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Guatemala: Peoples’ Health Tribunal Declares Goldcorp Guilty

This is the second post of a two-part series. Read an introduction to the situation in San Miguel Ixtahuacán and the organization of the Health Tribunal in the first post of this series.

On July 14 and 15, 2012, members of the San Miguel Ixtahuacán community joined M4 (The MesoAmerican Movement against extractive Mining Model) [es] and the Toronto-based Mining Injustice Solidarity Network to organize ‘The Peoples’ International Health Tribunal'.

Photojournalist James Rodriguez covered the Health Tribunal extensively on his blog.

Goldcorp Health Tribunal San Miguel Ixtahuac‡án, July 14, 2012. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

From left to right: Diodora Hernández, Gregoria Crisanta Pérez, and Crisanta Pérez, Mam Mayan women from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala, have all been affected by the mining operations of Canadian-owned Goldcorp’s Marlin Gold Mine. The health tribunal will use community testimony, scientific research and human rights organization’s knowledge to examine how the presence of Goldcorp’s mining operations has affected community residents in Mesoamerica.

Local women from San Miguel Ixtahuacán prepare lunch on first day of the Health Tribunal on July 14, 2012. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

Aniseto López, from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, speaks during the inauguration of the event. July 24, 2012. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

Jury members, Goldcorp Health Tribunal San Miguel Ixtahuac‡án, July 14, 2012. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

The event also featured testimonies by people affected by Goldcorp's operations in other countries.

Carlos Amador, from the Siria Valley Environmental Committee in Honduras. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission

Carlos Amador, from the Siria Valley Environmental Committee in Honduras, declares during the event: “We must defend life with life itself! We come from the Siria Valley to give our testimony on how we have been gravely damaged by Goldcorp’s San Martin mine. It has operated for ten years, ten years of destruction and illnesses!”

Miguel Mijangos, from the Mexican Network of Mining Affected-Communities (REMA). Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

Miguel Mijangos, from the Mexican Network of Mining Affected-Communities (REMA), presents the Carrizalillo community case from Guerrero, Mexico, where a Goldcorp-owned mine operats. “As of June 2012, six years since the mine started operations, 100% of the households of Carrizalillo have at least one family member who suffers a mining-related illness.”

Matías López, from San Miguel Ixtahuacán, declares during the presentation of the Marlin case: “We ask that you leave us in peace! We ask that you leave in peace… back to your own countries.” Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

Luis Mendoza, 25, worked for two years at the San Martín Mine. He now suffers serious skin disorders. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

The second day of the Tribunal kicked off with a spiritual invocation and more testimonies from local and international activists.

A spiritual invocation takes place before the second day’s activities. July 25, 2012. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

Delegation from Cabañas, El Salvador. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

The delegation from Cabañas, El Salvador, shares the tragic experience the community has suffered due to Pacific Rim’s the El Dorado gold mine. Numerous activists in defence of their territory have been murdered. In addition, the Canadian company has sued the State of El Salvador for damages after its license was revoked due to environmental concerns.

Angélica Choc. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

Angélica Choc, along with the delegation from El Estor, describes the atrocities suffered by the Q’eqchi’ Mayan people of the region since the arrival of a Canadian-owned Nickel mine in the mid-1960s. Currently, three legal cases are being processed in Canadian courts connected to these grave human rights violations: The Murder of Adolfo Ich Chamán, German Chub Choc’s shooting, and the case of Rosa Elbira and the 12 women from Lote 8. More information on the legal cases here.

After listening to these and various other cases, the jury announced its verdict:

Jury gives its verdict. Photo by James Rodriguez, used with permission.

The jury, made up of distinguished individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and experiences including activists, scholars, spiritual leaders, journalists, and medical professionals, found Goldcorp guilty of human rights violations, health harms, and environmental contamination.

“We find Goldcorp guilty for its activities in Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico, which we find to be seriously damaging to the health and the quality of life, the quality of environment, and the right to self determination of the affected Indigenous and campesino communities.” Read the complete verdict here.

Visit James’ photo essay to learn about more of these cases and see more images of the Tribunal. Independent social documentary makers Caracolproducciones also summarized the Tribunal in the following video:

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