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Indigenous Protesters Blockading Mine Owned by Vancouver-based Goldcorp Assaulted, Detained in Guatemala [see updates below]

For Immediate Release. February 28, 2011. San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, Guatemala.

by San Miguel Ixtahuacan Defense Front

A meeting of community members affected by Goldcorp's Marlin mine. Agel, San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, Guatemala, 2007. Photo: Sandra Cuffe
A meeting of community members affected by Goldcorp's Marlin mine. Agel, San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, Guatemala, 2007. Photo: Sandra Cuffe


San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, Guatemala, February 28, 2011.




FIRST: Today, on February 28, 2011, communities took action to pressure the government of Guatemala to carry out the Precautionary Measures MC-260-07 granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which include the temporary suspension of the Marlin mine. The action consisted in peacefully blocking the main routes used by the company* in a way that respects the Constitution of our country, in which we have the right to protest.

SECOND: When the blockade began, a group of approximately 20 people assaulted Miguel Bamaca, despite the fact that the Presidential Human Rights Commission has granted him protectiv measures. Miguel Bamaca was beaten mercilessly by a family known as the Mejia family, together with neighbours who work for the company. These people have strong ties to the company and also to illegal business activities. This incident occurred at four thirty in the afternoon in a location known as Siete Platos.

THIRD: On the way back, near the community of San Jose Ixcaniche, approximately 70 members of this community intercepted the bus and began to assault various people who were travelling in the bus. Among them, our comrade Aniseto Lopez and others were beaten without being able to defend themselves. The attackers came armed with guns, stones, knives, sticks, and other weapons. Right now, approximately 50 people are kidnapped and being threatened by the community of San Jose Ixcaniche and the Mejia family.


* We demand that the State of Guatemala vigorously ensure respect for the physical integrity and security of these people

* We ask the International Community for timely support in the face of this terrible violation of human rights.

* We denounce the horrible practice of the mining company* that manipulates its workers and places them in confrontation with the communities legally defending a right.

* We reject this practice created by the company by ordering its workers to take 60 people hostage.

We ask the IACHR to maintain its vigilance and to request of the State of Guatemala the strict respect of human rights, and particularly those of Peoples and communities.

San Miguel Ixtahuacan, San Marcos, Guatemala, February 28, 2011.


* Translator's Note: This is an unofficial translation of the original communique in Spanish. The mining company to which the communique refers is a Guatemalan subsidiary of the Canadian corporation Goldcorp, based in Vancouver, BC. New reports say that everyone has been released, but that many people fled into the mountains and some are injured. Please stay tuned to the comments below for updates.

For contact information, please see this message from solidarity organizations actively working in Guatemala NISGUA (US), Collectif Guatemala (France), Rights Action (Canada/US), Breaking the Silence Network (Canada).

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UPDATE: Tuesday March 1st, ~10am

EVERYONE WAS REPORTEDLY RELEASED. In the end, one patrol unit arrived very late in the night, after people had dispersed. Many people fled into the mountains to take refuge. No one has been arrested yet.

Two people were seriously injured, neither could be taken to the hospital to receive any kind of medical attention. Human Rights organizations from the capital are on the way to San Miguel this morning and will send more information as soon as it's available.

For the time being, please stay ready to respond to an urgent action to demand that those responsible for causing terror on the communities and those intellectually responsible for these acts be held accountable.


Several folks here in the Maritimes called the police station in San Miguel with concerns last night and were told various things, including: the police were on the scene mediating the conflict, and that it was actually too dangerous for the police to get involved. Thanks for the updates.

Urgent Action & Background Information

Rights Action has more information and an urgent action up on the organization's website. There are also several examples of letters that have been sent HERE.

Amnesty International has a very basic urgent action based on other organizations, but also annexes background information and links about the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) precautionary measures and the 2010 visit of UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights James Anaya. It's all HERE.

Goldcorp response, community update, context

An article explaining the events of February 28th, the Goldcorp response, a community update, and some background context is now online HERE.

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