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On July 8, Rights Action reported (in Honduras Coup Alert #19) that:
“From our partner group, the Committee for the Defense of the Environment in the Siria Valley, Rights Action has learned that Entremares employees (Entremares being Goldcorp’s wholly owned subsidiary) from the “San Martin” mine have been taken ... to participate in pro-coup regime marches in Tegucigalpa organized by the “Movement for Peace and Democracy”. Goldcorp (Entremares) pays for the transportation and at least one meal for the workers to attend.”
After sending this to our list-serv, Rights Action received a letter from Goldcorp saying our information was “fabricated”, “utterly and completely false”. They asked us to take these statements off our webpage and publish a retraction of the “malicious allegations.”
This is not the first time that Goldcorp has accused Rights Action of fabricating information and writing “sensationalist” articles about their huge (and very profitable) open-pit, cyanide leach mines in Honduras and Guatemala that have contributed to and caused extensive health and environmental harms and human rights violations. (For more info: firstname.lastname@example.org)
In respect for Goldcorp, we took the Honduras Coup Alert #19 off our webpage. Then, we sent two people to the Siria Valley, to triple-check our information. Today, we re-confirm and clarify our information.
In the Siria Valley, where Goldcorp (Entremares) operates its cyanide leach, open pit gold mine, we interviewed: mine workers, ex-mine workers, local citizens and some local citizens who have worked for many years to hold Goldcorp Inc accountable for the well documented health and environmental harms and human rights violations. They confirmed to us that:
On a number of occasions, mine workers, ex-mine workers and other local young men, have travelled in buses from the Siria Valley to Tegucigalpa to participate in pro-coup marches organized by the pro-coup Movement for Peace and Democracy that is funded by the Honduran private sector (see more info, below) and possibly by the International Republican Institute, USAID and the NED (National Endowment for Democracy);
The buses from the Siria Valley are contracted to Entremares;
These bus trips are coordinated by local men who work or used to work with Entremares; who work or used to work as “community promoters” with the Fundacion San Martin (a local NGO set up and funded by Entremares); and who work with the Honduran Association of Mining, that Entremares is a member of;
The men and young men are contacted one by one, and asked if they would like to go on the bus, for 400 Lempiras (over US$20). If they agree, they are told to meet at such and such a point, in the Siria Valley, and the bus picks them up in the morning;
On the bus, they were given white t-shirts with pro-democracy and pro-peace slogans on them, to wear during the protests.
On the bus, the men and young men are paid 400 Lempiras cash. One young man told us that he, working as a campesino, could earn 100 lempiras ($5) on a typical day of work; thus, it was worth it and he was going to do it again;
When the bus gets to the protest, in Tegucigalpa, they are wearing their white t-shirts. They are told to stay in the area of the protest, and to meet back at the bus at 3pm. They were told to shout along with the pro-democracy and pro-peace slogans of the pro-coup rally organizers.
At around 3pm, then are driven home to the Siria Valley.
RAISING FUNDS FOR PRO-COUP REGIME ACTIVITIES
The larger point is that many companies in Honduras – national and international – are doing this. Though Goldcorp Inc., from its head office in Vancouver, may not have had full or any knowledge about this practice, anyone following the Honduran situation since the June 28th military coup, and even before, knows the private, pro-coup sector (mainly medium and larger sized companies) are being asked to provide financial support and to bring their workers, or even busloads of poor people from Tegucigalpa slums, to the pro-coup protests.
On June 26, 2009 (two days before the coup), the Camara de Comercio e Industria de Tegucigalpa sent the following letter (translated by Rights Action), signed by its president Aline Flores.
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TEGUCIGALPA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
Promoting free enterprise for more than a century
Friday, 26 June 2009
Faced with the political and economic uncertainty in our country, it is necessary that the Honduran private sector take urgent actions directed towards the support of democracy and social and economic freedom.
Our representative institution of the capital city businesspeople has firmly stated its respect for the rule of law, the independence of powers, and the faithful compliance with the Constitution of the Republic.
In this historic moment, it is necessary that each affiliated company take a step forward with regards to the professional effort that the Chamber of Commerce is leading. For this reason, we request a voluntary donation with the aim of implementing a communication and civic strategy.
Category 1: US$1,000.00
Category 2: US$2,000.00
Category 3: US$3,000.00
This is the moment to defend our country and the result of the personal effort of each one of us that generate employment for our collaborators, and for which we respond to the highest patriotic ideal: your love for Honduras.
We assure management transparency of the funds obtained, for which a report accounting for these funds will be presented to donor companies. Remember that a receipt for a donation will be issued, so the donation is tax-deductible.
Your deposit can be made in Banco de Occidente account: #21-401-138887-3. Confirm your deposit with Mrs. Claudia Barahona at 231-0911 or 232-4200, extension 743 or you can do this via email at: email@example.com.
Aline Flores, President
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It is understood by many people in Honduras that this is a pool of funds collected by the private sector to help fund pro-coup regime activities including the protests organized by the Movement for Peace and Democracy.
Thus far, no one Rights Action works with has been able to get a copy of the list of companies (categories 1-3) that have donated funds. It is a good question for any company operating in Honduras as to whether they have paid money (and how much) into this fund.
WHY MIGHT GOLDCORP Inc NOT BE PLEASED WITH PRESIDENT ZELAYA?
As stated above, Rights Action has been supporting Honduran organizations and working with them, for close to 6 years, documenting and denouncing a list of environmental and health harms and human rights violations caused directly or indirectly by Entremares’ mining operation.
During this time, the Honduran governments (including that of President Zelaya) and legal system did virtually nothing to investigate and hold Entremares accountable.
The one thing the government of President Zelaya did do was place a firm moratorium on giving out further licenses for mining exploration or exploitation, acknowledging there would have to be a complete review of the Mining Law that has given extraordinary rights to mining companies, while leaving local communities and the environment unprotected – let alone the fact that the regulatory legal, political and administrative bodies have enabled the impunity of the mining companies.
It is day 23 of Honduran coup resistance, and the empowering people’s movement marches on …
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