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Posted: 14 June 2012

A Guatemalan anti-mining activist was shot on 13 June in the town of San José del Golfo, in the department of Guatemala. Other local mining activists may also be at risk.

On 13 June, at around 6.30pm, Yolanda Oquelí was driving home after taking part in a protest outside a mine site in San José del Golfo, in the department of Guatemala, about 35km from the centre of the capital, Guatemala City. As she approached her house, two men on a motorbike cut across her path and fired at her with a pistol. Yolanda Oquelí was hit by a bullet which lodged close to her liver. Three other bullets hit her vehicle. According to local press/radio/TV, a .38 pistol was used in the attack. Yolanda Oquelí is in hospital in a serious but stable condition.

Yolanda Oquelí is an activist and leader of the organization Northern Front of the Metropolitan Area (Frente Norte del Área Metropolitana, FRENAM) which has been protesting against the negative effects of a mining project in her community. The mine site is known as El Tambor and covers parts of the municipalities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampic. A protest has been maintained outside the entrance to the mine since March 2012. Those opposing the mine claim that it will pollute the water supply, and that local communities were not consulted about its potential impact.

The mine is operated by Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala, S.A. (EXMIGUA), a local wholly-owned subsidiary of the Canadian company Radius Gold Inc.

As a result of her work as a human rights defender, since August 2011 Yolanda Oquelí has filed several complaints with the Public Prosecutor’s office about threats and harassment against her and other activists, including threatening phone calls, her house being vandalised with paint, and death threats. The most recent complaint was filed on 11 May. An Amnesty International delegation met with Yolanda Oquelí in May 2012.

Please send a letter to the president.

  • Start with Dear President.
  • Describe who you are and what concerns you about the violent incident that targeted Yolanda Oquelí.
  • Ask him to provide appropriate protection to Yolanda Oquelí and her family, and to activists working against human rights violations caused by mining operations in the area of San José del Golfo.

Address your message to

Otto Pérez Molina
Presidente de la República
Casa Presidencial
6ª Avenida 4-41, Zona 1
Puera del Centro
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Postage: $1.80

Please send a copy to

His Excellency Georges de la Roche Plihal
Ambassador for the Republic of Guatemala
130 Albert Street, Suite 1010
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4

Postage: $.61
Fax:   (613) 233-0135
Email:  consular@embaguate-canada.com


Human rights defenders working on economic, social and cultural rights in Guatemala are often targeted because of their work to protect human rights. Those activists focusing on extractive industries, such as mining, have been subjected to physical attacks and harassment, as documented by Amnesty International.

In December 2011, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action on behalf of the communities in the Santa Rosa department, southern Guatemala, threatened by a mining project. Local communities have not been consulted about the plans.  (See UA 352/11, AMR 34/016/2011).

In February 2011, protesters against the Marlin mine in north-western Guatemala were attacked.  One protester, Aniceto López, was taken to the office of the local mayor, where he has said he was beaten and threatened with death for speaking out against the mine. (See UA 57/11, AMR 34/002/2011).

In July 2010, Deodora Hernández, a grassroots activist who had been protesting against the allegedly negative effects of mining in San Marcos department, in north-western Guatemala, was shot at close range in her own home by two unknown men. She had spoken out to defend her community’s right to water amidst fears that mining operations have affected the local water supply. (See UA 163/10 Index: AMR 34/008/2010).

The Guatemalan authorities’ failure to ensure meaningful consultation of local communities prior to the granting of mineral exploration or exploitation licences has been noted in recent years. The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous Peoples noted after a visit to Guatemala in June 2010 that he had received allegations that on many occasions the Guatemalan government had granted licences for the exploitation of natural resources in Indigenous territories without the necessary consultations with local Indigenous Peoples.

Impact assessments should seek to identify and address adverse human rights impacts on the basis of consultation with those potentially affected. They should be made available far enough in advance to allow those potentially affected a careful examination of its contents, in a manner and through means that fully respect the principles of accessibility of information and non-discrimination so that the local community can participate effectively and give their free, prior and informed consent.

Under international law, including the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), voted for by Guatemala, and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, ratified by Guatemala in 1996, Guatemala has a duty to consult Indigenous Peoples concerning investment projects. This includes projects involving the exploration or exploitation of natural resources in their territories.

