation

Statements on mining in Guatemala

The Guatemala Human Rights Committee circulated the following statements on mining, which were presented to World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz on behalf of community representatives from the Guatemalan communities of Sipacapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán. Mario Tema of Sipacapa and Magalí Rey Rosa of Colectivo Madre Selva met with Wolfowitz to request that the World Bank respect the socioeconomic and cultural rights of people living in the area. These statements, as well as a statement by the Halifax Initiative and Friends of the Earth, can be found in Spanish and English at the Friends of the Earth-Canada website.


Following is the letter from the Sipacapa community …

En Espanol

The President
The World Bank
Washington, D.C.

We, the undersigned legal representatives of Civil Associations for Development and Community Development Councils of the Municipality of Sipacapa, in the Department of San Marcos, Guatemala, hereby respectfully state:


a) As you know, Glamis Gold Ltd., which undertakes open pit mineral exploitation, established the Montana Exploradora de Guatemala S.A. company to develop the Marlin I mining project in the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa in the Department of San Marcos, Guatemala. These municipalities are populated by the Mam and Sipakapense Mayan peoples. Montana began operating in these municipalities despite the lack of government consultations with the inhabitants. We consider this to be a violation of indigenous peoples’ human rights, as guaranteed under the Peace Accords, particularly the Accord on Identity and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and under Convention No.169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, which was ratified by Guatemala in 1996.

 b) On February 19, 2004, the inhabitants of Sipacapa staged a peaceful march to demand, among other things, that the municipal government inform the population regarding the advantages and risks associated with this kind of activity and that the local population be asked to give its opinion regarding mining activity, which could be detrimental to the social, cultural, and environmental interests of our territory. On May 31 of the same year, an event was undertaken with the principal authorities in the Department: deputies, the Governor and mayors, to bring our concern regarding open pit mining to their attention.

 c) The Guatemalan Government’s failure to fulfill its legal obligation to consult with the population, as established under the laws of Guatemala, including the Municipal Code, laws governing the Development Councils and ILO Convention 169, was taken advantage of by the company Montana/Glamis. According to the company, it undertook “consultation activities with the communities.” The public is not aware of such activities and they are not a substitute for the expression of a people that is the legal owner of its territory.

 d) As a result of the above, the Sipakapense people organized and carried out a community consultation on June 18, 2005 to establish its position on mining. Of the 13 villages comprising Sipacapa, 11 disapproved of mining, only one voted in favor, and another abstained.

 e) On June 21, 2005, the Municipal Council issued a MUNICIPAL AGREEMENT, which, in its operative section, states: “Agrees: 1) To abide by the outcome of the Community Consultation carried out on June 18, 2005 by the community authorities of the villages in the Municipality of Sipacapa, San Marcos.” Thus, in accordance with law, the decision of the citizens is to reject the exploration, exploitation, and extraction of minerals in the territory of the Sipakapense people. In light of the above we hereby respectfully


 I. Support for the decision of the Sipakapense people, as expressed in their Consultation, to REJECT the exploration, exploitation, and expansion of metal ore mining in their territory; the withdrawal of the installations and offices of Montana and Sierra Madre from the municipal district of Sipacapa; and the provision of guarantees that the Sipakapense territory will not suffer any damage or negative impact as a consequence of mining activity.

 II. That, in honor of its original mission to reduce poverty, the World Bank support the Sipakapense people with a development project that is based on the management of their territory and natural resources, which constitute the ancestral legacy of the Mayan people, and that is generated by the inhabitants themselves for their economic, social and democratic advancement, in a manner that is compatible with the Mayan Cosmo vision that respects Mother Earth.

 III. In the event that points I and II are not met, that the World Bank withdraw the loan granted to Glamis Gold.

 Sipacapa, December 1, 2005

 [signed by 10 community development councils - 'cocodes' and several local associations]


 Declaration of San Miguel Ixtahuacán

 En Espanol

 Third Mesoamerican Meeting of Indigenous Communities

San Miguel Ixtahuacán, December 2-4, 2005

Declaration of San Miguel Ixtahuacán to the National and International Public

The representatives of the organizations and the leaders of the communities in the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán meeting in this third Mesoamerican Conference declare that:

FIRST: The communities that occupy this municipality are aware that the Guatemalan State has violated our Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by not consulting us and allowing and supporting the operations of the Canadian Transnational Glamis Gold Ltd., and their subsidiary, Montana Exploradora of Guatemala, which is currently exploiting gold and silver in open pit mines on our territory.

SECOND: The company, with the use of paramilitary units and the company’s own security, is provoking social instability and insecurity in our communities through threats and intimidations that have reached the point of provoking the death of our brother Alvaro Sánchez, by members of Montana Exploradora’s security forces, leaving behind a widow and two young orphans whom were coerced into not taking the support payments that the law provided them. This reflects the beginnings of the social impacts that the presence of this company is provoking in our municipality, and we cannot expect better in the future.

THIRD: A strategy of trickery is being employed by Montana Exploraora, through its foundation Sierra Madre, which, by offering projects to the communities in an attempt to offset the environmental and social impacts of the mine, plays with the dignity of the municipality by interfering in community necessities that are not being provided for by the State (reproductive health, sports fields, the pavement of the main entrance road to San Miguel, a technology center) and manipulates some leaders into accepting Montana’s proposals, which has provoked great division, verbal attacks and insults between the inhabitants of some communities in the municipality.

Therefore we demand:

That the Guatemalan State respects our Rights as Ancient Indigenous Communities with our own culture and respect our own world view.

That the National and International Human Rights Organizations verify and ensure compliance with all treaties, accords and other laws on Human Rights, especially those dealing with Indigenous Rights.

That the World Bank withdraw its financial support of the Transnational Glamis Gold Ltd., because of the violations and trickery which Glamis has committed in our communities, by claiming that it held real consultations with the communities of this municipality about the mine (according to its reports), which is completely false.

That the United Nations should comply with its mandate of promoting the culture of Indigenous Communities with their own autonomous territory, self determination and identity.

We ask for prompt compliance with our demands, given in the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, the third of December in the year 2005.


The Association for the Holistic Development of San Miguel (ADISMA)

Melecio Valerio de León Aguilar

Fidel Bravo


Ma’ Jawil Q’ij Women’s Community Association (ASIFEMQ’)

Margarita Yoc

Rosario Bámaca Yoc


Association for San Miguel’s Development(ADIM)

Eusebio Juárez

Ricardo Domingo


The Association for Holistic Mayan Development (Acjhmol ADIMA)

Roland López

Javier de León López


The Movement of Rural Workers (MTC)

Vinicio López

Justo Velásquez


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