Just over a year ago, we asked for your help to protect the wellbeing of communities in San Rafael Las Flores, Guatemala, by contacting the Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) to halt the licensing of a silver mining project owned by the Canadian company Tahoe Resources (40% owned by Goldcorp). Today, we ask for your help again.
Under its international human rights obligations, Guatemala must consult populations that could be affected by a mining project, and further requires the consent of affected indigenous peoples. Not only were communities near the Tahoe project not consulted – including a community of indigenous Xinka peoples – but public referenda have shown that neighboring communities are opposed to the development of the mine. Seventeen local development councils and community mayors sent a letter to MEM last December requesting the refusal of the extraction license. Many of those living close to the mine worry that its operations could pollute the water upon which their livelihoods depend. Currently, there are over 200 pending complaints against the project, each of which, according to Guatemalan law, must be resolved by MEM before granting a license.
The communities of San Rafael remain as committed as ever in their non-violent opposition to the mine, though they have become the target of increasing intimidation and criminalization. Their organizing occurs in a context of escalating violence and insecurity. On January 11th, 2013, violence once again erupted in the area near the Tahoe mine site resulting in the death of three people, including two members of the company’s private security group. There is an ongoing investigation into these events to identify the responsible parties and motive.
As part of its response to the violence, Tahoe Resources publicly reiterated its confidence that the license will be granted, stating “[t]he Guatemalan President and the [MEM] have reassured us that the license is forthcoming.”
Ask MEM to refuse to issue the extraction license to Tahoe Resources. Please consider sending a letter like the model below to Guatemalan officials. (If you would like to send the message in Spanish, a translation of the letter text is below.)
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