Rights Action reproduces letters sent by folk at the University of Northern British Columbia about the death of an infant and the beating of on innocent woman near the Marlin Mine in Guatemala earlier this year. Here is part of a letter from Catherine Nolan, a professor at the university:
Our understanding from news sent by our colleagues in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala City, and other communities near the mine site, is that people from communities harmed and damaged, since 2004, by Goldcorp’s mine, gathered yesterday, peacefully, in a Permanent Assembly coordinated by FREDEMI (San Miguel Ixtahuacán Defense Front), trying to draw critical attention to the fact that the government of Guatemala had not complied with a May 2010 order from the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights to suspend Goldcorp’s mining operation. Two peaceful protesters were badly beaten and a bus load of others were threatened, attacked and illegally detained yesterday.
A PhD student at the university writes a letter that includes these statements:
I denounce the human rights violations and abuses committed against the peaceful protesters detained in San José Ixcaniche, Guatemala. As a PhD student at the University of Northern British Colombia (UNBC), Canada, I have had the opportunity to visit Goldcorp’s Marlin mine on two occasions (May 2008 and May 2010). During the two UNBC delegations, I met and spoke with several community members in the communities of Sipakapa, and the heavily impacted San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala, about the conditions in which they now live involving constant threats to their safety, wellbeing, rights, and environment. These community members have a right to gather and to express their perspectives regarding Goldcorp’s Marlin mine without being confronted, threatened, beaten, and detained. I am gravely concerned for the safety, welfare, and lives of Miguel Angel Bámaca, Aniseto López, and all other protesters detained this evening.
These are profound statements of concern. Unfortunately they ignore the facts of what happened, and we must wonder at the concept of academic independence and the search for the truth that as taxpayers we all fund.
Here is the link to a statement by Goldcorp on this nasty event. In addition this link provides a translation of an admission of guilt signed by the protestors, held out as innocent by those at the University of Northern British Columbia.
The Goldcorp statement notes:
It is important to highlight a few key facts from this document [that is the admission of guilt by the protestors]:
- The local Indigenous Mayan communities resolved this matter between themselves and the protestors;
- The communities suffered from the actions of the protestors and demanded reparations;
- The communities emphasize the importance of dialogue, as does Goldcorp and Montana Exploradora;
- Leaders of the protestors, specifically Aniceto Lopez of FREDEMI, recognize the negative impact of their actions, the misinformation that has been broadcasted by the radio station, and the death of the baby resulting from their blockade;
- The leader of FREDEMI agreed to pay compensation to the community members who were injured, including to the family whose baby died, and to stop broadcasting misinformation that leads to conflict.
If you understand Spanish better than I do, you can read the full text of the admission. Here, in my mind is the final statement:
…..also it is added that the problems were initiated because of the death of a female baby of six months.
It takes no great intellect to realize that the death of the baby upset the protest. It was not the actions of miners that upset the protest. Or led to harassment of “innocent” protestors. We do not need great imagination to recognize that the protestors, including Aniseto Lopez, probably panicked when a baby died due to their refusal to allow a mother and her sick daughter to proceed to a doctor. And then ensued a bus high-jacking, the beating of an old woman, and the intervention of wiser community leaders.
We have sought to discern the truth of what happened in this event. We are not aided by the inflammatory and biased statements put out by Canadian academics who are ultimately paid to seek the truth by the taxpayer. Dare we wonder if they are abusing a position of trust given them by the BC public?
We thank other honest members of the public who have sought out these facts and links. They do us all a service in the search for the facts of an ugly incident, exploited by the biased who seek only their own agenda. Now let us hope the academics come clean and tell us what they know. We have promised to reproduce, without edit, whatever they say.
And to those who are likely to accuse me of supporting the mining industry, let me say only this. I do not like untruth, propoganda, lies, and distortion. I grew up in South Africa where everybody indulged in those things in what they believed was their best interests and the best interests of their tribe. It did nobody any good, and it is not doing anybody any good now. I have seen politicians, mining companies, activists on the left and right, all of them distorting facts to their supposed benefit. It is terrible to behold; it is sad to see; and it must be dealt with by somebody lest evil prevail.
PS. Here are two comments posted elsewhere, but which are relevant to this posting:
March 16, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Reply Dina Aloi
On Monday, February 28, 2010, a group of approximately 200 individuals reportedly led by Aniseto López of FREDEMI, ADISMI, and other opponents of the Marlin Mine blocked three public roads that provide access to the communities of Siete Platos and San Antonio as well as the Marlin Mine. The protestors, who were not members of the local communities, indicated that their purpose was to protest the Government of Guatemala’s failure to suspend operations of the Marlin Mine. As of this morning, the blockades are no longer in place and the public roads are fully accessible.
