Guatemalans concerned about the social and environmental effects of the Marlin Mine held a series of events in the country on the 19th and 20th of May to mark the one-year anniversary of a recommendation by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) to suspend operations at the mine.
Since the “precautionary measures” were issued by the IAHRC one year ago, mining has continued at the Marlin Mine, run by Goldcorp, despite local concerns about pollution and negative effects on the culture of 18 different Maya communities near the mine.
“The affected communities care the most about three fundamental things: water, the forest, and soil,” says Yuri Melini, Director of the Center for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS), speaking at a public event in Guatemala City. “They depend on these resources to live.”
People in communities near the Marlin Mine, in the western highlands of San Marcos, are reporting problems with access to drinking water and pollution, displacement from farming land, and threats and intimidation directed at people who openly criticize the mine.
Lack of action on the part of the government to comply with the precautionary measures led a delegation of representatives from civil society groups, including residents of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, the site of the Marlin Mine, to meet with the Minister of Energy and Mining Alfredo Pokus. “The Ministry of Energy and Mining has found no legal basis upon which to suspend the mine,” Pokus reported, and added that his ministry “is very concerned about the situation and has placed a delegate to supervise the area, 24 hours a day.”
"Oxfam is urging the government of Guatemala to comply with the precautionary measures,” says Juliana Turqui, Oxfam America’s program officer based in Guatemala. “The government had proven unable to control the negative impacts of mining activity, or prevent greater damage to the local population. We think that the suspension of the mine will alleviate the tense situation, and will help to guarantee better living conditions, security, and of protection of the human rights of the people in San Miguel Ixtahuacán.”