Archive | August 3, 2014

Guatemala’s Mayans Defeat Goldcorp in Court*

Guatemala’s Mayans Defeat Goldcorp in Court*

By Christin Sandberg

A Guatemalan court ruled in favour of the indigenous people of the municipality of Sipacapa. The court says the Guatemalan government must respect the right to information and consultation with the local population before granting any kind of mining permits, according to international conventions. As a consequence the mining permit named ”Los Chocoyos” is illegal, and should be withdrawn.

”This judgment states the obligation of the Guatemalan government to respect the indigenous people’s right to information and consultation before granting mining permits in indigenous territories, in accordance with both United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and International Labor Organization Convention 169. Otherwise they are illegal,” said Esperanza Pérez, from the Mayan Council of Sipacapa during a press conference held July 23.

In April of 2012 the General Director of the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) granted the local company Entre Mares de Guatemala S.A., a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Goldcorp Inc., a prospecting permit, ”Chocoyos” in Sipacapan territory. The permit was given without prior information or consultation with the local people. Since then, Entre Mares has had the permission to study, analyze and evaluate any metals such as, gold, silver, nickel, cobalt, lead and zinc within the region.

On March 24, 2014, the Mayan Council of Sipacapa claimed their collective rights and demanded the cancelation of the mining permit “Chocoyos” in a public hearing in an appellate court in Guatemala City.

On Friday, July 18, 2014 they were notified of the judgment. Maximiliano Ambrosio from the Mayan Council of Sipacapa commented on the court’s decision at the press conference on July 23: “We filed the petition considering the devastating consequences mining activities bring both on community level and to our environment and daily lives. And now, we have received a judgment in favor of the people of Sipacapa which means our territory belongs to us.”

The judgment also claims another important point for the local people, which is the court’s recognition of the Mayan Council of Sipacapa representing the people of Sipacapa as a legal part in the case, explained Deny de Leon, legal attorney at Comisión Paz y Ecología (Copae), an organization who has accompanied the petition. ”It is a historical and an important political moment when the state of Guatemala through this judgment recognizes the proper organization of the indigenous communities, a collective right, and in this case represented by the Mayan Council of Sipacapa,” said Deny de Leon at the press conference.

CAFOD and Canada’s Development & Peace demand action from mining giant Goldcorp as villagers fear gold mine is poisoning people and the environment

Located in the northwestern highlands, 300 kilometers from Guatemala City, Sipacapa counts with 18,000 inhabitants and a property title guaranteeing the collective ownership of their territory.

However, “Chocoyos” is not the only mining project in this area. Already in 1998 the Marlin Mine, which is the biggest goldmine in Guatemala, was discovered by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala S.A., a subsidiary to the same Goldcorp Inc. In November 2003 the permit for exploitation was granted and shortly afterwards the production process was started, according to information on the company’s website.

The Marlin Mine project is located in a vast territory in the two municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, populated by Maya mam people and Sipacapa. Both mining projects extend approximately 20 square kilometers. The Marlin Mine brings in high revenues to their shareholders, being Goldcorp’s most cost efficient mine worldwide.

In 2005, as the Marlin Mine was preparing to open, the Sipacapan community organized one of the country’s first referendums on whether to allow mining in their communities and collective territory. The answer was a resounding no from 99% of the population. Yet their decision was ignored. In a context of impunity, no international conventions protected the people from continuing state violations of their rights as indigenous communities.

Ever since, a peaceful resistance against mining activities based out of the local Catholic church has been constant, but perhaps less visible as time has passed. Due to threats and oppressive acts against individuals who denounce violations of human rights related to the situation around the mining project, sometimes involving workers and security personal from the mining company, people are scared of expressing their views. The mining company has also worked non-stop on promoting their local community projects aimed at contributing to social development.

The expectations on the recent judgment are great. ”In practical terms the legal implications of this judgment include that all preparatory mining activities in the area must stop,” said Deny de Leon from Copae. “The next step for the people of Sipacapa is to bring the results from the 2005 referendum, according to ILO Convention 169, to the General Director of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, for him to take into consideration. Thereafter the permit shall be suspended and the territory returned to its proper collective land holder, the local Mayan Sipacapense people.”

Mining permits and resistance

According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines there are currently 107 permits for exploration and exploitation of metallic minerals in the country. A recent study made by The Central American Institute of Fiscal Studies (Icefi) and the non-governmental organization Ibis shows that 78 percent of the Guatemalan municipalities with a high concentration of mining licenses have reported social conflicts.

About 2 million people have manifested their discontent with the ongoing mining politics in 75 local referendums that have been carried out throughout the country since the first that was held in Sipacapa in 2005.The Guatemalan government has not recognized any of them, which implies violation of the international convention, ILO 169, that was ratified by the Guatemalan government in 1996.

The popular rejection is not so much against all types of mining and hydroelectric projects per se as it is against how the projects are approved without consulting the affected communities. Furthermore, the transnational companies do not take into account the interests of the people, the way of living and local culture in the area where they establish mega projects. More importantly, the percentage of profits that the population gets access to is incredibly small.