In a blog posting dated February 28, 2011, representatives of La Red de Solidaridad con el Pueblo de Guatemala, Collectif Guatemala, Breaking the Silence, and Rights Action asserted that the human rights of the protest leaders were being violated by their being detained. As explained in this message, this information is incorrect and the prompt posting of the blog strongly suggests that the actions in Guatemala and by these organizations were planned with the intent of generating conflict in the local communities. Goldcorp and Montana Exploradora reiterate their commitment to engage transparently and peacefully with all interested parties and respect the rights of all to voice their opinions peacefully.
How did the situation develop?
On Monday, February 28, 2011, a group of approximately 200 individuals reportedly led by Aniseto López of FREDEMI, and other opponents of the Marlin Mine blocked three public roads that provide access to the communities of Siete Platos and San Antonio as well as the Marlin Mine.
What did Marlin and Montana Exploradora do?
First, Montana Exploradora ensured that its local employees were able to return to their homes without risk to their safety. Second, Montana Exploradora made contact with the leaders of the local communities where the road blocks were established, the Municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa, the Human Rights Ombudsman office (PDH), and the Presidential Human Rights Commission (COPREDEH). Based on the information available, Montana Exploradora’s management decided to reduce employee transportation and limit operations at the Marlin Mine until the situation was resolved. At this time, the Marlin Mine is operating normally.
Did Marlin or Montana Exploradora contact the Police or Military?
Did Marlin or Montana Exploradora contact the protestors or intervene at the roadblocks?
No. The company did not engage with the protestors so as to avoid confrontation and provocation. The protestors at no time asked to communicate with the company.
How did the situation get resolved?
The first roadblock was lifted due to action taken by the community of Siete Platos. Members of this community objected to the restriction on their free passage on public roads and asked the protestors, who were not members of the local community, to leave their community. The second and larger roadblock in the community of San Antonio reportedly was lifted after tense discussions between local community leaders and the protestors, but without any violence.
Was anyone detained or injured?
Yes, in the community of San Antonio, Aniseto López and a group of protesters took by force a bus operated by a contractor that is used by the Marlin Mine and threatened the driver that if he did not take them to San José Ixcaniche they would burn the bus. When the bus arrived at San José Ixcaniche, the bus was stopped by the local community leaders. Upon exiting the bus, one of the protesters hit a woman and a physical confrontation ensued. The injured woman was treated at the Marlin Mine clinic. The local community leaders were able to control the situation and forced the protesters to leave the community. The local community leaders detained Aniseto López until he signed a document (an acta) in which he committed not to enter the community in the future and also to not cause further conflict in the area. Once the acta was signed, Sr. López was released.
In addition, Montana Exploradora understands that on February 28, the protestors prohibited a family with a seriously ill baby to pass the roadblock for medical assistance. The company understands that the baby died. It appears that Aniseto López, of FREDEMI, has paid Q4,000 ($USD500) to the family due to the death.
Goldcorp and Montana Exploradora have been and continue to be committed to open and transparent discussions with all members of the community. We respect the right of all interested parties to voice their opinions respectfully and engage in peaceful protest. The company has never taken action to impede such activity. Goldcorp is committed to continually improving how it operates and interacts with communities. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.goldcorp.com/corporate_responsibility/.
March 16, 2011 at 6:05 pm | Reply Dina Aloi
To supplement the previous Stakeholder Update, a scanned copy and an English translation of the legal document or “Acta” adopted in San Jose Ixcaniche with respect to the road block that occurred on Monday, February 28, 2011, are available on our website. It is important to highlight a few key facts from this document:
• The local Indigenous Mayan communities resolved this matter between themselves and the protestors;
• The communities suffered from the actions of the protestors and demanded reparations;
• The communities emphasize the importance of dialogue, as does Goldcorp and Montana Exploradora;
• Leaders of the protestors, specifically Aniceto Lopez of FREDEMI, recognize the negative impact of their actions, the misinformation that has been broadcasted by the radio station, and the death of the baby resulting from their blockade;
• The leader of FREDEMI agreed to pay compensation to the community members who were injured, including to the family whose baby died, and to stop broadcasting misinformation that leads to conflict.
As always, Goldcorp and Montana Exploradora will continue to work with the local communities around the Marlin Mine with respect to promoting human rights and the freedom of peaceful demonstration.