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2 October 2009 | | | |

Evict to Protect?

In Guatemala, some "conservation" projects are an excuse to evict communities

2:50 minutes
Download: MP3 (1.9 Mb)

In this Special Report, we will look at some of the conclusions of the International Verification Mission on the effects of mining in Guatemala, and the recommendations which resulted from the international work which took place in several areas of the country.

While big mining extractive projects in Guatemala are the main responsible for the displacement and eviction of peasants and indigenous communities, it is certain that some conservation projects, "reservations" or "protected areas" are serving the interests of a goal of looting.

This is what Luis Guribe, Director of the Institute of International Cooperation and Development Studies (Hegoa) from the Basque Country, and Karin Nansen, fron Friends of the Earth International said at a press conference when the mission came to an end.

The "International Verification Mission on the Violation of Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples" was made up by delegates of Friends of the Earth, Amnesty International, CESTA-Friends of the Earth El Salvador, COECOCEIBA-Friends of the Earth Costa Rica, and Hegoa from the Basque Country.

From September 20th to September 25th, the Mission met with hundreds of peoples from Colotenango, El Estor, Sipacapa, San Miguel Ixtahuacan, Livingston and San Juan Sacatepequez. They were invited by the Indigenous and Peasant Peoples´ Coordination.

The mission concluded the State actions respond to the interests of mining corporations, and to the detriment of the communities. If after suffering abuses, the victims denounce the events to different authorities, they are faced with the bias of the State, who acts rapidly and diligently when extractive companies denounce members of the communities.

According to the mission, the denunciation of murder, rape and threats to impoverished communities are forgotten, when not punished.

Several rights of the communities are not respected: access to water, -water sources are systematically polluted by mining companies or declared private property; access to health and traditional territories. But the impunity of the companies makes it possible for sexual abuses and rapes to take place to intimidate and accelerate displacements.


The Mission will write a report and submit specific cases to authorities and an Ombudsman. They also made a series of recommendations.

They request a halt to evictions in cases of conflict over labor rights or land property disputes, and to comply with ILO 169 Convention in terms of the participation of indigenous peoples in all decision-making processes, planning, implementation and assessment of any activity which affects their rights and interests.

Foto: http://flickr.com/photos/danielaph/

(CC) 2009 Real World Radio

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  • Mining or Looting?
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  • Private Arrogance, Public Looting
    Interview to Luis Guribe, Director of the Institute of Development and International Cooperation Studies (Hegoa) from the Basque Country
  • All for One
    Mission demands release of Guatemalan Mayan activist Ramiro Choc


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