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Urgent Actions

The communities in resistance to mining in San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc continue to hold their ground at the roadblock they have maintained since March of this year as they are increasingly threatened by a large group of pro-mining provocateurs.
Last week, approximately 80 people from San Jose del Golfo and surrounding municipalities wearing hats and shirts from EXMINGUA, the subsidiary of the US company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates, tried to open access to the mine. They were unarmed, but many acted very threateningly towards those at the roadblock. Rumors circulated that the company offered money to near-by residents to participate.
As news spread about the confrontation, the number of those in peaceful resistance to the mine grew to an estimated 500 people. About 16 members of the National Civil Police were also on the scene, but held their distance. Attempts at dialogue facilitated by representatives of Presidential Commission for Human Rights (COPREDEH) and the Human Rights Ombudsman (PDH), as well as by national and international organizations, failed.  
Community members hold a replica of the Alice Zachmann Human Rights Defenders Award presented to them by GHRC amongst other banners showing international solidarity.

Despite mine supporters' threats and intimidation, women, children and the elderly formed the front line of defense and held up banners demonstrating international solidarity almost as shields against the angry mob in front of them. 

As the day drew to a close, non-violent resistance won out, and pro-mining group retreated.
However, later that same week, an even larger group arrived, once again threatening the communities in resistance--and the pattern continues. We're extremely concerned for the safety of these non-violent protesters.

Demand Justice for the Victims of the Massacre in Totonicapàn, Guatemala!

On October 4, 2012, Maya K’iche’ communities carried out a peaceful protest organized by the Alcaldía Indígena (Indigenous authority) of the 48 Cantones of Totonicapán, in regions of Alaska, Xecanchavox and Cuatro Caminos in the highlands in Guatemala. During the demonstration, Guatemalan Military and National Civil Police forces appeared at the protest and shot indiscriminately at the demonstrators, leaving at least 6 dead and over 35 people wounded.

With the pain of the recent genocide still fresh in the historic memory of indigenous communities, it is extremely concerning that acts of state violence are once again taking place in Guatemala against indigenous people who seek to exercise their legitimate rights to free speech and peaceful protest. 

Download our postcard and demand that Kappes, Cassiday and Associates stop their Tambor mining project in Guatemala!

Since 2011 the communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have organized in nonviolent resistance to a U.S.-based mining company intent on extracting gold from the area in callous disregard for residents’ concerns about the mine’s impact on their water supply and the region's environmental health. The site, called the Tambor Gold Project, is owned by Guatemalan mining company Exmingua S.A., which in August 2012 was acquired by the Reno-based engineering firm Kappes, Cassiday and Associates (KCA).

The communities’ embrace of peaceful civil disobedience has led them to maintain a permanent roadblock at the entrance to the mine. Men, women and children take turns preventing the heavy mining machinery from entering their communities.

Their resistance, however, has been met with repression and violence. Local activists daily face ongoing threats and acts of intimidation. On June 13th of this year, community activist Yolandi Oquelí barely survived an assassination attempt as she left the roadblock. To this day she lives with a bullet lodged near her spine.

In September of this year, GHRC sponsored two representatives of those communities, Alvaro Sandoval Palencia and Antonio “Tono” Reyes, to come to the United States and visit eight U.S. congressional offices, the U.S. State Department, the Embassy of Guatemala, and various partner organizations to build support for their ongoing struggle in defense of their basic human rights to safety and a healthy environment.

In support of the actions of these communities, GHRC asks that you download our postcard and write a message addressing the CEO of the mine in question, Mr. Daniel W. Kappes, to express their solidarity with Alvaro, Tono and their communities. Taking action now will make Mr. Kappes and associates aware that the communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have many supporters who will not let their harmful mining go on unchecked and unchallenged.

Suggested Messages for Kappes, Cassiday & Associates Postcards

I stand in solidarity with the communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc who are resisting the El Tambor mine. Please acknowledge their right to consultation.

Considering the contamination of soil and water supplies caused by mining, it is my belief that the communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc should be consulted prior to any further work on the El Tambor mine.

The communities of San Jose del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc have been victims of ongoing threats related to their resistance of the El Tambor mine. We ask Kappes, Cassiday and Associates to respect the rights of these indigenous communities.

Tell Congress that now is not the time to lift the ban on funding to the Guatemalan Army!

The ban stands as a symbol of U.S. commitment to human rights in Guatemala, and lifting the ban now sends the wrong message. The military has not cooperated with investigations of human rights violations from the internal conflict. Meanwhile, the army's role in citizen security is rapidly expanding.  In addition, there is serious concern that assistance to the Guatemalan army will end up in the hands of the cartels it is supposedly combating. The U.S. Congress must continue to pressure the Guatemalan government to respect human rights before giving any funding to the army.

Action Archive







Invite your Congressional Representative to GHRC-sponsored Briefing
As Guatemala’s President, a general linked to genocide, comes to the end of his first month in office, the U.S. Congress is opening the door to lift the decades-old ban on U.S. funding to the Guatemalan army. [...]

Denounce Attempts to Impede Judicial Proceedings of Key Cases
Guatemalan military officers facing war crimes charges are positioned to push through a de facto amnesty, either by removing Claudia Paz y Paz, the amazing attorney general, or through a court ruling canceling international human rights law.

