13 de julio de 2012 | Entrevistas | Tribunal Internacional Popular de Salud - Guatemala | Anti-neoliberalismo | Derechos humanos | Industrias extractivas
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Several communities from Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras, which have been affected by Canadian mining corporation Goldcorp show similar symptoms: people with skin and eye diseases, breathing problems, metals found in blood, cancer, preterm births and malformations.
Doctors from different countries have linked these health problems with mining or environmental damages caused by the mining industry. The Peoples’ International Health Tribunal will session next weekend in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Guatemala, in order to expose Goldcorp’s abuses in Latin America.
The communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacan (where Marlin mine is located), of Valle del Siria, in Honduras (where San Martin mine is located) and of Carrizalillo, in the Mexican state of Guerrero (where Los Filos mine is located) will talk about the health and environmental impacts of Goldcorp in their territories.
Mexican leader Gustavo Lozano, one of the organizers of the Health Tribunal, told Real World Radio that the Tribunal will not only focus on physical health. He is a member of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA), which is also part of the Mesoamerican Movement Against the Mining Extractive Model (M4). He said the Tribunal will also focus on community health. “A mine divides communities” because some people support the mines while others reject them, so this causes confrontation, “the social tissue is broken”.
The leader also said that in San Miguel Ixtahuacán “there is prostitution now, that did not exist before. There is a more extreme male chauvinistic violence. Alcoholism has increased as well”. Big projects in small communities often create activities and habits around them – that were alien to the place before – as a result of the arrival of capital and people from outside the region.
Lozano added “psycho-social health” as a third aspect of how Goldcorp affects local communities. He said this is “related to the people’s fear of what will become of their lives. The community members lose control of their lives when the mining company arrives. It is serious because people no longer know what to expect”.
The Health Tribunal was called by the Network of Solidarity with the Communities Affected by Mining Injustices (MISN), M4, Frente de Defensa Miguelense (FREDEMI), The Kolol Qnan Tx’otx’ Committee of San Miguel Ixtahuacán and the International Coalition Against Unjust Mining in Guatemala (CAMIGUA). Nearly 500 people are expected to participate including members of communities affected by mining from several Latin American countries, scientists, academics, spiritual leaders, journalists and human rights advocates.
Real World Radio asked Lozano why they target Goldcorp at the Tribunal. One of the reasons is that the company has nearly 20 projects in many Latin American countries and Canada. But it also “has a very bad record in the communities where it operates” said Lozano.
“We have also noted that the company has bribed local authorities to carry out its operations, it fails to comply with the laws of the countries and it causes terrible damages”. The leader added that the Canadian corporation fails to respect and enforce prior and informed consultation processes, a right that should be guaranteed to the local communities before the mining project starts operating.
The governments do not seem to help, according to Lozano. “Our states are lenient towards peoples’ rights violations”, said the Mexican leader.
The Health Tribunal is not legally binding. It is a political and ethical tribunal which has compiled information about Goldcorp’s impacts in the communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, Valle de Siria and Carrizalillo. However, its organizers hope that this information and the judges’ ruling over the weekend will help to file binding legal actions in Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.
Finally, Lozano highlighted that the Tribunal has the overall objective of “pressuring the governments through the Jury’s verdict so that they will guarantee the enforcement of the communities’ human rights, health, the right to self-determination of indigenous peoples and environmental protection”.
It will also be useful to “draw media attention and to raise awareness about what is happening in these communities in order to warn others” that are under threat of the potential installation of a mine, because they need to organize beforehand.
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