In addition, under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Guatemala is a party, countries must ensure the right of all individuals and communities to participate in decisions that affect the realization of their human rights. For participation to be meaningful, people must be informed far enough in advance of the relevant decision-making process, and informed in a manner and in ways that fully respect the principles of accessibility of information and non-discrimination.



NO Extraction License to Tahoe Resources!

It is a crucial moment to take action in defense of communities threatened by mining in Guatemala.

Before January 11, 2012, Guatemala’s Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources must decide whether to allow Tahoe Resources to develop a silver and gold mine in the province of Santa Rosa. Local communities have not been consulted about the plans and the required environmental assessment has not been made available to the public despite a formal request under Guatemala’s access to information law.
Under international human rights standards, Guatemala must consult populations that could be affected by the mining project and obtain the consent of indigenous peoples who could be affected.
Please click here to urge Guatemala NOT to issue an exploitation license to Tahoe Resources until these communities have been adequately consulted, or in the case of indigenous peoples, until they have given their free, prior and informed consent.


Add your name to OXFAM’s action – Sept 2011

Oxfam partners received death threats – HELP.                                                       


Oxfam partners in Guatemala have recently received death threats – and we need your voice, now, to ensure that these threats don’t come to fruition.

As an Oxfam supporter, you already know that the work we do affects people’s lives daily – but the work is often dangerous, and sometimes when our partners speak up in defense of poor communities, they are putting their lives on the line.

Two of Oxfam’s outspoken partners at CALAS (Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action) who work daily on mining and oil issues, received death threats three days ago – and we need to get the public eye on this case immediately, so that they have a level of protection.

Please send a message to the President of Guatemala – we must do everything we can, NOW, to protect our Oxfam partners.

Violence and tensions in Guatemala have intensified in the run-up to the country’s presidential elections on September 11. Our partners at CALAS have been working to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and to expose corruption in a natural gas project.

The Executive Director of CALAS, Yuri Melini, was seriously wounded in 2008 during an assassination attempt.

Large-scale mining operations have been the source of protest, violence, and human rights violations since the early 2000s. Oxfam partner CALAS has sought to promote informed debate about the costs and benefits of oil and mining in the country and to promote greater respect for the rights of indigenous communities – and now they are under threat for their stand.

Get these threats in the public eye and protect Yuri Melini and Rafael Maldonado.

Here at Oxfam, we are in awe of the strong and steadfast stand taken by these human rights activists – but now, more than ever, they need our support. “I won’t be intimidated by these threats,” Melini said in a statement. “I will continue the struggle to defend human rights and protect Guatemala’s environment.”

Please don’t let their work be in vain.

Tell the President of Guatemala, we will not stand by while our partners are threatened.


30 Second ACTION for Human Rights: Tell the Canadian Pension Plan to vote for shareholder resolution – May 2011

Photo credit: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org

Photo credit: James Rodriguez, mimundo.org

Resolution asks Goldcorp to respect international law and voluntarily suspend the Marlin mine in Guatemala

The Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board currently has $256 million worth of shares in Goldcorp, the company that operates the highly-contested Marlin mine in Guatemala’s western highlands. In May 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures urging that the mine be suspended in order to ensure the health and safety of affected communities, and as a result of the severity of alleged underlying human rights violations regarding the lack of consultation and consent from local indigenous peoples. Almost a year later, the Marlin mine continues operating; intimidation and threats persist against those who are critical or outspoken against the mine.

Shareholders have presented a resolution to Goldcorp asking the company to voluntarily suspend operations at its Marlin mine in compliance with the precautionary measures. The proposal comes in the wake of violent confrontations at the mine site and highlights the increasing national and international press focus on this issue.

Through your pension payments, Canadians help finance Goldcorp’s operations and alleged human rights abuses in the Americas.

Please take action today to tell the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board to vote for the shareholder resolution.

(or copy and paste this link: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/6497/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6657)

Posted: 04 March 2011
Guatemala: Mine activists attacked
Photo Credit: Community members from San Miguel Ixtahuacán demonstrate on 28 February 2011 against continued operation of the Marlin Mine despite a suspension order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [Copyright: COPAE]

On 28 February, 200 members of the communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán municipality were protesting against the Guatemalan state’s failure to suspend extraction activities at the Marlin mine. Activities have continued at the Marlin Mine, owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp, despite an order from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that activities be suspended until the effects of the mine on local indigenous communities are properly assessed.

