Mänskliga rättigheter/Human Rights

Ett alltför långt lidande

Den här artikeln sammanfattar mayafolkets kamp för rätten till självbestämmande i sina ursprungsterritorier och den guatemalanska statens användning av våld för att slå ned den. Jag ger exempel på fredliga protester och rop på respekt som har resulterat i död och tårar. Här får ni också höra röster från flera kvinnor som står i frontledet i försvaret för jorden, territorierna och livet. En av dem är fredspristagaren Rigoberta Menchú.

”Yolanda Oquelí har en kula som hon för alltid kommer att bära i sin kropp, men står fortfarande i främsta ledet för urbefolkningens rättigheter. Regeringen har i sin strävan efter acceptans för pågående investeringsprojekt tagit till våld. Fredliga demonstranter har dödats och situationen beskrivs som den värsta sedan inbördeskriget.

Det sitter kvinnor på marken och ber och sjunger med radband i händerna. Framför står kravallutrustad polis i hundratal. Kvinnorna, barnen och längst bak männen som sedan två år genomför fredliga protester utanför gruvprojektet El Tambor i La Puya, Guatemala, hoppas, som så många gånger tidigare, att kunna stoppa företaget från att ta in tunga maskiner i området.”

Läs hela artikeln, som publicerades i Feministiskt perspektiv nr 24, här: Fempers24_Ett_alltfor_langt_lidande


Social Conflicts Escalate around Hydroelectric Projects in Guatemala

Social Conflicts Escalate around Hydroelectric Projects in Guatemala

The CPO’s Lolita Chávez pointed out during the press conference that the indigenous communities have acted peacefully and democratically through collective participation in order to build up and strengthen the community organization and resistance in defending their ancestral territories and way of living. “We ask the international community to support the Mayan people of Guatemala in our fight for dignity and our lives,” said Chávez.

Read the article: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/guatemala-archives-33/4857-social-conflicts-escalate-around-hydroelectric-projects-in-guatemala

Mayakvinnornas kamp är allas kamp

Lolita Chávez, maya quiché, feminist och människorättsförsvarare är talesperson i frågor som rör krav på kvinnors och ursprungsbefolkningens rättigheter. Hon hämtar inspiration i mayakosmovisionen. Jag har talat med henne för Feministiskt perspektivs serie Globala feminismer.




Om zapatistkvinnorna i Feministiskt perspektiv

Mural Caracol Oventic

I fredags publicerades min första artikel, Zapatistkvinnornas utmaning för stadsfeminismen, i serien Globala feminismer i Feministiskt perspektiv. Det var en fantastiskt lärorik och spännande resa att leta bakgrundsinformation, bekanta mig med flera betydelsefulla mexikanska feminister och inte minst att följa upp hur zapatisterna har fortsatt att bygga autonomi i Chiapas sedan jag besökte några av byarna 2008.


Maya people seek to end the Controversy

By Christin Sandberg, Guatemala

On the third of September, 2013, the Mayan People’s Council (CPO) filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Since then there has been nothing but silence.

The IACHR is the ultimate resource for the Mayan communities claiming the national mining law to be unconstitutional ignoring both national constitution and international conventions protecting the indigenous communities’ right to prior consultation before their collective land is being sold out to transnational mining companies in the name of development.

Mining under your skin
The mining activity affects directly the lives of the indigenous people. The actual mining extraction enters into their croplands, gardens and houses and ends contaminating the drinking and washing water, not only for individual families, but for whole communities.

Worst, say many community inhabitants, is the social disintegration caused by division between those who get work opportunities, those who do not dare to express their opinion and those who get organized in order to protect the cultural and traditional patterns of life of Mayan communities based on the close relation to mother earth.

The conscience is very high. People know exactly what this is about. Mining is nothing new, but the increasing activity is very aggressive and the consequences of the mining activity are severe. Many Mayan women testify about how it actually gets into their body. How they can feel and breath it.

As a result many of these women are in the front rows protesting against the mining activity. And not because they are reactionaries, but just because they see how it’s penetrating every layer of society in a subtle way causing discomfort, fear and unrest.

Repeating controversy from 1550
In 1550 in the Colegio de San Gregorio in Spain, the Valladolid debate took place. It was a debate concerning the natives of the new world and how they were treated, if they had soul or not. Bishop, Fray Bartolome de las Casas and the scholar Juan Ginés de Sepulveda, represented the opposing views. It has since been called the controversy and is the first known lawsuit in favor of the indigenous people.

Sepulveda argued that there are naturally inferior cultures and therefore the Indians should be punished and obey the conquerors. Two other arguments he presented were that the Indians were barbarians since they killed among themselves and that the slavery was an effective method of converting Indians to Christianity.

Fray Bartolome, on the other hand, argued that the conquest and the enforcement to submission was illegal. He also claimed that every killing should be treated as an act of violence and therefore subject to trial.

Today, the same arguments but dressed in other words according to today´s context are being repeated in legal sessions in Guatemala.

On Tuesday 8th, 2014, representatives of the Mayan Quiché Council presented a petition in front of the Constitutional Court, the highest court in Guatemala claiming that the Direction of the Ministry of Energy and Mining had violated their collective rights to prior consultation before issuing mining licenses in their territory.

When the lawyer representing the third party, the mining company Entre Mares de Guatemala S.A, subsidiary to Goldcorp, went through his argument they resemble those heard 500 years ago. First claiming the community authorities who had filed the petition do not have legal status and therefore is not a legitimate party in the legal process. This way he tried to discredit the whole indigenous community through its representatives.

