Demands for an investigation and an end to company interference in Guatemala following assassination attempt and threats against members of the peaceful resistance to the Canadian-owned Escobal mine


 

21 January 2021

To whom it may concern,

The below-signed organizations denounce the assassination attempt against Mr. Julio David González Arango, member of the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa, and Jutiapa to Pan American Silver’s Escobal mine. On the morning of Saturday, January 16, 2021, unknown men shot Mr. González at his home in the municipality of Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, where he also runs a small shop. He was immediately rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

The following day, Mr. Juan Eduardo Donis and Mr. Pablo Adolfo Valenzuela Lima, two other members of the peaceful resistance to the mine who are also from Mataquescuintla, received text messages threatening their lives. The threats included an explicit reference to the attack on Mr. González and indicated that Mr. Donis and Mr. Valenzuela would be next.

This attack on Mr. González and the grave threats against Mr. Donis and Mr. Valenzuela are the culmination of an increasingly tense and dangerous context for members of the peaceful resistance and the Xinka Parliament of Guatemala. Mr. González has long been the target of threats and intense defamation campaigns by people who support the Escobal mine. Yet, in early December, as a result of the intensification of aggressions, Mr. González filed a complaint with the Human Rights Defenders Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s office. Following this complaint, direct threats also increased against Mr. Donis and Mr. Valenzuela, as well as against Edwin Alexander Reynoso Bran and Quelvin Otoniel Jiménez Villalta, lawyer for the Xinka Parliament.

It is important to note that Mr. Reynoso already suffered two assassination attempts in 2014 and 2015. During the first attack, Topacio Reynoso Pacheco, Mr. Reynoso’s daughter and a 16-year-old human rights defender, was assassinated. Mr. Reynoso is one of 59 representatives elected to participate in the court-ordered consultation with the Xinka people on the Escobal mine. Attorney Quelvin Jiménez has also suffered threats since the Constitutional Court decision that ordered said consultation. Due to these threats, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted him precautionary measures in July 2019.

Since September 2020, the Xinka Parliament has denounced the emergence of a group that describes itself as the “Reorganized Resistance of Casillas,” which is working against the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa, and Jutiapa. This group, led by a former security guard for the Escobal mine, is attempting to undermine Xinka leadership and generate community division and an environment of insecurity. Members of the resistance believe the group is working in coordination with Pan American Silver. Representatives from the mining company and the Ministry of Energy and Mines have participated in meetings with this group.

Additionally, over the last few months, the Xinka Parliament has denounced Pan American Silver’s activities, which include unnecessary truck arrivals at the mine and continued community projects. These activities foment tension and social division given that all operations should be suspended. The Parliament has also denounced the company’s community outreach programs as coercion and in violation of the “free” nature of the consultation.

The Escobal mine has been suspended since June 2017, first due to two peaceful encampments to block mine traffic in the municipalities of Mataquescuintla and Casillas. The resistance movement continues to maintain these around-the-clock peaceful encampments today. A Supreme Court decision issued in July 2017 legally suspended mining operations. The order was ratified by the Constitutional Court on September 3, 2018. The Court ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines to carry out a consultation with the Xinka people whose rights have been violated by the mining project, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. In its decision, the Constitutional Court “has been emphatic in affirming that a situation marked by confrontation, violence, and mistrust does not help to make the consultation truly productive.”

In response to the attempt on the life of Mr. González, the threats against other community leaders, and the increase in tension in the area:

  •     We join in solidarity with the demands of the Xinka Parliament of Guatemala and call for a full and impartial investigation by the National Civil Police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office into the assassination attempt against Mr. Gonzalez.
  •     We demand a full and impartial investigation by the National Civil Police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office into the January 17 threats against Mr. Donis, Mr. Valenzuela, and the serious threats against Mr. Reynoso and Mr. Jiménez.
  •     We urge the Human Rights Ombudsman to take all necessary measures to guarantee the human rights of Julio David González Arango, his family, the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa and the Xinka Parliament of Guatemala. As requested by Mr. Gonzalez and his family, it is urgent to implement security measures to guarantee his safety.
  •     We urge the corresponding authorities to ensure respect for the Constitutional Court resolution #4785-2017, such that the free and good-faith character of the consultation process is guaranteed, including before, during, and after the pre-consultation and consultation of the Xinka People.
  •     We demand that Pan American Silver uphold the order of the Constitutional Court and halt its community relations work, which are undeniably part of mine operations and contribute to increased tensions in the region and the insecurity of its residents.
  •     We call on the national and international community to pay special attention to the risks being faced by Xinka communities and members of the resistance in Santa Rosa, Jalapa, and Jutiapa, who are peacefully protesting in defense of life.

