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The Marlin Mine and Women’s Resistance

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Latin American Advocacy Blog

nancy mcc Nancy and Crisanta

Español  By Nancy Sabas, the Connecting Peoples Coordinator for MCC Guatemala/El Salvador, originally from Honduras.


Was it you who sent the miners?
They violate the womb of Mother Earth
They take the gold, destroying the hills.
One gram of blood is worth more than a thousand kilos of gold.
What about my people?
And you, my God, where are you hiding?
Fear paralyzes us
My people are sold and they do not realize it.

-Portion of a song written by the Parish of San Miguel Ixtahuacán.

 

A few weeks ago, I organized a learning tour for North American participants to discuss the mining industry in Guatemala, On the tour, we visited the department of San Marcos and surrounding communities that deal with this problem.

Mining operations in Guatemala are not a recent issue. In 1998, two years after the signing of the peace agreement following a…

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Marcial Pablo Baranda

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Jan Nimmo

Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Marcial Pablo Baranda . Digital collage: Jan Nimmo © Yo, Jan Nimmo, Glasgow, Escocia, quiero saber dónde está Marcial Pablo Baranda . Digital collage: Jan Nimmo ©

This is another portrait in my series of the 43 Normalista students from the Escuela Rural “Raul Isidro Burgos”, Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, who were disappeared on the 26th September 2014 in Iguala.

According to his fellow students Marcial is 20 years old and at the time of his disappearance was studying to become a bilingual teacher as he spoke an indigenous language (I’m not sure if it is Amuzgo or Mixtec which he speaks as he is from the Costa Chica). He and the other students have been training to become bilingual teachers so that they could give children an education in some of the poorest indigenous villages in Guerrero. This was something which drove Marcial in his work. His friends describe him as short and good natured.

His nickname is “Magallón” because his family have a band of the same name; musicians who play tropical, coastal music such as Cumbia. His…

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Excelente artículo de Eduardo Galeano sobre GAZA

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The following post about Palestine was written in 2012, but is just as relevant today. The United States continues to generously fund the Israeli war machine, and our leaders have only tepidly criticized the recent violence committed by the Israeli military. Activists must continue to call on Congress to ban military aid to Israel. I’m attaching an English translation of Galeano’s words.

Falsasbanderas.com

cartel_noaz[1].jpgPalestina.Cartel de NOAZ.

GAZA

Por Eduardo Galeano

Para justificarse, el terrorismo de Estado fabrica terroristas: siembra odio y cosecha coartadas. Todo indica que esta carnicería de Gaza, que según sus autores quiere acabar con los terroristas, logrará multiplicarlos.

Desde 1948, los palestinos viven condenados a humillación perpetua. No pueden ni respirar sin permiso. Han perdido su patria, sus tierras, su agua, su libertad, su todo. Ni siquiera tienen derecho a elegir sus gobernantes. Cuando votan a quien no deben votar, son castigados. Gaza está siendo castigada. Se convirtió en una ratonera sin salida, desde que Hamas ganó limpiamente las elecciones en el año 2006. Algo parecido había ocurrido en 1932, cuando el Partido Comunista triunfó en las elecciones de El Salvador. Bañados en sangre, los salvadoreños expiaron su mala conducta y desde entonces vivieron sometidos a dictaduras militares. La democracia es un lujo que no todos merecen.

Son hijos de…

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NYT: Lawmakers Ask State Dept. to Review Support for Honduras

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108 members of the U.S. House or Representatives have submitted a “Dear Colleague” letter to Secretary of State John Kerry re: human rights in Honduras. In the letter, the critical human rights situation in Honduras is outlined, and calls are made to evaluate the U.S. role in funding and supporting the Honduran security forces.

This important letter was made possible by the leadership of Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) and the advocacy of human rights and solidarity activists.  Special credit is due to the Chicago Religious Leadership Network, who worked hard to educate members of U.S. Congress on Honduras and U.S. military aid.  It’s always important to remember that without our activist efforts, elected officials may not take action on issues important to human rights and foreign policy in Latin America.

The following is an article by the New York Times on the Dear Colleague letter:

In the past few months, international organizations have raised renewed concern over the targeted killings of journalists and advocates for human and land rights.

The letter to Secretary of State John Kerry was signed by 108 members of Congress, led by Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois. In it, the lawmakers argued that the government of President Juan Orlando Hernández has “adopted policies that threaten to make the human rights situation even worse” by promoting a militarized police force and using its army for domestic law enforcement.

The letter called on the State Department to evaluate Washington’s support and training for the Honduran police and military.

In its 2013 human rights report, the State Department acknowledged the severity of human rights abuses in Honduras. It described the “corruption, intimidation, and institutional weakness of the justice system leading to widespread impunity,” along with “unlawful and arbitrary killings by security forces, organized criminal elements, and others.”

