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Zibechi: Extractivism staggers

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Chiapas Support Committee


Conflicts over Tia Maria Mine have left 4 people dead in Peru. Conflicts over Tia Maria Mine have left 4 people dead in Peru.

By: Raúl Zibechi

Resistance to extractivism [1] is sweeping the Latin American continent, from north to south, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, involving all the countries, forcing governments to put its military in the streets and decree states of emergency to terrorize populations that no longer yield, because they are suffering the consequences of the model.

Open sky mega-mining, large public works like hydroelectric dams, mono-crops fumigated with glyphosate and real estate speculation are being responded to as never before in intensity, extension and duration. The peoples are obtaining pueblos important victories in recent years: paralyzing the planting of Monsanto seeds in Malvinas Argentina; stopping the Barrick Gold, Pascua Lama bi-national project; postponing the construction of dozens of dams, as happened with La Parota, in México.

In recent weeks it has been the population of…

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Hip-Hop for Social Justice: MC Lethal from San Isidro Cabañas, El Salvador

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MC Lethal of El Salvador raps to protest Pacific Rim, a Canadian and U.S. mining transnational.  Pacific Rim is currently suing the state of El Salvador in international court, arguing that their investment “rights” were violated when the Salvadoran government refused to grant it a permit.  Popular opposition to mining has grown in El Salvador, due to concerns about economic exploitation, environmental and health concerns.

Poor Guatemalans Are Taking On North American Mining Companies—and Have the Bullet Wounds to Prove It

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Tahoe On Trial

Jimmy Tobias, The Nation, January 14, 2015

As nonviolent protests have spread throughout the country, the right-wing government and the mines’ security operations have responded with force.

A bullet is lodged near Yolanda Oquelí’s liver. It’s been there since June 13, 2012, when two masked men on a motorcycle fired a barrage of bullets into her car as she drove home on a dusty mountain road after attending a protest with friends and neighbors. A ball of hot lead brushed her stomach and barely missed her spine. After the gunmen fled, she was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.

For the full article, click here.

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Amnesty International publishes report on human rights and mining projects in Guatemala

Source:  Amnesty International

19 September 2014

Guatemala stokes conflict around mining by failing to consult communities

Sign outside a silver mine in San Rafael Las Flores, Guatemala.

Sign outside a silver mine in San Rafael Las Flores, Guatemala. © Private

“We’re concerned that the violence seen in the past will continue if a fair and balanced consultation process is not introduced.”
Amnesty International’s Erika Guevara Rosas

The Guatemalan government is fuelling the fires of conflict by failing to consult local communities before awarding mining licences to companies, effectively raising the risk of bloodshed and bulldozing over the rights of its people, said Amnesty International today.

The report, Mining in Guatemala: Rights at Risk, published today, exposes significant gaps in protection for communities affected by mining projects. New legislation put forward by the Guatemalan government not only fails to address widespread concerns among Indigenous and rural communities about a lack of consultation, but includes measures that may exacerbate existing tensions.

“The proposed legislation effectively side-steps the concerns of communities. It does not address the issue of consultation in any meaningful way. If enacted it would essentially mean that communities’ views and concerns continue to be ignored. This is a significant missed opportunity,” said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director of Amnesty International.

Reforms to the Mining Law are currently before Congress having been drafted in 2012. However, the proposed reforms will simply replicate the current loopholes allowing just 10 days for challenges to licence applications, exacerbating the problem of lack of consultation.

Tensions over a lack of fair process and proper consultation have previously led to violent confrontations, with protesters clashing with security guards and police over the proposed mine site.

International human rights standards require that those potentially affected by mining projects must be consulted and adequately informed, and that projects on Indigenous peoples’ land should only proceed with their free, prior and informed consent.

“Analyzing the implications of any mining project takes time, and 10 days to respond to a licence application is not realistic for communities who might be affected and therefore need to examine the proposal carefully,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

“We’re concerned that the violence seen in the past will continue if a fair and balanced consultation process is not introduced. We are also aware that the rights of Indigenous peoples are not being respected,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

In many cases, the authorities have failed to thoroughly investigate the death and injury of those protesting against mining projects.

