Mar 24, 2010

Mayan communities presented a Constitutional Petition to the President of the Republic of Guatemala

Since the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, Guatemala has seen the arrival of transnational corporations and large-scale industrial mega-projects, including hydro-electric dam projects and 395 mining recognition, exploration and exploitation licenses. However, the licenses have been issued without the free, prior and informed consent of the affected communities. The right of indigenous peoples to be consulted is guaranteed by Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which was ratified by Guatemala in 1996, in the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations and in the law of Municipal Code which is expressed in the constitution of the Republic of Guatemala. In the caseof the Marlin Mine in San Marcos and the Cementos Progreso plant in San JuanSacatepéquez, among others, the industrial operations have continued in spiteof outright rejection by many affected communities.

In February 2010, the ILO, through the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations, has requested that the Government ofGuatemala suspend mining operations in the territories of Indigenous MayaPeoples, including the Maya Kaqchikel communities in San Juan Sacatepéquezand the Maya Sipakapense and Maya Mam communities in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, giventhat the State authorized mining exploitation licenses without carrying out a Consultation of Good Faith in order to obtain free, prior and informed consent as required according toConvention 169 of the ILO.

On March 2, Mayan communities and organizations presented a Constitutional Petition to the President of the Republic of Guatemala to implement the recommendations within a maximum term of 30 days. The suspension woulddirectly affect the mining activities of Canadian mining giant Goldcorp Inc.which is currently working in San Miguel Ixtahuacan.

ACTION REQUEST: Below you will find a letter to thePresident of the Republic of Guatemala written by the affected communities andorganizations that support them. We are asking for your support and solidarity.Two ways you can act TODAY:

INDIVIDUALS: Please read and sign the letter and send it to the President of the Republicand show your solidarity with the desire of Mayan communities to suspend themining operations (email address of the President Included)

ORGANIZATIONS: Please send organization/group/union/church name and contact informationto: and

Ifyou have any questions about the below letter, please do not hesitate tocontact us. Also, if you could let us know if you go ahead and send the letter, it would be appreciated!

** * * * * * * * *
Desde la firma de los Acuerdos de Paz en 1996,Guatemala ha visto la entrada de empresas transnacionales y el desarrollo demega proyectos industriales a gran escala, incluyendo los proyectos de represashidroeléctricas y 395 licencias de reconocimiento, exploración y explotaciónminera. Sin embargo, las licencias se han dado sin el consentimiento libre,previo e informado de las comunidades.

El derecho de los pueblos indígenas a ser consultados se garantiza en el Convenio 169 de la Organización Internacional de Trabajo (OIT), que ratificóGuatemala en el año 1996, en la Declaración de Derechos de los PueblosIndígenas de las Naciones Unidas y en la ley de Código Municipal plasmada en laconstitución de la República de Guatemala. En el caso de la mina Marlin de San Marcos y de la planta deCementos Progreso en San Juan Sacatepéquez, entre otros, las operacionesindustriales han seguido, a pesar del claro rechazo de varias comunidades.

En febrero del 2010, a través del Comité deExpertos en Aplicación de Convenios y Recomendaciones, la OIT solicitó al Gobiernode Guatemala suspender las operacionesmineras en territorios de los pueblos indígenas Mayas Kaqchikeles de SanJuan Sacatepéquez, y de los Mayas Sipakapenses y Mames de San Miguel Ixtahuacán,debido a que se autorizaron licencias deexplotación minera sin llevar a cabo las consultas de buena fe para obtener elconsentimiento libre, previo e informado tal como lo estipula el Convenio 169de la OIT.

Para implementar dichas recomendaciones las comunidades y organizaciones Mayaspresentaron el 2 de marzo de este año una Petición Constitucional al Presidentede la República para hacerlas efectivas en el plazo de 30 días máximo, por loque solicitamos su colaboración para dirigirse al Presidente de la República ymostrarle la solidaridad con las comunidades Mayas para suspender lasoperaciones mineras.

SOLICITUD DE ACCIÓN: Abajo se encuentra la carta elaborada por las comunidades Mayas y organizaciones que las soportan. Solicitamos su apoyo y su solidaridad:hay dos maneras de apoyar

INDIVIDUALES: Favorde leer, firmar y mandar la carta al Presidente de la República de Guatemalapara demostrar su solidaridad con el deseo de las comunidades Mayas desuspender las operaciones mineras (correoelectrónico del Presidente incluido).

ORGANIZACIONES: Favor de mandar el nombre y información de su organización/grupo/sindicato/iglesiaa: y ANTES DEL 2 DE ABRIL 2010

Mr. Álvaro Colom

President of theRepublic of Guatemala[1] <#_ftn1>

Secretary of SocialCommunication of the Presidency

PalacioNacional De La Cultura, 6ª aveniday 6ª calle zona 1. Guatemala. Guatemala. 1er. Nivel, ala Poniente Sala 16. Oficina: (502) 2251-4144, 2339-2501al 04.