The protests, organized by the Front in Defense of San Miguel Ixtahuacán (FREDEMI), lasted around 12 hours. When the protesters left, the bus they were travelling in was stopped and the protesters were forced to get off the bus. They were beaten and robbed. Some protesters, including Miguel Bamacá and Aniceto López, were taken from the group and attacked individually.  Aniceto López was reportedly taken to the office of the local mayor where he was beaten in the face and threatened with death. Others were seriously injured, such as Fredy González, who was hospitalized for an injury caused by being hit by a firearm.

Miguel Bámaca and Aniceto López were released later that evening, seriously injured. They are in fear for their safety and the safety of their families.

Take Action

Please act quickly. Send a short, polite letter of concern about what happened on 28 February 2011 to the authorities below, with a copy to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister for Latin America and Guatemala’s Ambassador in Canada. Begin your letter with a sentence describing who you are in order to give the message a personal touch that will give it greater impact.

  • Call for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats and attacks on Aniceto López and Miguel Bámaca, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.
  • Urge the authorities to take immediate steps to provide appropriate protection to members of the 18 Mayan communities who were granted protective measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and to activists working on alleged human rights violations as a result of mining operations.
  • Urge them to comply with the precautionary measures ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to suspend activities in the Marlin mine.

Write To

Fiscal General de la República y Jefa del Ministerio Público
Licda. Claudia Paz y paz Bailey
8ª Avenida 10-67, Zona 1
Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: 011 502 2411 9124
Dear Attorney General
Ministro de Gobernación (Interior Minister)
Lic. Carlos Menocal
6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala
Fax: 011 502 2413 8658
Dear Minister

Copies To

Ambassador for the Republic of Guatemala
His Excellency Georges de la Roche Plihal
130 Albert Street, Suite 1010
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax: (613) 233-0135
Email: consular@embaguate-canada.com
Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
Hon. Diane Ablonczy
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Fax: (613) 992-2537
Email: Ablonczy.D@parl.gc.ca

More Background

The request for precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on 20 May 2010 asked that the Guatemalan government suspend operation of the Marlin mine, owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goldcorp, and implement measures to prevent environmental contamination until the IACHR reaches a final decision on the petition presented by the communities to the IACHR. The IACHR also requested that the Guatemalan government take any necessary measures to guarantee the life and physical integrity of the members of the 18 Indigenous communities.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous People visited Guatemala from 14-18 June 2010 in order to analyze the application of the principles of consultation with Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala, in particular with relation to extractive industries, and with a special focus on the situation of Indigenous Peoples living near to the mining operations in San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa. At the end of his visit, the Special Rapporteur stated that he had received allegations that on many occasions the Guatemalan government had granted licenses for the exploitation of natural resources in Indigenous territories without the necessary consultations with local Indigenous Peoples. He added that he had received testimonies alleging that there had been harassment and attacks against community leaders, and that the testimonies imply that the security forces and private companies could be behind such incidents.

On 23 June 2010, the Guatemalan government announced that they would comply with the IACHR request to suspend the mining company’s operations, but added the next day that this would take some time as legal and administrative processes would have to be followed. The mining company’s operations continue to date.

The defense of human rights is a legitimate activity, fundamental for the advancement of human rights for all. The authorities in Guatemala have demonstrated an unjustified delay in adopting and implementing a Program of Protection for human rights defenders at risk and a Protocol of Investigation for cases of abuses against them. It is essential that the Guatemalan authorities take seriously their responsibility to ensure that human rights defenders are effectively protected so that they can carry out their work safely and free from fear, as established in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the Organization of the United Nations in 1998.

The Front for the Defence of San Miguel is an alliance of diverse communities and organizations that resist the extractive work of the Marlin Mine. The Front aims to carry out legal and resistance actions around the mining activity in San Miguel Ixtahuacán.  The Front represents the people that presented the petition to the IACHR.


–Versión en español abajo–

Stand in solidarity with the communities of Sipacapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacán in the struggle for their rights against Goldcorp Inc.’s open-pit Marlin mine in Guatemala.