On 13 June 2012, activist Yolanda Oquelí was shot and seriously injured by two unknown assailants. She was returning from a protest over mining when two men on a motorbike cut across her path and fired at her with a pistol. She was hit by one bullet which lodged close to her liver. She survived the attack and went into hiding with her family.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered the Guatemalan government to provide protection to Yolanda Oquelí and her family. Although the Public Ministry opened an investigation into the attack, to date no one has been brought to justice.

“The violence and repression that has taken root around mining in Guatemala cannot continue. The Guatemalan government must ensure that they implement and respect legislation to facilitate dialogue and decision-making between mining companies, state authorities and affected people. Communities must be provided with full and objective information about the benefits and risks of mining in a clear and culturally appropriate manner,” said Erika Guevara Rosas.

“We are also calling on the home governments of foreign-owned mining companies in Guatemala to monitor and hold their companies to account for the human rights impact of their activities, wherever they operate.”

Additional information

Many of the high-profile companies currently operating in Guatemala are subsidiaries of Canadian companies.

Guatemala is still struggling to deal with the legacy of past human rights abuses from the internal armed conflict (1960-1996) when over 200,000 people were killed, including an estimated 40,000 who were forcibly “disappeared”.

Today, Indigenous peoples remain economically and socially marginalised. Land tenure is a particular problem, with Indigenous communities bearing the brunt of acute inequality in the distribution of land.

In Guatemala approximately 30 per cent of the population lives in extreme poverty.

Amnesty International is presenting the report Mining in Guatemala: Rights at risk in Guatemala City today with a delegation comprised of Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, Sebastian Elgueta, Central America Researcher, and Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada’s Business and Human Rights Campaigner.

New Report Explores Harmful Impacts of Canadian Mining in Latin America

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Guatemala Human Rights Commission

MarlinMine1 A crater and contaminated rubble — results of the Marlin Mine in Guatemala. Photo by James Rodríguez

A recent report presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) explores the growing presence of Canadian mining companies in Latin America, highlighting a series of environmental and social concerns, and raising questions about who should ultimately be held responsible for violations related to Canadian-owned projects. The report, titled The Impact of Canadian Mining in Latin America and Canada’s responsibility [full report in Spanish], was written by a working group made up of six civil society organizations from Latin America and one from the US, with input from twenty-two additional Latin America-based organizations.

Open pit mining is well known to cause serious environmental damage, and the authors draw particular attention to the contamination of rivers and drinking water. The damning report also describes flagrant violations of the right to life…

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Anti-mining resistance group “La Puya” again under attack

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Non-violent resistance movement “La Puya”, who have been peacefully protesting the construction of a mine in their community, were again subject to intimidation and harassment when approximately 300 National Police (PNC), as well as a truckload of soldiers, arrived at their encampment.

La Puya, Guatemala, mining, Human Rights

Photo credit: Nelson Rivera Gonzalez, Prensa Comunitaria

Due to the overwhelming unity and non-violent resistance of the community, the PNC eventually left area.  However, the situation remains tense, with concerns about further intimidation and violence.


The community encampment “La Puya” at San José del Golfo, Guatemala recently celebrated 2 years of peaceful resistance. They have utilized a number of non-violent tactics, including the peaceful blockade of the road leading to the proposed mine site, mass mobilization of community members, and linkage with environmental and solidarity groups.  La Puya been an inspiration for other environmental justice movements in Guatemala and has been lauded by international groups; in 2012, two communities that have participated in the resistance movement ” La Puya”, San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc, were awarded the Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defender Award in recognition of their struggle for justice.

La Puya: Celebrating Two Years of Peaceful Resistance from Guatemala Human Rights on Vimeo.

Working within a national climate of impunity and increasing militarization, activists with La Puya have faced police harassment, threats by ex-military personnel employed by the mine project,  arrests and lengthy legal battles on trumped-up charges.  In 2012, Yolanda Oquelí was shot by unknown assailants, in an act which is widely believed to be related to her leadership in the movement.

