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16 November 2012 | Special reports | Victims of climate change | International Tour in Solidarity with communities affected by mining megaprojects in Central America | Social activists at risk | Resisting neoliberalism
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The second day of the International Solidarity Mission began with a visit to political prisoners who were arbitrarily arrested for resisting the building of a hydroelectric dam in Santa Cruz Barillas, San Marcos department, Guatemala. The day ended with the happy news that two of the prisoners had been released.
The members of the mission held a press conference in the afternoon at a hotel in Guatemala City. Leaders of the Coordination of Peasant Unity (CUC-Via Campesina) as well as two political prisoners that had been released attended the press conference. The prisoners were rural school teachers Esteban Bernabé and Pascual de Pascual Pedro, who were released in the afternoon and attended the press conference with CUC colleagues. Members of Friends of the Earth Spain, Croatia, Colombia and the Transnational Institute provided their first impressions of the two days of the mission in Mayan land.
The chair of Friends of the Earth International, Jagoda Munic, said “We have visited political prisoners who have been six to seven months in prison accused of being terrorists. They are not terrorists, they are the people who have decided to fight for their lands”.
“After talking with the communities affected there is a feeling of sadness and anger because of the situation they are going through”. She also expressed international solidarity with the fight of the communities affected in Guatemala and the defense of human rights, as well as the responsibility of Friends of the Earth of supporting the resisting communities. The reality of the communities visited during the mission shows the false development promoted by developed countries.
Lastly, Munic rejected the arbitrary detentions of the leaders of the resistance and said the international community will be waiting for the results of the hearing of November 26 to the detainees of Barillas.
Meanwhile, Victor Barrio, chair of Friends of the Earth Spain, said the “corporations that claim to be Spanish, such as Hidralia, Telefónica, Unión Fenosa or Aguas de Barcelona have invested in Latin America, they have created socio-environmental conflicts and caused human rights violations. These actions secure that the European way of life continues to exist, even though it is now in crisis and it is affecting the people of both regions, a proof of that is the general strike held in Europe” on Wednesday 14 November. After verifying how Spanish corporations operate in Guatemala, Barrio said he will file an action in Spain and will demand the follow-up by the Spanish embassy in Guatemala. He also told the message of political prisoners: “the company should leave our families alone and it should leave our territories”.
Meanwhile, the member of CENSAT-FoE Colombia, Danilo Urrea said the mission has confirmed what Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean already claimed that “we are going through a structural crisis of the extractivist model caused by the breaking of the relation between the society and nature, which is expressed in the territorialization of capital, the financialization of nature, which consequence is pillage and human rights violations”.
Urrea said “A critical example of the criminalization of the protests through laws and the militarization of territories in the continent is the case of Colombia, where the disappearance of leaders and the detachment have become the strategies of corporations to dismantle the fight and take over land”. He concluded saying “I share the message of the affected communities: we demand transnational corporations to leave our territories and the release of the political prisoners”.
The member of the Transnational Institute, Lyda Forero said what the mission witnessed are a reminder of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal created to try the actions of European transnational corporations in Latin America. The Tribunal sessioned in 2006 and 2010. It tried three companies in Guatemala: Holcim, Unión Fenosa and GoldCorp.
“Today, two years later we verified the human rights violations exposed before the Tribunal continue and are even worse”, said Lyda. “We also verified the economic and ecological crimes committed by TNCs are systemic and systematic worldwide. This is seen in the cases of Marlin mine and Barillas in Guatemala”.
“They have also developed an architecture of impunity that enables TNCs to act with the governments’ complicity, through the adoption of legislation in favor of corporations above the community rights and by signing FTAs and BITs that offer impunity to transnational corporations”.
Lastly, she called the European Parliament to reject the Partnership Agreement with Central America to be voted on December 11 and 13 because it would support a government that commits human rights violations and fosters impunity”.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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