A Guatemalan protestor was beaten and burnt to death after he dared to speak against the Marlin gold mine, which is owned by Canadian company GoldCorp. The man, who was a member of an indigenous tribe, was reportedly killed by workers from the company who doused him with petrol before throwing a lit match onto his body.
This is not the first controversy that has hit the Marlin mine. When it was first constructed, there were multiple protests from local farmers.
In December 2004, an indigenous group from Sipakapa began a 42-day blockade of Glamis trucks passing through their community on the way to the mine, but the blockade was ended when more than 1,200 soldiers and 400 police agents began firing at unarmed protesters, resulting in the death of an indigenous farmer, Raul Casto Bocel.
This latest death is part of a decade-long struggle for local communities to protect themselves from the mine and its impact on the region. The stories are shocking with tales of intimidation, threats, social division, violence, bribery and corruption of local authorities, destruction and contamination of water sources, not to mention forest clearing and appalling health impacts such as malnutrition and skin diseases.
The company running Marlin is Montana Exploradora, a subsidiary of Goldcorp, based in Vancouver, Canada. The Guardian asked them to comment on allegations that company workers had been responsible for setting fire to the protestor and received this response from the Communications Director, Christine Marks:
The allegation is patently false. Goldcorp and its subsidiary Montana Exploradora do not condone violence of any kind, against anyone. We respect the right of all individuals to voice their opinions respectfully. Goldcorp and Montana Exploradora have adopted the internationally-recognized standards of “Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.” These standards provide the guidelines for security policies which include and demonstrate respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. All of our security personnel are trained in the ‘Voluntary Principles’, as are the local members of the Guatemalan police and army.
When asked about other controversies, The Guardian was directed to a website where “you’ll find common myths that have been exposed repeatedly as falsehoods.” I think the Guatemalan locals would disagree.
Via The Guardian
Images via Movimiento M4