In May 2010, 139 organizations signed a letter of international support urging the government of Guatemala to comply with the precautionary measures established by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that are intended to protect life and physical integrity from imminent harm.

Today, we ask for your support on a new letter.To date, the government has not complied, mine operations continue, and communities around the mine continue to suffer from its activity.  On September 21st, Goldcorp took advantage of this hesitation and dumped untested and unauthorizeddrainage water from the tailings ponds into a local river causing the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources to open a penal suit against the company. It is a crucial moment to demand that the president take immediate action to comply with the precautionary measures and suspend mining operations.

INDIVIDUALS: Please click here to read and sign a letter to the President of the Republic and other ministers to show your solidarity with the communities affected by the Marlin mine.

Ahora es otro momento para solidarizarse con las comunidades de Sipacapa y San Miguel Ixtahuacán que están luchando por sus derechos contra la mina Marlin de Goldcorp en Guatemala.

En mayo de 2010, 139 organizaciones firmaron una carta de apoyo internacional instando que el gobierno de Guatemala cumpla con las medidas cautelares establecidas por la comisión interamericana de derechos humanos que tienen como propósito de proteger la vida e integridad física de los daños inminentes.

Hoy, les escribimos de nuevo para pedir su respaldo por una carta nueva.Hasta la fecha, el gobierno no ha cumplido, la mina sigue en operaciones y las comunidades alrededor de la mina continúan sufriendo por las actividades de la mina. El 21 de septiembre, Goldcorp se aprovechó de la indecisión del Estado y efectuó una descarga de agua de la presa de colas sin el permiso nil las pruebas necesarias, la cual impulsó una denuncia penal por parte del Ministerio del Ambiente y los Recursos Naturales contra la empresa Goldcorp. Es un momento clave para exigir al presidente que cumpla inmediatamente con las medidas cautelares y suspenda las operaciones de la mina.

INDIVIDUALES: Haga clic aqui para leer, firmar y mandar la carta adjunta al Presidente de la República de Guatemala y otros ministros para demostrar su solidaridad con las comunidades afectadas por la mina Marlin.



On Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 7:30 PM in the small community San José Nueva Esperanza in the village Maquivil, municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Ms. Diodora  Antonia Hernández Cinto was shot. Two unknown young men showed up at her house asking for a place to stay. When they were refused housing, they asked to buy a cup of coffee. When Ms. Diodora went to give them their coffee, they shot her in the head near her right eye, causing significant blood loss. The two men ran off in the direction of San José Ixcaniche. Ms. Diodora was taken to the hospital in San Marcos and then to the Roosevelt hospital in Guatemala City, where she underwent surgery on June 11th. She is in stable condition, but the consequences of the gun shot are still unknown.

On the same night, at 11:30 PM a group of people arrived in the community to support Ms. Diodora. When they returned to their community Ágel, they heard gunshots approximately 50 meters from their homes.

So far neither the National Civil Police nor the Attorney General’s office have begun the necessary steps to investigate the incident. An official complaint was filed in the Attorney General’s office of San Marcos #MP166-2010-2818 on July 8, 2010.

Ms. Diodora Antonia Hernández Cinto is part of a resistance movement against the human rights violations being committed by the company Montana Exploradora, the subsidiary of Goldcorp Inc that is operating the Marlin mine. She has been active in her community Sacmuj, where the company has extensive exploration interests and the inhabitants fear impacts on their natural water springs and the violation of their right to consent. She has been threatened a number of times for her participation in this movement.

Since 2005 indigenous communities affected by the Marlin mine have denounced grave human rights violations, impacts on their health, contamination of their water sources, and and a decrease in their civil liberties. Among the most significant complaints is the violation of their right to free, prior, and informed consent, which is protected under international law in regards to projects developed on indigenous lands.

On May 20, 2010 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS), issued precautionary measures to the Guatemalan government calling for the suspension of mining operations at Marlin to prevent possible impacts on the health of the communities as well as their access to water.  The government was asked to take immediate measures to protect the lives of community members in the municipalities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and Sipacapa.

On June 23, 2010 the Colom administration announced its commitment to comply with the precautionary measures and suspend mining operations at Marlin until the IACHR can rule on the merits of the petition filed by the communities.

