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A study carried out by Susana Caxaj, a nurse, on the impacts of Canadian mining corporation Goldcorp on the people’s health in San Miguel Ixtahuacán municipality in Guatemala was the starting point that led to the Health Tribunal held last weekend in that municipality.
The international people’s tribunal, which was not legally binding, was organized by several Guatemalan, Central American and Mexican organizations and social networks. The aim was to expose the impacts of Marlin mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, of “San Martín” mine in Valle de Siria, Honduras and “Los Filos” mine in Guerrero state, Mexico.
Real World Radio’s collaborator Grace Garcia interviewed Caxaj during the tribunal. She said there were no previous health studies in San Miguel Ixtahuacán that analyzed the impacts of Goldcorp on the local residents. The researcher said the studies were necessary also to provide scientific ground to the claims made by the residents.
So Caxaj felt the urge to investigate, to speak with the people. She focused her study on psychological health, so having a conversation with the residents to understand subjective data was essential. She spoke with 54 men and women in 14 villages. There is a “need to combine science with politics”, she emphasized.
The nurse told Real World Radio that the people were complaining about “the changes in the social environment”, of growing violence against women, more alcoholism, problems within the families that had never happened before. Mining has been a “great force that has exacerbated” the already existing problems in the communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, such as poverty, but it has also created new social conflicts.
Caxaj said she detected psychological problems based on environmental issues such as the lack of water. “Health cannot be separated from the people’s political context” said the doctor, who reclaimed the people’s rigth to health.
Photo: Grace García.
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