Bogotá Graffitti, July 2008
dear friends of blog.reportero.org,
I’m posting regularly on a variety of topics on my blog at the Dominion.
Bogotá Graffitti, July 2008
dear friends of blog.reportero.org,
I’m posting regularly on a variety of topics on my blog at the Dominion.
Click here to read my latest article, Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal in Colombia: Corporations with a License to Kill.
“The final verdict, read to the large crowd, summarized much of Colombia’s recent history, condemning the Colombian government, 43 multinational corporations, and the U.S. government for their role in the violence that has long dominated the lives of Colombians. The audience was made up of people from a broad spectrum of social movements and organizations from around the country, and listened rapt during the reading of the sentence.”
“El más humilde de los Guatemaltecos, el más explotado y marginado, el más enfermo e ignorante, vale más que todas las riquezas de la patria. Y su vida es sagrada e intocable.”
“The poorest of all Guatemalans, the most exploited and marginalized, the sickest and most ignorant, is worth more than all of the riches of our homeland. And her life is sacred and untouchable.”
-Alvaro Ramazzini, obispo de/Bishop of San Marcos, Guatemala, 27/01/2005.
I’ve got new photos up on the ol’ flickr. Also wanted to do a shout out to La Chiva, a Canada - Colombia Solidarity group based in Edmonton, and soon to be out of Vancouver as well. Their website rocks.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY
Contact: Beth Geglia: email@example.com; 510-868-0612
Crackdown on Local Citizens Opposing Goldcorp’s “Marlin” Mine Escalates in San Marcos, Guatemala
Nine New Arrest Warrants Issued Against Eight Women and One Man; Community Leaders Receive Death Threats
July 2, 2008
Tensions have increased in recent days in San Miguel Ixthauacán, located in the western highlands of Guatemala, as local opponents to the Canadian company Goldcorp’s profitable “Marlin” mine have received nine new arrest warrants, contributing to an escalating climate of tension for human rights defenders and community organizers in the region.
In late 2007, a community member returned to her home in San Miguel Ixtahuacán to find a new electric post installed on her property, which channeled electricity to the nearby Marlin gold and silver mine. On June 13th, after having spent many months attempting to persuade the company to remove the unwanted power line from her property, the woman, who opposes the Marlin mine’s operation in her community, finally took matters into her own hands and forcibly blocked the electricity flowing from the power line. Within days, 9 arrest warrants were issued for individuals known for their involvement in local community organizations opposing the mine – 8 women and one man. This follows an incident in 2007 where 7 local men demanding accountability and compensation from the mining company Montana Exploradora (a Goldcorp subsidiary) for coercive land appropriating tactics in their communities, equally innocent of having committed any crime, were targeted and arrested. Five of the men were ultimately acquitted, while 2 were sentenced to a Guatemalan form of “house arrest.” The newest series of arrest warrants further demonstrate the company’s willingness to criminalize affected peoples who present any opposition to their mining operations.
Contributing to the increasing tensions in the area are rumors that the mine does not have enough electricity to operate and will be shutting down its operations for 3 months. NISGUA attempted to contact officials at the mine company headquarters, but was unable to confirm this rumor as true or false. Nonetheless, this rumor has gained traction in the region, angering local mine workers who would face economic hardships if the mine were to shut down for any length of time. Additionally, there is a rumor allegedly from the company-sponsored organization, Sierra Madre, that community schools sponsored by the company will be closed in the region.
These rumors are currently fueling conflict between those in the region opposing the mine and those in the region who are now dependent on the mine for their jobs. As part of the escalating tension, Mario Tema Bautista, a community leader in Sipakapa who opposes the mine, has received concerning indirect death threats, whereby he has been told that some workers from the community are planning attacks against him because of the supposed suspension of mining operations. Community leaders and human rights defenders in San Miguel Ixtahuacan have received direct threats from groups of employees of Montana Exploradora.
In addition, affected community organizations recently accepted an invitation from the company to dialogue under certain conditions for negotiation. The conditions demanded by the affected community organizations included the suspension of the nine arrest warrants against their fellow community members, and the suspension of mining operations in order to create the necessary conditions for true dialogue. The company has not yet responded at this time.