 

Signed,

 

Latin America

ACAFREMIN – Alianza Centro Americana Frente a la Mineria, Regional
Acción Colectiva Socioambiental, A.C., Mexico
ActionAid Guatemala
Asamblea Ciudadana contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad -ACCI-, Guatemala
Asamblea Departamental de los Pueblos de Huehuetenango -ADH-, Guatemala
Asociación Bufete Jurídico Popular, Guatemala
Asociación CEIBA, Guatemala
Asociación Colectivo Madreselva, Guatemala
Asociación de Comunidades para el Desarrollo y la Defensa de la Tierra y los Recursos Naturales -ACODET-, Guatemala
Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente, Brazil
Asociación para el Desarrollo Integral de las Victimas de la Violencia en las Verapaces, Maya Achi. -ADIVIMA.-, Guatemala
Asociación por la Protección de la Tierra y el Bienestar de Epazoyucan A.C -APTyBE-, Mexico
Asociación Q’anil, Guatemala
Asociación Rincón Juvenil -ARJ-, Guatemala
Asociadas por lo Justo -JASS- Mesoamérica , Regional
Bios Iguana A. C., Mexico
Catemu en Movimiento, Chile
Comité Campesino del Altiplano -CCDA-, Guatemala
CEFOP IXIM ULEU, Guatemala
Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos -CALDH-, Guatemala
Consejo Maya K’iche’ Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Colectivo Miradas en Resistencia, Guatemala
Colectivo Poder Constituyente, Guatemala
Colectivo por la Vida, Guatemala
Colectivo Voces Ecológicas COVEC, Panama
Comité de Unidad Campesina de Guatemala
Comité Diálogo Ambiental, Puerto Rico
Comunidad Ecuménica Martin Luther King, Chile
Consejo Ecuménico Cristiano de Guatemala
Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras -COPINH
Consejo del Pueblo Maya -CPO-, Guatemala
Consejo Wuxhtaj, Guatemala
Coordinadora de Territorios por la Defensa de los Glaciares, Chile
Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares del Aguan -COPA-, Honduras
Corporación Cultural Aclowncagua, Chile
DECOIN, Ecuador
ECOVIDA, Peru
Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosocial -ECAP-, Guatemala
Federación por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas -FAPI-, Paraguay
ForumCiv, Colombia
Frente Nacional por la Salud de los Pueblos del Ecuador -FNSPE
Frente Popular, Guatemala
Frente Popular en Defensa del Soconusco, Mexico
FSAR, Hondruas
Fundación Promoción Humana, Argentina
Fundación Savia Roja, Ecuador
GeoComunes, Mexico
Gobierno Ancestral Plurinacional, Guatemala
Grupo belga ‘Solidair met Guatemala
Grupo de Pesquisa e Extensão Política, Economia, Mineração, Ambiente e Sociedade -PoEMAS-, Brazil
Hijos e Hijas por la Identidad y la Justicia con el Olvido y el Silencio -Hijxs-, Guatemala
Mesa Social Quillota, Chile
Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração- MAM,  Brazil
Movimiento Cultural Aconcagua, Chile
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo extractivo Minero -M4-, Regional
Movimiento Morelense contra las Concesiones de Minería a Tajo Abierto por Metales, Mexico
Movimiento Nacional de salud Laicrimpo, Argentina
Observatorio de Industrias Extractivas, Guatemala
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales -OLCA-, Chile
Observatorio Social de Mato Grosso, Brazil
Organización Animalistas San Bernardo, Chile
Organización de Mujeres Tierra Viva, Guatemala
Otra Guatemala Ya, Guatemala
Otros Mundos AC/Chiapas, Mexico
Oxfam en Guatemala
Parroquia San Juan Bautista, Guatemala
Pastoral de la Tierra, Pastoral Social Diócesis de San Marcos, Guatemala
Pastoral Social Regional Suroriente Colombiano, Colombia
Plan Nacional de Contingencia contra la Pandemia y el Hambre -PNCPH-, Guatemala
Plataforma Agraria, Honduras
Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos, Mexico
Programa de voluntariado internacional en Intag, Ecuador
Protección Internacional Mesoamérica, Regional
RAIS IXCÁN, Guatemala
Red Continental Cristiana por la Paz, Guatemala
Red de Género y Medio Ambiente, Mexico
Red de Integración Orgánica, Guatemala
Red Europeo de Comités Oscar Romero, Guatemala
Red Latinoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Sociales y Ambientales, Regional
Red Mexicana de Afectadas/os por la Minería -REMA-, Mexico
Red Multicultural de Mujeres Trans de Guatemala
Red por la Paz y el Desarrollo de Guatemala -RPDG
Red Regional Agua, Desarrollo y Democracia – Piura, Peru
Resistencia Pacífica La Puya, Guatemala

