Over 90 organizations from Guatemala and globally have signed this letter to Guatemalan officials expressing concern for threats, violations of human rights and impunity in relation to Xinka defenders. Read the letter below.
TO: María Consuelo Porras, Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office
Hilda Pineda, Prosecutor of the Human Rights Section of the Public Prosecutor’s Office
Edgar Horacio Portillo Morales, Executive Director of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights (COPREDEH)
Augusto Jordán Rodas Hernández, Human Rights Ombudsperson
Ruth del Valle, Human Rights Ombudsperson’s Office, Advocate for journalists and human rights defenders
Alberto Pimentel Mata, Minister of Energy and Mines
CC: Ambassador Rita Rudaitis-Renaud, Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala
Stefano Gatto, European Union Delegation, (Jennifer Echeverría, focus on human rights)
Ambassador Georges de La Roche Du Ronzet, Guatemalan Ambassador to Canada
Mary Nameth Nameth, Political Affairs Officer, US Embassy
Mika Kanervavuori, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Representative in Guatemala
The undersigned organizations express our deep concern regarding the impunity for serious acts of human rights violations against defenders in Indigenous Xinka communities.
In the context of COVID-19 and the current state of emergency declared by the Guatemalan government, we are extremely alarmed about the situation that human rights defenders face, especially given an increase in defamation, threats, and criminalization of members of the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa, and Jutiapa.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have observed an increase in defamation of leaders of the resistance on social media. We have also identified acts of intimidation by municipal authorities accompanied by military personnel in the community of San Supo in the municipality of Mataquescuintla. Also, in the first quarter of 2020, there were 8 cases of criminalization against defenders from Santa Maria Xalapan who are being accused of aggravated usurpation.
Similarly, we express our concern about the threats and acts of intimidation against the legal representative of the Xinka People’s Parliament, Quelvin Otoniel Jiménez Villalta, who has been the subject of false accusations since 2017. As a result of these threats, since 2019, he has had precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
In addition, we denounce the delay in the extradition of former head of security for Tahoe Resources, Alberto Rotondo, who has yet to come before the Guatemalan justice system for ordering private security guards to fire at people who were protesting peacefully against the Escobal mine in April 2013, injuring seven.
Other events that remain in impunity since 2014 include the murder of environmental activist, Topacio Reynoso Pacheco, and attacks against her father, Alex Reynoso.
These cases exemplify the risks to human rights defenders in the region.
We ask the Attorney General’s office to expedite a full and impartial investigation into the murder of Topacio Reynoso Pacheco and the attacks against Alex Reynoso, granting the necessary resources to bring those responsible to justice.
We call upon the Public Prosecutor’s office to take all necessary measures to investigate the threats and defamation against human rights defenders who are part of the Peaceful Resistance of Jutiapa, Jalapa, and Santa Rosa; events which have already been denounced to the PP office.
We urge the Human Rights Ombudsperson to carry out efforts within his mandate to ensure that the rights and protection of the communities are guaranteed, especially the right to self-determination, consent and free, prior, and informed consultation in good faith and in a culturally appropriate manner for the Xinka People and their right to exercise their human rights.
We ask the Guatemalan state and Pan American Silver to respect international standards. In particular, the consultation process should be free and the rights of Indigenous Peoples be respected, including to self-determination and free, prior, and informed consent and consultation according to the International Labour Organization’s Convention 169, such that their participation must not be limited or constrained.
We call on the national and international community to pay special attention in the context of COVID-19 to the risks that Xinka communities face, as well as defenders of the Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa, and Jutiapa who are demonstrating peacefully in defense of life.
We stand in solidarity with the Xinka People and human rights defenders of the Peaceful Resistance of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa who work for the respect and fulfillment of their fundamental rights.
Asociación para el Mejoramiento Habitacional de Guatemala MEJORHA
Asociación Pop No’j
Asociación B’elejeb’ Tz’i’
Asociación de Investigación y Especialización sobre Temas Iberoamericanos (AIETI)
Asociación de Entidades de Desarrollo y de Servicio No Gubernamentales de Guatemala -ASINDES-
Asamblea Departamental por la Defensa de los pueblos de Huehuetenango (ADH)
Asociación de comunidades para el desarrollo defensa de la tierra y los recursos naturales ACODET
Asociación para la Justicia y Reconciliación (AJR)
Alliance for Global Justice
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network
Breaking The Silence-Rompiendo El Silencio
Colectivo agroecologico aj mayon
Coordinadora Nacional de Mujeres de pueblos Originarios de Chile Indi
Comité por la liberación de milagro sala.
Colectivo Voces Ecológicas
Coban ixcan y uspantan
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
Consejo del Pueblo Maya -CPO-
Coordinadora Ni Una Sola Mina
Canadian Jesuits International
Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL)
Defensa y Conservacion Ecologica de Intag (DECOIN)
Eesti Metsa Abiks (Estonian Forest Aid)
Environmental Justice Atlas (EJAtlas)
Federación de Organizaciones Civiles y Asociaciones para el Hábitat Popular FODHAP
Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland
Guatemala Research Group, University of Northern BC (Canada)
Guatemala Human Rights Commission GHRC
Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law
Guatemala Partnership Committee, Congregational Church of Needham (Needham, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)
Human Rights Defenders Project
H. I. J. O. S. Guatemala
Institute for Policy Studies – Global Economy Program
Indigenous Environmental Network
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Kickapoo/Guatemala Accompaniment Project
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Loq’ Laj Ch’och’ / SAgrada Tierra
Montreal Elders for Environmental Justice Canada
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo extractivo Minero -M4-
Mining Justice Action Committee
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
Mining Justice Alliance
Movimiento por la Paz – MPDL
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
Nicaragua Center for Community Action
New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA-Chile
OCMAL Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina
Plataforma Canadá guatemaltecas y Guatemaltecos Exiliados por Terrorismo de Estado
Public Service Alliance of Canada, BC Region
Protection International Mesoamérica
Plataforma Urbana Guatemala
Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala
PARLAMENTO DEL PUEBLO XINKA
Red Muqui – Perú
Red Mexicana de Afectadas/os por la Minería (REMA)
Si a la Vida, No a la Minería
Salva la Selva
Social Justice Connection
Students for Mining Justice, University of British Columbia
Save Our Sperrins (SOS)
Students for Mining Justice
The Gaia Foundation
Todos por Guatemala/All for Guatemala Canada
Van Dam Scientific