NISGUA and other international organizations are closely monitoring the situation on the ground and will disseminate updated information as we receive it. It is our view that whether or not the rumors of mine suspension are true, and whether or not the rumors of school closures are true, it is the company’s responsibility to clearly communicate their plan to the communities so that rumors don’t spread and fuel local conflicts that could result in violence. By staying silent as tensions escalate, the company becomes complicit in any future acts of violence that may take place due to these tensions and rumors about their operations.
Read my latest article, about Canada’s FTAs with Peru and Colombia…
“In Canada, the Harper government and the mainstream media bombard the population with the idea that Free Trade Agreements are about prosperity, economic growth, security, equitability, and democracy. A cursory look at the facts shows us that these agreements negotiated and signed in complete secrecy, actually best represent the wishes of large corporations, and lack even a token amount of democratic participation.”
“Or - La terre à coeur ouvert,” the French version of “Taking the Heart from the Land,” a comic that I wrote and Joe Ollman illustrated, originally published in Extraction!, is now available online from the National Film Board.
The Investing in Conflict booklet that I put together with help from a variety of organizations and wonderful folks/volunteers, contains a major error, which unfortunately wasn’t caught before the first edition went to the printers.
It is in the introduction, in a phrase that reads “Miners are rolling in money.” That phrase should (and will in future editions) read “Mining companies and their executives are rolling in money.”
Jeffrey St. Claire’s newest piece, What a Miner’s life is worth, explains the deadly and difficult conditions facing mineworkers in the United States, and is well worth the read.
PUBLIC STATEMENT IN FAVOUR OF COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY OPEN PIT MINING
To Human Rights Organizations, the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office in
Guatemala, the United Nations in Guatemala, Indigenous Peoples around
the world, and to National and International Communities.
The company Montana Exploradora de Guatemala (subsidiary of Goldcorp
Inc.), thought their Marlin Mine, has caused great damages to our
lives and livelihoods, and continues to commit atrocities that violate
fundamental human rights, particularly of the Mayan Mam peoples in the
municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, peoples who are the original
inhabitants of the lands which have been concessioned in the interest
of transnational corporations by the Guatemalan state.
On the 13th of June, Montana Exploradora de Guatemala (Goldcorp) acted
via the National Civil Police (PNC) to repress women, children and men
who are reclaiming the guarantees of their lives and livelihoods,
which are threatened and assaulted by the actions of the company.
These actions by the police are the response to the permanent
resistance of an organization of families who do not want the mining
company or the presence of electrical wires and transformers to
service the mine in their territories.
For these reasons, we publicly denounce the actions of the National
Civil Police in favour of the mining company, acts which include
threatening dozens of local children with tear gas, as well as the use
of force against women who took peaceful action to demonstrate that
they do not want the mining company in their community and territory.
1. THE THREAT OF ELECTRICAL TOWERS
The posts that support the high voltage cables are about to fall upon
homes that are located near the posts, in addition, the high voltage
tower provokes illnesses because of radiation, which is cause for
worry for families that live in the area.
2. TRICKERY AND LIES IN THE PURCHASE OF COMMUNAL LANDS
When the company arrived in the communities, they said that they were
going to do a field study and set up a project for the production of
orchids in order to generate work for the communities. In this way,
they tricked the communities into the sale of lands, even though the
communities defended their rights and rejected the company’s plans.
Faced with community resistance, the company used coercive force and
death threats, and argued that even though the surface lands belonged
to the communities, the subsurface belonged to the state and thus the
communities were unable to defend themselves because they didn’t know
3. WORSENING OF THE DAMAGES TO PEOPLES’ HOMES
From 2006, when the explosions to break up the rock and extract GOLD
and SILVER from our lands began, until now, there are more than 100
homes that have been damaged and cracked as a result.
BECAUSE OF THIS, WE DEMAND THAT:
1. the national community begin an immediate observation of what is
happening; and that the government respect for our rights as
Indigenous peoples, and comply with the Constitution of the Republic
and international treaties that affect Indigenous peoples,
particularly the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169.
2. human rights organizations make use of the studies presented to
them in order to clarify the actions committed by the police and
company security guards.
3. the Attorney General’s office fulfils their duty and realizes an
investigation into the actions committed by public forces.
4. the international community observes and acts in solidarity with
our dignified struggles in defense of our legitimate rights, so that
these acts do not remain in impunity.
5. the United Nations provide observers.
COMMUNITIES IN RESISTANCE
PARISH OF SAN MIGUEL IXTAHUACÁN
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