Dr. Rafael Espada

Vice-President ofthe Republic of Guatemala[2] <#_ftn2>

6ta. Avenida4-19, zona 1, Casa Presidencial, Puerta Norte Guatemala, Centroamérica 01001
PBX: (502) 2321-2121[3] <#_ftn3>

March 2010

Mr. President andMr. Vice-President:

Re: Implementation of ILO Committee of Experts'Recommendations

The signatories ofthis letter work for the protection of human rights, and write to you regardingthe situation of Indigenous Peoples in Guatemala. In particular, we write torequest the Government's compliance with the recommendations of the Committeeof Experts of the International Labor Organization (ILO) regarding theprotection of indigenous peoples affected by the authorization of miningactivities, as well as compliance with the Constitutional Petition presentedMarch 2, 2010 to the Secretary General of the Republic[4] <#_ftn4> , which executes the recommendations of theCommittee of Experts.

As you know, the Committeeof Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations of theInternational Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations, recentlypublished its 2009 report[5] <#_ftn5> . The ILO Committee of Experts is an executive body that carries outindependent technical reviews of the national practice of States' compliancewith international obligations that are part of ratified ILO conventions. Inthis undertaking, it evaluates the information sent by States, employees, andworkers, creating recommendations to guarantee effective compliance with theconventions.

The Committee ofExperts evaluated the case of San Juan Sacatepequez and the cement companyworking there. It also looked at the situation of land and salaries, coordinatedactions and systematic participation of indigenous peoples, and the legislationon consultation and participation. In addition, it examined the situation ofindigenous communities and lack of consultation regarding the mining licensegiven to Montana Exploradora, S.A., subsidiary of Canadian mining companyGoldcorp, Inc.

In the case of SanJuan Sacatepequez, the Committee calls to the attention of the Government thatindigenous peoples have the right to be consulted every time that actions that directlyaffect them are planned. This right is clearly established in the Conventionregardless of whether it is reflected in any national legislation.Additionally, the Committee notes that it is the Government that has theobligation to insure that indigenous peoples are consulted according to the Conventionand not according to the practices of private enterprises.

Hence, the Committeeurges the government to:

i) Alignthe existing legislation, such as the Mining Law, with Articles 6, 7 and 15 ofthe Convention

ii) Adoptwithout delay all of the necessary means to engage in a constructive dialoguein good faith among all interested parties under the requirements provided inArticle 6 of the Convention, which allows for seeking appropriate solutions tocases in a climate of mutual trust and respect, and taking into account theobligation of the State to guarantee the social, cultural and economicintegrity of indigenous peoples according to the spirit of the Convention, and

iii) Theimmediate suspension of the alleged activities while this dialogue is takingplace; and an evaluation, with the participation of the interested populations,of the social, spiritual, cultural and environmental impacts of the plannedactivities, and of the extentto which the interests of indigenous peoples would be harmed, according to theprovisions for Articles 7 and 15 of the Convention.

The Committee ofExperts also urges the Government to take all necessary measuresto ensure the establishment of appropriate mechanisms for consultation andparticipation as mentioned in the Convention, taking into consideration theCommittee's general observation in 2008 and providing detailed information inthis regard. The Committee reminds the Government that it can request thetechnical assistance of the ILO and requests the Government to provide detailedinformation on the measures it intends to use to adopt and implementlegislation on consultation. Please also provide information on the practicalapplication of Article 26 of the Law of Urban and Rural Development Councils.

Regarding the mininglicenses granted to Montana Exploradora - Goldcorp Inc. in San Marcos, theCommittee has called to the attention of the government that the miningactivities should be subject to previous consultation which is contemplated inArticle 15, paragraph 2 of the Convention, together with the studies providedin Article 7, paragraph 3 of the Convention. As a result, the Committee, noting that the Government's report repeats theinformation previously presented, expressed its concern related to the lack ofprogress in this case subject to review and urges the Government to suspend theexploitation referred to until the studies outlined in Article 7, paragraph 3of the Convention are completed, as well as the prior consultation outlined inarticle 15, paragraph 2 of the Convention. We ask that detailed information begiven in these regards. In addition, the Committee requests the Government totake the necessary means to clarify the incidents which led to the death of acitizen during a protest against the installation of a cylinder destined forthe mine, and that it give detailed information thereon.

We await your positiveresponse towards the effective protection of the human rights of Mayancommunities in Guatemala and compliance with applicable international andnational laws.


[1] <#_ftnref>

[2] <#_ftnref>

[3] <#_ftnref>

[4] <#_ftnref> File 2010-620.

[5] <#_ftnref> Report can be found at


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