The same lawyer also referred to the Pope saying that Benedictus XVI once wrote, making reference to a paper, that every people trying to decline development, shall not be listened to. Understood, they do not know what their best interests are. He also gave the public some, until date unheard of, statistics in general terms, saying that one of the municipalities where the country’s biggest goldmine operates is the most flourishing in the country.

Exclusion the best method
Also, it is a fact that the arguments refer to norms within a system of which the Mayan communities are not a part and have no legal or any other representation within. So to speak, more than half of Guatemala’s population has no actual say. This is the official version of Guatemalan democracy.

The petition filed to the IACHR has a 500 years heritage. The Maya people are survivors and patient, but isn’t it time for a change?


The article has been published for The Mayan People’s Council


Towards practical application of international conventions

Monday March 24, 2014: The Mayan Council of Sipakapa claimed their collective rights and demanded the cancelation of the mining license, the Chocoyos, in a public hearing in an appellate court in Guatemala City.

– We now demand, with all due respect to this court representing our country, Guatemala, that our rights as an indigenous community – Maya and Sipakapense – will be respected, declared Timoteo Vásquez from the Sipakapense Council.

Sipakapa is a municipality in the northwestern highlands of San Marcos, counting with 18 000 inhabitants and a property title guaranteeing the collective ownership of their territory.

It was on the 30 of april, 2012, that the General Director of the Ministry of Energy and Mines granted the mining company Entre Mares S.A. a prospecting permit without prior information and consultation with the people of Sipakapa. Since then, Entre Mares has the permission to study, analyze and evaluate any metals such as, gold, silver, nickel, cobalt, lead and zinc within the region.

– We have sought legal ways because we want to avoid other regrettable actions, like what happened a while ago when a peaceful demonstration was conducted, and one of the workers from the mining company reached out for his weapon and hurt one of our friends, recounted Vásquez from the Maya Sipakapense Council.

No representative from the Ministry of Energy and Mines was present in court, whereas the mining company, Entre Mares S.A., was represented by the lawyer Ignacio Andrade, who declared:

– The party that filed the appeal does not fulfill two mandatory requirements, there is no direct injury, meaning that the appealing party is not affected as individuals, and there is lack of finality, which means that there were mistakes made in the administrative procedures prior to filing the appeal.

The attorney, Judith Rodas Morales from the Public Ministry, stated:
– We consider violations of article 66 of the Constitution, regulating the recognition of the indigenous people, the respect for their rights and the ILO Convention 169, regulation the right to be consulted. More specifically, the government made an administrative decision that harmed the interests of the indigenous communities. It was also a decision violating the right to prior consultation.

In 2005, the Sipakapense people organized one of the first community consultations on mining in Guatemala. In this 99 per cent of the population agreed not to accept any mining prospecting or exploitation in their territory.

– The people of our community is waiting for this resolution. In the meantime, we will have to continue struggling, because this is about our home, where we eat and from where we get our food in order to survive. For us, Montana (the mining company) does not represent development, said Timoteo Vásquez from the Sipakapense Council.

Vásquez concluded:
– We rely on you (the judges) and that you will give a verdict based on the values of justice, truth and equality.

The appeal filed by the Sipakapense community is one of seven appeals filed by different Mayan groups articulated through the Mayan People Council (CPO), all claiming violations of the indigenous communities’ collective rights. More specifically the right to participation, consent and consultation on any issues regarding mining activities in their ancestral collective territory.

The first appeal was filed in October 2012, and so far five of seven have reached a sentence in the first court, three in favor. All sentences have been appealed. The Ministry of Energy and Mines allege that they obey the law that declare as national urgency to attract investments to the country. The corporations in their turn allege that they have fulfilled all legal requirements to obtain the licenses and therefore must not loose them.

There has been a halt in approval of licenses and since June, 2013 the Ministry of Energy and Mining has not approved one license.

– There are 390 licenses awaiting approval. The country counts with 107 prospecting permissions and 21 licenses for exploitation up to date, says Teresa Fuentes, from the legal commission of CPO, who keeps track on the licenses registered at the Ministry of Energy and Mines, demanding statistics on a monthly basis.

The number of licenses accounts for those concerned with chemical extraction of metals.

Fuentes continues:
– On one hand there is no movement, but on the other hand we know that the mining companies complete their environmental studies and other procedures in order to fulfill all requirements in the process, continues Fuentes.

– So there is no doubt the permissions will be granted at some point, we just do not know when.

Apart from the appeals filed in national courts, the CPO filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in September 2013, alleging that the country’s mining law was approved without their prior consultation as required under both national constitution and international law.

– In 2012 we filed a petition to the Constitutional Court (CC) arguing that the mining law is unconstitutional. The CC did not agree and therefore the IACHR is our last resort to halt violations of our rights as a result of current mining legislation, says Udiel Miranda, legal coordinator for CPO.

CPO states that the legal actions taken over the past two years are aimed at ensuring that the state laws comply with international conventions.

– We have identified that many of our rights as indigenous communities, that have been violated, actually are protected both by our constitution and by international conventions. Now we want to ensure they are put into practice too, and if not, we have to change the rules of the game in order to make sure our rights are respected, says Nim Sanik, member of the coordination of CPO.

CPO is the political articulation of the Mayan people, based on the legitimate and organized Mayan authorities and institutions. CPO articulates the decisions and the direction for political actions in defense of the Mayan people’s territory and in defense of their rights. Priority is given to make sure that international conventions, such as ILO Convention 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, are applied in Guatemala.


Article published on cpo.org.gt del Consejo del Pueblo Maya