On the other hand the Guatemalan government has no right to violate both the Municipal Code and ILO Convention 169 as well as the UN declaration on the rights of the indigenous people as they do when granting mining permits without consulting the local indigenous communities. The ultimate consequence is the surrender of control over the land, ground water sources and rivers into the hands of international companies. Altogether it is a severe violation of the indigenous people’s collective right to self-determination within their territories.

Peace accord and trade agreements

When a Peace Accord was signed in 1996 after 36-year civil war, the Guatemalan state committed to respect and strengthen human, political, social and cultural rights. However, most civil society organizations agree this has not come to pass. On the contrary the shortages and weaknesses, such as extremely high levels of impunity within the legal system, have remained. The same accounts for the prevailing exclusionary and unequal social policy model.

The Peace Accord coincided with the economic opening and globalization of the Central American region in the 1990s. And as the journalist Karin Slowing writes in her column in the national newspaper Prensa Libre this July 23rd, this was not aimed at ”creating a more inclusive production matrix but rather privilege the expansion of the capital of the most powerful economic groups in the region.”

Today the communities live the consequences of the economic opening as they witness how more and more of their ancestral territories are reduced as transnational companies enter to buy vast extensions of land for monocultures, and installations of hydroelectric and mining projects and social services are privatized often with high costs to citizens as a result.

Considering this development, Eliu Orozco from the Mayan People’s Council comments on the judgment in favor of the community of Sipacapa: “This judgment is an important success in the process of legal actions taken by local communities articulated through the Mayan People’s Council. Taking legal actions is a strategy to ensure that international conventions, both United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and International Labor Organization Convention 169 are respected in Guatemala.”

The mining company Entre Mares de Guatemala S.A. has not been available for comment.


Related Topics:

Controling Haiti’s Gold

French Grab for Mali’s Gold*

The Gold Behind the New $100 Bill

Illegal Gold-diggers Lead to Moratorium on Permits in Ghana*

Hoarding Gold: Deutsche Bank Takes up Rothschild’s Offer*

Anglo-Americas, AngloGold Leaves the World Gold Council*

Farmers of El Salvador Block Monsanto Seeds*


Over 100 Gaza Civilians Killed When Missing IDF Soldier Died in Battle*

Over 100 Gaza Civilians Killed When Missing IDF Soldier Died in Battle*

When violence becomes your only means of survival, so too does lying to make one feel alright about it all… The false flag that started this latest phase of the Palestinian holocaust (final they hoped), was the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli youth, which carried out by Israelis, not Palestinians. You fear the nightmare you have created will come back and claim you for every minute that you breathe… The only way to continue without losing face is more of the same, and each time, more barbaric than before. Now Israel admits that the missing IDF soldier died in battle after the revenge attack that stopped a temporary ceasefire massacred 100 more Palestinians…

An Israeli soldier feared by the the military to have been abducted by Palestinian gunmen in a firefight that shattered Gaza’s temporary ceasefire has been declared dead.

The announcement ended what could have been a nightmare scenario for Israel, hours after it signalled plans to scale back its operation against Hamas militants.

The military said Second Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, 23, of the Givati infantry brigade, had been killed in battle on Friday. Israel’s defence minister, along with the chief military rabbi, met the soldier’s family at their home in the town of Kfar Saba.

The Israel military offensive on Gaza took more than 100 lives overnight, as the IDF is searching for a missing soldier. Hamas, blamed by Israel for kidnapping the soldier, denies the allegation. Some reports say he may have been killed by friendly fire.

The fresh wave of violence comes after the breakdown of the tentative 72-hour ceasefire agreement on Friday, with both sides trading accusations as to who fired first. According to RT’s Harry Fear, now in Ramallah, it is not clear who was the first to violate the ceasefire.

Of the 107 Palestinians killed in Gaza overnight, 35 died in the town of Rafah as Israel carried out air raids from midnight onward, according to AFP. Dozens were also killed in southern Gaza a few hours after the ceasefire began.

Hamas has been retaliating with mortar fire, Israel says, as IDF troops were searching for its missing soldier, Hadar Goldin, 23, a British passport holder, whom they say has been kidnapped by Hamas. This has led to a clear escalation in hostilities as Israel sticks to its warnings of increasing its presence in the West Bank.

Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livini said Hamas had kidnapped Goldin and promised the group would pay a high price.

Hamas’s military wing, the al-Qassam brigade, said the Israeli soldier may have been killed by Israeli shelling as the IDF targeted Hamas positions in southern Gaza.

“The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades have no information on this soldier. We have lost contact with one of our combatant groups, which was fighting in the sector where the soldier went missing and it is possible that our fighters and this soldier were killed,” they said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama called for the Israeli soldier to be “unconditionally” released, while also insisting that not enough is being done to shield Gaza civilians from danger.

Elsewhere in the West Bank the IDF fired smoke grenades at a Palestinian protest rally. Witnesses say this later turned to gunfire, killing two Palestinians and injuring 70 others. Hamas called for a Day of Rage in south Gaza in response to the fatalities.