North America

Amandla Radio – CKUT, Canada
Atlantic Council for International Cooperation, Canada
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network, Canada
B.C. Government and Service Employees Union, Canada
Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, Canada
Blue Planet Project, Canada
Camp Migizi, United States
Canadian Foreign Policy Institute
Canadian Mining Awareness
Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability -CNCA
Canadian Union of Public Employees -CUPE
Caron consulting Inc., Canada
Casa Maria, United States
Center for Human Rights and Environment, United States and Argentina
Center for International Environmental Law -CIEL-, United States
Centre International de Solidarité Ouvrière -CISO-, Canada
Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente -CEDHA-, United States
Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman Lawyers, Canada
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America -CRLN-, United States
Coalition for Another World – Denver, United States
Comité por los derechos humanos en América Latina -CDHAL-, Canada
Common Frontiers, Canada
Denver Freedom Skool, United States
Denver Justice and Peace Committee -DJPC-, United States
Drumroaster Coffee, Canada
E-Tech International, United States
EarthRights International, United States
Eco-Justice Working Group, United Church of Canada, Maritimes Region, Canada
Education in Action, Canada
Environmental Defender Law Center, United States
Earthworks, United States
FL International Solidarity Collective, United States
Global Labor Justice – International Labor Rights Forum -GLJ-ILRF-, United States
Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, United States
Guatemala Human Rights Commission, United States
Guatemala Partnership Committee, Congregational Church of Needham, United States
Hesperian Health Guides, United States
Honor the Earth, United States
Human Rights Defenders Project, United States
Human Rights Implementation Centre -HRIC-, United States
Indigenous Environmental Network, United States
Institute for Human- Animal Connection, United States
Institute for Policy Studies – Global Economy Program, United States
Inter American Association for Environmental Defense -AIDA-, Colombia and United States
International Mayan League, United States
InterReligious Task Force on Central America, United States
JB Foundation, United States
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Office of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, Canada
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Canada
Latin America Working Group -LAWG-, United States
Latin American Canadian Solidarity Association, Canada
Latin American Solidarity Network -LACSN-, United States
Maquila Solidarity Network
Maritimes- Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, Canada
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, Canada
Mining Justice Action Committee, Canada
Mining Justice Alliance, Canada
MiningWatch Canada
Montreal Elders for Environmental Justice, Canada
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala -NISGUA-, United States
New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project, United States
Northfield Against Line 3, United States
Oberlin Students in Solidarity with Guatemala, United States
Older Women Live CKUT 90.3 FM -OWL-, Canada
People’s Health Movement – Anti-Extractive Industry Group, Canada
Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala -PAQG-, Canada
Public Service Alliance of Canada, Canada
Public Service Alliance of Canada, BC Region, Canada
Quixote Center, United States
RightOnCanada
Rights Action, Canada
Scholar-Activist Working Group, United States
School of the Americas Watch, United States
Solidarity Kjipuktuk Halifax, Canada
Students for Mining Justice, University of British Columbia, Canada
The United Church of Canada
Todos por Guatemala/All for Guatemala, Canada
UNBC Guatemala Research Group, Canada
Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Canada
United for Mining Justice, Canada
United Steelworkers, Canada
US El Salvador Sister Cities, United States
West Kootenay Central American Support Group, Canada
Xat’sull (Soda Creek) Indigenous community, Canada
United for Mining Justice, CanadaEco-Justice Working Group, United Church of Canada, Maritimes Region, Canada

Europe

Asociación de Investigación y Especialización sobre Temas Iberoamericanos -AIETI-, Spain
EJAtlas Research Group, Spain
Environmental Justice Foundation, United Kingdom
Forest Peoples Programme, United Kingdom and Netherlands
Germanor Obrera d’Acció Catòlica de Barcelona – Sant Feliu, Spain
GOAC, Spain
Igapo Project, France
KM207 Gutemala Suiz, Switzerland
London Mining Network, United Kingdom
Overstory Alliance, United States
Perifèries del Món, Spain
Salva la Selva, Spain
SweFOR Guatemala, Sweden
The Gaia Foundation, United Kingdom

Asia

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact -AIPP-, Asia
International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Malaysia
National Fisheries Solidarity, Sri Lanka
The Future We Need, India

Australia

Rainforest Action Group, Australia

International

Global Witness, International
People’s Health Movement
World BEYOND War, International