The Guatemalan government must act immediately to guarantee the security of community leaders and their families. Members of the Front in Defense of San Miguel (FREDEMI) and other human rights defenders have reported an increase in threats against their lives since the State’s decision to suspend the Marlin mine’s activities. They fear acts of retaliation from mine workers and from the company.


1. That the State take measures to protect the lives of human rights defenders.

2. That the representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) and the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH) in San Marcos carry out their respective functions based in the rights of citizens and in line with the laws of the country regarding cases that affect human rights defenders.

3. That the State, through the Attorney General’s office carry out an immediate investigation into this incident.

4. That the State comply in full with the precautionary measures issued by the IACHR in favor of communities affected by the Marlin mine who are defending their human rights.

5. That the State guarantee respect for human rights, the national constitution, and international agreements related to the rights of indigenous peoples.

Modelo de carta [Example Letter, English Below]:

Estimado Sr. Presidente Alvaro Colom,

Escribimos con mucha preocupación por la situación actual en San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos. El 7 de julio la Señora Diodora Antonia Hernández Cinto fue baleado por dos hombres dentro de su casa a las 7:00 de la noche. Ella es conocida por su participación en la defensa de los derechos humanos ante la empresa Montana Exploradora/ Goldcorp Inc. y sus operaciones mineras en la mina Marlin. Es el primer ataque armado contra una activista anti-minera en este municipio.

Entendemos que el 24 de junio, el gobierno de Guatemala aceptó acatar las medidas cautelares emitidas por la Comisión Inter-Americana de Derechos Humanos. Aplaudimos esta decisión de la administración ya que muestra un respeto por los derechos humanos y las obligaciones internacionales de Guatemala. Sin embargo, es urgente y necesario que el gobierno cumpla con estas medidas lo mas pronto posible, y que tome medidas inmediatas de proteger a los pobladores en riesgo contra posibles represalias.

Urgimos una investigación inmediata y profunda sobre los hechos del ataque contra la Señora Diodora Hernándes tanto como su acción inmediata para garantizar la seguridad de los defensores de derechos humanos en San Miguel Ixtahuacán.


Esteemed Mr. President Álvaro Colom,

I write to express my concern regarding the current situation in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos. On July 7, Ms. Diodora Antionia Hernández Cinto was shot by two men inside her home at 7:00 PM. She was known for her participation in the defense of human rights against the mining operations of Montana Exploradora/ Goldcorp Inc. This is the first armed attack against an anti-mining activist in this municipality.

I understand that on June 24 of this year the Guatemalan government accepted the precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and committed to suspending operations at the Marlin mine. We applaud this decision as a demonstration of respect for human rights and for Guatemala’s international obligations. However, it is urgent and necessary that the government carry out these measures as soon as possible and take immediate steps to secure the lives of community members at risk of possible retaliation.

We urge you to carry out an immediate investigation into the attack against Ms. Diodora Hernández, and to take immediate action to guarantee the security of human rights defenders in San Miguel Ixtahuacán.



Lic. Álvaro Colom
Presidente de la República [President of the Republic]
Casa Presidencial
6ª Avenida 4-18, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Telefax: (502) 2221.4423 / (502) 2238.3579


Doctor Sergio Fernando Morales Alvarado
Procurador de Derechos Humanos [Human Rights Ombudsman]
12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Telefax: (502) 2424.1717
gmasariegos@pdh.org.gt / opdhg@intelnet.net.gt

Lic. María Encarnación Mejía de Contreras (interina)
Fiscal General de la República y Jefe del Ministerio Público [Interim Attorny General]
8ª Avenida 10-67, Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Telefax: (502) 2411.9124 / (502) 2411.9326
Fiscalía Distrital de San Marcos [Attorny General’s Office- San Marcos]
7a Avenida A 8-06, zona 1
San Marcos
Telfono: (502) 7760.4355, (502) 7760.1051

Lic. Rudy Castillo Ramirez
Auxiliatura de la Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos [Human Rights Office- San Marcos]
5ta Calle 7-34, Zona 2
San Marcos, Guatemala
Telefax (502) 7760-8087

Ruth del Valle
Presidenta de la Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en materia de Derechos Humanos – COPREDEH [Presidential Commission for Human Rights]
2 Av. 10-50 Zona 9, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala, C.A. 01009
Fax (502): 2334-0119


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