Friday, November 5, 2010

El Salvador Lodges Complaint with the Guatemalan Government About Attack on Environmental Activists

For the second time in the last three months members of the Center of Investigations into Investment and Commerce (CEICOM), an active member of the National Roundtable against Mineral Mining, have been kidnapped, robbed and left at an abandoned farm while traveling in Guatemala. In both instances the anti-mining activists were traveling to events in Guatemala related to the Cerro Blanco mine.
The Cerro Blanco mine, owned and to be operated by a Guatemalan subsidiary of Gold Corp, is located less than 10 miles from the Salvadoran border in the Guatemalan municipality of Jutiapa. If the project is allowed to continue it poses the risk of contaminated the Guija Lake which is one of the main sources of the Lempa River. The Lempa River supplies water to 65% of El Salvador.
CEICOM has been a leader in forming relationships with local resistance to the mine in Guatemala. During the most recent case they were accompanied by two journalists from the Salvadoran TV station Channel 10.
Picture credit: Diario Co-Latino
Written by Angélica Cárcamo -- Translated by USESSC Staff 
SAN SALVADOR - Three Salvadoran environmentalists from Center of Investigations into Investment and Commerce (CEICOM) and two journalist from Channel 10 were kidnapped and later left on an abandoned farm on October 28th, while they were traveling to the capital of Guatemala. 
According to the CEICOM representative, Edgardo Mira, they were traveling to the watch the questioning of current officials in the Alvaro Colom government about the mining project Cerro Blanco owned by the company Entremares in Guatemala, a subsidiary of the Canadian company Gold Corp.
Mira mentioned that the environmentalists, along with the journalists, were stopped around 7 pm at kilometer 43 of the highway to Guatemala City where they were intercepted by a group of individuals dressed as police officers who took their belongings and then after searching them left them in a nearby farm, with their hands tied and having been threatened that they shouldn’t go to the police.
We believe that the government should act immediately and watch over the dignity and security of the Salvadorans that travel in the sister republic of Guatemala,” said the CEICOM representative.
This is not the first time that environmentalists have been victims of violations to their freedoms. On June 30th, a group from CEICOM was traveling to Guatemala when hooded suspects stole their belongings, tied them up and left them on another farm.
It is clear to us that this is directly related to the first case” added Mira.
The Ministry of Foreign Relations will send a diplomatic letter to Guatemala
For his part, the Minister of Foreign Relations from El Salvador, Hugo Martínez, committed on Wednesday afternoon to sending a diplomatic letter to the Guatemalan government so that the case is investigated.
Today in the afternoon we are sending a diplomatic letter to the government of Guatemala, by means of their Ministry of Foreign Relations, asking an expedited investigation into the cases,” mentioned the Minister.
Martinez added that this is “a second case that could be part of a pattern of actions,” and for this reason he offered security to members of CEICOM when they decided to travel to Guatemala again.
The official also said that he will set up a meeting in the upcoming days with the National Roundtable against Mineral Mining to listen to their opinions with respect to the case of the Cerro Blanco mine in Guatemala.
For CEICOM the acts of violence against their representatives are related to the work they do against the Cerro Blanco project.
Gold Corp is currently executing the Cerro Blanco project, located in the municipality of Asunción Mita (Guatemala) and according to environmentalists like CEICOM and the National Roundtable against Mineral Mining, the mining project in this region would contaminate the Ostua River and the Guija Lake, both bodies of water shared by El Salvador and Guatemala.

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