The letter from House members mentioned the tear-gassing of opposition legislators and activists during a protest in the Honduran Congress building two weeks ago, as well as the killings of lawyers and human rights defenders, among others.

Other outbreaks of violence over the past few weeks have continued the pattern.

Carlos Mejia Orellana, Honduras, ERIC, Radio Progreso

Carlos Mejia Orellana of Radio Progreso, killed in April. Photo credit: Honduras Tierra Libre.

In April, Carlos Mejía Orellana, the marketing director of Radio Progreso, a Jesuit radio station critical of the government, was stabbed to death in El Progreso. His killing prompted a statement at the time from Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, saying, “Too often, Honduran officials have dismissed threats and attacks against journalists, and questioned whether the violence was connected to the victims’ profession.”

Other homicide investigations have been quick to assign personal motives or describe killings as tied to robberies.

Last week Aníbal Duarte, the popular mayor of the municipality of Iriona, was shot and killed in front of his family in a hotel swimming pool in Jutiapa, near the Caribbean port city of La Ceiba.

Mr. Duarte administered a vast and sparsely populated territory in northeastern Honduras where illegal logging and drug trafficking are rampant. Officials in the investigative arm of the national police told local reporters that they believed a personal dispute was behind his killing.

Three days later, a government forester was fatally shot in La Ceiba as he got off a bus. The victim, José Alexander González Cerros, 33, who worked in the Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, had recently reported illegal logging in the area.

In another case, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a statement this month condemning the killing of Orlando Orellana, 75, a rights advocate who led a community in a property dispute outside the city of San Pedro Sula, in the northwest. No arrests have been made in these deaths.

The commission also expressed concern about the rising number of children and young people who have been victims of violence in Honduras. Casa Alianza, an organization that works with street children, presented a report last month showing that 270 children and young people throughout Honduras had been killed in the first three months of this year. Two weeks later José Guadalupe Ruelas, the director of the Honduras branch of the group, was beaten by the military police.

 

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.

Background

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.

From NISGUA:

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 – kca@kcareno.com
Ryan Adams – radams@kcareno.com
US Phone (775) 972- 7575


Ministry of the Interior
Minister Mauricio López Bonilla – fdeleon@mingob.gob.gt
Guatemala Phone (011) 502-2413-8888

The Global Fight Against Corporate Rule | The Nation

I’m busy working on pieces about further community and activist contacts  I had with the School of Americas Watch delegation to Guatemala.  In the meantime, please check out this article from The Nation about “investor rights” and mining – it has great info about the impact of NAFTA/CAFTA on community struggles against transnational mining projects.  Please click on the link below:

The Global Fight Against Corporate Rule | The Nation.

U.S.Congress: Implement reparations for victims of the Chixoy Dam project

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The construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam, discussed in my previous post, has often been cited as “development at its worst”.  Financed by the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), the project led to the displacement, torture and death of thousands of Maya Achi area residents.

Chixoy Hydroelectric Plant, Guatemala

Chixoy Hydroelectric Plant. Author: INDE  [CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Nearly 32 years after a series of army- and paramilitary-led massacres, the survivors saw an advance in their long struggle for justice, via a directive in the new U.S. appropriations bill aimed at the World Bank and the IADB.

Per the U.S. Consolidated Appropriations Bill  signed into law on January 17:

“The Secretary of the Treasury shall direct the United States executive directors of the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank to report….. on the steps being taken by such institutions  to support implementation of the April 2010 Reparation Plan for Damages Suffered by the Communities Affected by the Construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Dam in Guatemala.”  p. 1240, Section F.

In short,  Congress is directing the U.S. directors of the World Bank and IADB to make regular reports on the progress of the implementation of the 201o Reparation Plan.  Although technically the U.S. can’t obligate the World Bank to act, it holds considerable weight as one its largest donors.

Chixoy Dam, Rio Negro massacre, Guatemala, genocide

Cross of Remembrance – Rio Negro Massacres . Author: Burt Hanson, International Rivers (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Background: The Chixoy reparations plan was the product of years of activism by the Maya Achi survivors, as well as partner solidarity groups.  In 2005, after more than ten years of struggle, the government of Guatemala formally accepted responsibility for the harm caused by the project and a $145,000 reparations plan was brokered by the Organization of the American States. Nearly four years later, the current president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina (a former army general with his own history of human rights violations), has refused to take substantive steps to implement the Reparation Plan. The World Bank and IADB have not taken responsibility. 

Please view this compelling video, “No Reparations, No Peace” about the struggle of the Chixoy survivors to attain justice:

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