Evictions, Violence, Hunger and Death in the Polochic Valley
Q'eqchi' Maya families are continuing to be threatened as part of a series of evictions carried out by the Chabil Utzaj sugar company in the Polochic Valley.

Reparations Needed for the 33 Communities affected by the Chixoy Dam
On March 17, Guatemalan communities affected by the Chixoy dam project are demanding the government finalize the Reparations Plan signed last year.


Leader of Health Worker's Union Shot
Mateo López, general secretary of the local section of the Health Worker's Union and a member of the coalition Frente Nacional de Lucha (FNL), was shot five times on his way to a union meeting in Guatemala City. López survived but remains in danger of suffering further attacks.  

Maya Kaq’chikel Artist, Teacher, and Spiritual Guide Tortured, and Killed
On August 25, 2010, Maya Kaq’chikel teacher and artist Leonardo Lisandro Guarcax, age 32, was kidnapped en route to work. Leonardo was the director of a school in Chuacruz, Sololá and coordinator for the Sotz’il Jay Cultural Center. He is the third member of his family to be killed for his work at the Cultural Center.

Community member shot for resisting mining activity
Colom Declared Suspension of Marlin Mine Operations, in compliance with a recent Inter-American Commission ruling. Two Weeks Later, Diodora Hernandez was shot in the head, and others were physically intimidated.

Petition and Call in Support of Jennifer Harbury
Join GHRC in supporting Jennifer Harbury, who continues her 18-year struggle for resolution in the case of Efraín Bámaca, as well as for the other human rights defenders who are accompanying the ten paradigmatic cases now in Guatemalan courts.

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Four Human Rights Defenders Murdered
In the first two months of 2010, there have been 17 attacks on defenders including four assassinations. Demand the full investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the murder of Guatemalan defenders Evelinda Ramirez, German Curup, Octavio Roblero, and Juan Antonio Chen and to protect the rights of defenders to continue their work without intimidation or violent attacks.

Four Trade Unionists Killed in the Last Two Months
December 16: Thus far in 2009, six unionists have been killed in Guatemala; 9 were killed in 2008; and two in 2007, making Guatemala the second most dangerous country in Latin America for unionists. In the past two months alone, four unionists were murdered.

Women's Rights Activist Norma Cruz Threatened
October 6: Norma Cruz, renowned Guatemalan women's rights defender and founder of the Survivor's Foundation, received death threats on September 19th against her daughter in retaliation for Norma's work supporting a rape victim.

Human Rights Lawyer Jesus Tecú Osorio Receives Threat
October 6: Jesus Tecú Osorio, survivor of the Rio Negro massacre of March 13, 1982 and key witness in national and international genocide hearings received calls on September 14 threatening the abduction and torture of his children.

Progressive Publisher Arrested on False Charges
August 6, 2009: Raul Figueroa Sarti was sentenced to one year in prison for alleged copyright infringement. Figueroa is a well-known progressive voice, publishing books on historic memory, mass grave exhumations, and femicide. His sentence was based on publishing a photo on the cover of a book, supposedly without the permission of the photographer; however, Figueroa testified that he had permission to use the photo (with the photographer’s name credited on the back cover).

Kidnapping of Guatemalan Lawyer Gladys Monterroso
March 25, 2009: Gladys Monterroso, lawyer, University professor, and Secretary General of the Encuentro por Guatemala party, and wife of Human Rights Ombudsman Sergio Morales, was kidnapped in Guatemala City, interrogated and burned with cigarettes on different parts of her body. No ransom was demanded but the kidnapping occured just after the Ombudsman released his report on documents found in the Police Archives.

Death Threats Against FAFG Staff - CANCELLED - These threats were found not to be legitimate
January 14, 2009


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Attacks Against Miguel Albizures
November 11, 2008: Threatening attack against activist and videographer Miguel Arturo Albizures Pedrosa, the Vice-President of media organization Asociación COMUNICARTE.

Threats Against Family of Norma Cruz
October 30, 2008: On October 19 and October 23, 2008, a family member of the director of the Survivors' Foundation received death threats. GHRC is concerned about the safety of Norma Cruz, her family, and her colleagues at the Survivors’ Foundation.

Israel Romero Estacuy Murdered
September 21, 2008: The Secretary General of the union of the municipality of Retalhuleu, Israel Romero Estacuy, was shot and killed in the restaurant where he was eating lunch. The attack, one of many recent acts of violence against community and environmental leaders, prompted further outcry over impunity in Guatemala.

Yuri Melini Shot
September 10, 2008: Yuri Melini, environmental activist, lawyer, and Director of Center of Legal Action in Environment and Social issues (CALAS) was shot outside his house in Guatemala city at 7:30am by masked gunmen.

Bishop Ramazzini Threatened
April 3, 2008

Campaigner for Justice Attacked
March 14, 2008

Death Penalty to be Reinstated in Guatemala
March 5, 2008

Help End the Killings of Women in Guatemala
January 28, 2008


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Community Leader Killed
December 13, 2007

Guatemalan Union Leader Killed
September 27, 2007

Son of Human Rights Defender Murdered
September 10, 2007

Urge Senators to Cosponsor Resolution on Femicides
June 12, 2007

FAFG Staff and Families Threatened
May 30, 2007

Five Human Rights Defenders Threatened
May 7, 2007

Sign Petition to Try Rios Montt for Genocide
April 16, 2007

Four Development Organizations Raided
April 11, 2007

Human Rights Organizations Attacked and Threatened
February 28, 2007


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