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 …
The World Bank
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.
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
Ma’ Jawil Q’ij Women’s Community Association (ASIFEMQ’)
Rosario Bámaca Yoc
Association for San Miguel’s Development(ADIM)
The Association for Holistic Mayan Development (Acjhmol ADIMA)
Javier de León López
The Movement of Rural Workers (MTC)