In February, I had the privilege of visiting La Puya as part of the School of Americas Watch delegation. During the visit, community members spoke eloquently about the reasons for their opposition to the mine, which include concerns about health and environmental effects. See my re-post of Richard Ring’s article here.

Recent developments

In late February, members of La Puya celebrated when the company contracted to provide heavy machinery cut their ties with the project and removed their equipment.  Sadly, KCA and its local subsidiary, EXMINGUA, have now contracted with a new company, who attempted to move in equipment on April 9. They were escorted by the National Police (PNC), per an order by the Ministry of the Interior.  When the community arrived en masse to oppose the entrance of the equipment into the area, approximately 300 PNC arrived, many dressed in riot gear.  A representative of EXMINGUA arrived and made a number of false and inflammatory statements to the press about the members of La Puya.  Eventually, the contractor left and the non-violent encampment was not destroyed, however, police presence continues in the area.  There are concerns that an eviction and arrests may be imminent.

La Puya, anti-mining, Guatemala

Entrance to “La Puya” non-violent encampment

As quoted in an article written by Benjamin Reeves and published in VICE, KCA has all intentions of continuing with the project and is considering suing the Guatemalan state.  Ryan Adams, a representative for KCA, was interviewed for the article and commented that he “is in regular communication with President Perez Molina and the president supported the project.”  Adams also reported, per the article, that KCA “had a big law group out of D.C.” send a letter to the Guatemalan mining minister, explaining that KCA is suing the government for “inaction” by the National Police.  “They can’t afford this lawsuit”, Adams stated.

Urgent Action

The Network for People in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA) and the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC) have sent out an Urgent Action, asking that the human rights of the people at La Puya are respected by the Guatemalan government and the mining company.


The full post can be read here.
The communities opposing KCA’s El Tambor gold mine have made clear that their actions are focused on stopping a project that will destroy their lives and livelihoods. They are not blocking the public road or impeding free transit. The communities maintain their willingness to dialogue with the government.
Excessive police presence continues in areas surrounding La Puya and there is concern that a violent eviction will be attempted in the near future.

Take Action!

Call and email Kappes Cassiday and Associates CEO, Dan Kappes, and the Ministry of the Interior in Guatemala now:

  • Express your concern for the safety of the men, women and children in peaceful resistance;
  • Demand an end to intimidation and harassment by police and private security, and respect for human rights;
  • Urge respect for the ongoing dialogue and No to eviction of La Puya.

Kappes Cassiday and Associates
Dan Kappes –
Ryan Adams –
US Phone (775) 972- 7575

Ministry of the Interior
Minister Mauricio López Bonilla –
Guatemala Phone (011) 502-2413-8888

Documentary “Gold Fever” streaming free on April 17

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Gold Fever, anti-mining, Guatemala, Goldcorps

Gold Fever, a powerful new documentary about anti-mining resistance in Guatemala, will stream for free online on April 17. More info is available on Thunderclap.

Per the film’s trailer on Vimeo:

Tragic and inspiring, Gold Fever witnesses the arrival of Goldcorp Inc to a remote Guatemalan village. 500 years after the conquistadors invaded, and still reeling from decades of US-backed repression, San Miguel Ixtahuacán is caught at the front lines of an increasingly globalized world. Meanwhile, in the North, fearful investors flock to gold and some call for the return of the Gold Standard. “What is the value of the one place we have to live?” Commentators Noam Chomsky, Magalí Rey Rosa, and “economic hitman” John Perkins draw connections between the stratospheric forces of Wall Street and San Miguel’s struggle.

Winner of the Rigoberta Mechú Grand Prix at the 2013 Montreal First Peoples Festival, Gold Fever is a hard-hitting documentary about the destruction and exploitation of transnational mining. Together with members of their divided community, and in the face of grave consequences, Diodora, Crisanta and Gregoria resist the threat to their ancestral lands.

The trailer:

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