Guatemala: US Member Of Congress Letter To Guatemalan President Colom Calling For Suspension Of Goldcorp's "Marlin" Mine In Guatemala

 

CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES

Washington Dc, 20515

 

March 30, 2011

 

President of Guatemala

Alvaro Colom Caballeros

Casa Presidencial, 6 Av "A", 4-18, Zona 1

Guatemala, Guatemala

 

Dear Mr. President,

 

We are extremely concerned about the human rights impact of the establishment of large-scale industrial gold-mining operations in Guatemala. In particular, we have serious concerns about the Marlin gold mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacan, operated by the Canadian company Goldcorp.

 

We urge you to immediately suspend operations at the Marlin mine and address the ongoing human rights, health and environmental concerns of the indigenous communities.

 

As you are aware, 18 Mayan communities indigenous to the western highlands have filed petitions citing serious human rights, health and environmental concerns relating to the Marlin mine. Local indigenous communities allege that it has contaminated local water sources used for consumption and irrigation, and that toxic pollutants from the mine have caused serious health problems among community members.

 

In May 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a precautionary measure, calling on your government to suspend operations at the mine until the human rights concerns of those communities had been addressed. It is our understanding that, despite the Guatemalan government's June 2010 announcement that operations at the Marlin mine would be suspended, this cessation was never implemented.

 

In addition to the IACHR ruling, the International Labor Organization (ILO) also expressed concern about the mine. Independent studies by the University of Michigan and E-Tech international have likewise cited serious concerns relating too the public health and environmental impacts of the project.

 

Further, the mine has been the focal point of violence and conflict since construction began in 2004. In 2005, one person was killed and a dozen were injured in protests against the project. In July 2010, mining opponent Diodora Hernandez was shot in the head by unknown assailants. Large scale natural resource extraction projects, like the Marlin mine, have the potential to foster community conflicts and regional destabilization.

 

We strongly urge you to fully implement the May 2010 IACHR ruling and your government's subsequent decision to halt operations at the Marlin mine. As supporters of fundamental human and worker rights, we ask you to ensure that the human rights, health and environmental concerns expressed by the 18 indigenous communities are fully addressed. Finally, we hope you will work with other governments, corporations and civil society throughout the region to end unsustainable and irresponsible natural resource extraction and to promote economic activities that will more effectively reduce poverty and promote economic development.

 

Thank-you for your attention and consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jan Schakowsky, James P. Moran, Sam Farr, Lynn Woolsey, James P. McGovern, Pete Stark, Donald Payne, Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., Barney Frank, John W. Olver, Hank Johnson, Michael Michaud, Grace F. Napolitano, Maurice Hinchey, David Wu

 

Source: Rights Action External link




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