Meanwhile, an unnamed Israeli official told Reuters that Israel won’t send envoys to Gaza ceasefire negotiations planned in Egypt on Saturday.

He accused the Palestinian side of misleading international mediators, saying that “Hamas is not interested in an accommodation.”

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on Friday broke down within hours, with Israel and Hamas blaming each other.

A Palestinian delegation, including Hamas representatives, was due to arrive later on Saturday in Cairo for new talks.

Large-scale protests against the Israeli offensive continue around the world. A pro-Palestinian group projected the flag of the Palestinian Authority onto London’s Houses of Parliament. They demanded an end to what they branded as a slaughter of civilians, and for the UK government to impose sanctions on Israel.

Protests continued in some of the world’s major cities over the weekend.

Protective Edge has become Israeli’s bloodiest operation against Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in recent years, with the Palestinian death toll now topping 1,550 – more than the 2008 operation. The IDF has lost more than 60 troops in the conflict.


Related Topics:

Operation Protective Edge: The Dead Have Names*

Deir Yassin, the Beginning of the Palestinian Holocaust. 1948*

Were the Three Settler Kidnappings an Israeli “False Flag” Operation?*

Egypt Blocking Iran Humanitarian Aid to Palestine*

Pentagon Rushes Ammunition to Israel*

God Gave Gaza Life not for Humans to Make Life Worthless*

U.S. Whitewash of Israel Didn’t Curtail 20,000 Protesters March on White House*

U.S. Whitewash of Israel Didn’t Curtail 20,000 Protesters March on White House*

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have marched on the White House in Washington DC to protest against Israel’s ongoing military offensive on Gaza.

Approximately 20,000 people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds gathered outside the building in the U.S. capital to oppose Israel’s bombardment and incursion into the Gaza Strip, in which more than 1,700 civilians have been killed and over 9,000 wounded.

“Free Palestine, let Gaza live,” thousands of people shouted outside the White House on Saturday.

Led by the Washington-based anti-war coalition ANSWER and a broad coalition of Muslim-American organizations including the Council of American-Islamic Relations, American-Muslim Alliance, New York Muslim Legal Fund of America and Islamic Circle of North America, demonstrators came from different cities and states from across the U.S.

Many carried banners declaring:

“Israel has terrorized the region and world since 1948” as well as “Stop genocide in Gaza” and “Free Palestine.”

A Turkish demonstrator named Ali told the Anadolu Agency (AA) that he had come about 150km from Delaware State with his family to voice his feelings over the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza.

Another demonstrator named Thomas, carrying a banner reading: “Free Palestine, let Gaza live”, said: “The diversity in this square shows the great desire for justice and compassion toward the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

Other demonstrators protested against what they said was the unconditional support of the U.S. to Israel with banners reading: “Obama, responsible for massacre” and “Stop all U.S. aid to Israel.”

Wearing a Palestinian flag, a 36-year-old American-Palestinian demonstrator named May, said: “We are here to call for the administration to stop its support for Israel and to stop the Israeli occupation of Palestine.”

Describing as “barbaric” the approval by the U.S. Congress on Friday of $225 million of financial support to Israel, she said that Obama should halt the flow of fund.

The protesters marched to the building of the American daily newspaper The Washington Post to protest against what they said was a pro-Israeli editorial policy.

The executive director of Council of American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad, told the AA:

“We protest the editorial vision of the Washington Post, which continues to promote Israeli occupation and apartheid policies that are the root of the conflict.”

At the gate of the newspaper’s headquarters, which was guarded by U.S. police, the demonstrators protested against the daily shouting: “Shame on you!”

Passing by the construction vehicles’ producer, Caterpillar Corporation, the demonstrators protested against the corporation for providing the Israeli state with tools and equipment for demolishing Palestinian homes and building Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

A group of orthodox Jews were among the demonstrators, carrying banners declaring: “Judaism rejects the Zionist Israeli State and its atrocities.”

Jewish demonstrator rabbi David Fieldman said: “The Israeli state has been perpetrating genocide against the Palestinians which Judaism would never accept.”

Another group of demonstrators burned an Israeli flag nearby. The demonstration ended peacefully.


Related Topics:

Bolivia Revokes Visa Agreement with Israel*

David Attenborough on Israel and Palestinians

From Gaza: I’m a Human Being, Not a Human Shield*

Jordanian Aid Convoy Arrives in Gaza*

World’s Leading Medical Journal Sends an Open Letter to Gaza*

Irish Shops Urged to Remove Produce from Israel*

U.K.’s Largest Supermarket Chain Tesco to Boycott West Bank Products*

US Congress: Bill to Outlaw Muslim Brotherhood*

Celebrities and Activists Remember Gaza’s Dead*

Egypt Blocking Egyptian Humanitarian Aid to Gaza*

Pentagon Rushes Ammunition to Israel*

Demonstrators Take to the Streets against the Massacres in GazaU.

Israeli Barbarism: 6 Things You Can Stop Buying*