Further violations at IFC-backed mine

10 April 2005

A further killing has taken place, and local activists have received death threats for opposing the IFC-funded Glamis Gold Ltd’s Marlin mine in Guatemala (see Update 44)

Following demonstrations in January, as a result of which one protestor was killed, international interest and national resistance to mining in Guatemala has gained strength. This has resulted in accusations that the Bank has violated its own response to the Extractive Industries Review, and has been complicitious in violating ILO convention 169, ratified by Guatemala in 1996, and in relation to human rights violations carried out by local authorities.

According to Amnesty International, Alvaro Benigno Sánchez López was killed by security guards workgin for the Glamis subsidiary Montana Exploradora 13 March. The father of Sánchez López is understood to be an active oponent of mining in the local area, as is his local church. The security company Grupo GOLAN reportedly offered money to the family not to denounce the killing.

the Bank has violated its own response to the Extractive Industries Review

On 25 March, a member of indigenous rights group the Fundación Maya, and two other local activists received death threats in an effort to intimidate them into ceasing their anti-mining activities. The three individuals have also been accused of inciting the protest that took place on 11 January, against the transportation of mining equipment belonging to mining company Montana Exploradora. Their lives are believed to be in serious danger.

In February, the the Guatemalan NGO, Colectivo Madre Selva submitted a formal complaint to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) on behalf of communities affected by the Marlin mine. The CAO is now investigating whether the IFC has failed to comply with the World Bank Group’s own environmental and social safeguard policies. The Guatemalan Union (UNSITRAGUA) have also filed a complaint to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights based on violations of ILO 169 on indigenous rights.

Civil society and religious organisations, including Guatemalan bishops at the Annual Episcopal Conference have called on the IFC to suspend further processing of the existing loan to the Marlin mine. They are insisting on the establishment of an independent and thorough review of the project and for the Bank to support a process for immediate dialogue between communities, the government and the company. They are also calling for a halt to the granting of mining concessions; for open and fair consultations with affected communities; inclusion of indigenous peoples in the decision-making process; a reevaluation of national mining regulations; the implementation of ILO 169; and the creation of an independent and balanced consultative group on mining.

A report on mining in Guatemala and Honduras recently published by Canadian NGO Rights Action, charts the upsurge of metallic mining activity since the signing of the Peace Accords in both countries and includes Glamis Gold as a case study. The report details the part played by the Bank and IMF in bringing about mining legislation reforms in the late 1990s, as well as the role of the IFC and MIGA both in financing and insuring TNCs and as direct shareholders in several mining projects. One third of Honduras and one tenth of Guatemala are now covered by mining concessions and licenses. In Guatemala many of these are located in indigenous territory and have been granted without the free prior and informed consent of the local population.