This statement was read at Glamis Gold's Annual General Meeting. It was written by community representatives from regions of Honduras and Guatemala affected by the company's mining operations. They were in Canada on an educational speaking tour with Rights Action.
Glamis Gold Ltd. Investors and Shareholders:
We, as inhabitants communities directly affected by Glamis Gold's mining activities in Honduras and Guatemala, write this letter to you to inform you of the grave consequences your investments are having. Glamis Gold arrived in our Communities promising development and progress. However, the experiences of our communities clearly demonstrate that the mining activity does not bring development neither to the local population, nor to the country.
Multinational companies such as Glamis Gold always state that they are respecting the laws of the countries in which they operate, but in Honduras and Guatemala they are operating within a corrupt system, profiting from systematic impunity and a lack of real democracy. Communities were never consulted and when we have organized our own consultation processes according to valid legal instruments and have expressed our rejection of mining activities, the government has responded with repression and militarization, defending the imposed mining projects.
In the Siria Valley in Honduras, the negative impacts of the San Martin mine are extensive. Environmental destruction, implicit in open pit mining, continues to damage the ecosystems in the region - forests, water sources, flora and fauna. Cyanide and heavy metal contamination of several water sources in the area has been confirmed, even by studies carried out by governmental institutions. There are communities that have drunk water with high concentrations of arsenic, mercury and lead for years, while other communities must travel to another municipality in order to obtain enough clean water for domestic use.
The water shortage caused by the enormous quantity of this vital resource required for the San Martin mine's operations has destroyed the Siria Valley's local economy, traditionally based on agriculture and cattle. In turn, this has caused a wave of immigration to the United States, separating and dividing families and community life.
Since the mine begun its operations, the local population has been living a health crisis in the region. Independent medical brigades have been documenting the ongoing rise in dermatological, respiratory, ophthalmologic, gastro-intestinal and other diseases. A significant percentage of the children and the adult population of the communities closest to the mine suffer from chronic illnesses, with no adequate diagnostic or treatment.
In the municipalities of Sipakapa and San Miguel Ixtahuacan, in San Marcos, Guatemala, where the Marlin mine operates, we understand the problems facing mining-affected communities in Honduras and we continue to express our concern for and opposition to mining activity. We are already experiencing serious social, cultural and spiritual impacts, graver still considering that in the affected region the vast majority of the population is indigenous. Glamis Gold has sown conflict and insecurity in our communities, tearing apart the social and cultural fabric of our Maya Sipakapense and Mam indigenous peoples.
We have already seen two indigenous people murdered in relation to the Marlin mine: Raul Castro Bocel by police bullets in Sololá and Álvaro Benigno Sánchez by a private security agent from the Golan Group, contracted by Glamis Gold in San Marcos. Furthermore, militarization and repression at the local level has become part of everyday life since the arrival of the mining company, creating tension and a lack of trust. Armed men intimidate our communities and harass the women and girls. Several cases of rape by mining company workers have occurred, but go unreported because of the pervasive climate of fear. The increased competition for water has also generated conflict.
In response to this very real situation that we face every day in our communities, we have attempted to make our voices heard by every means possible. As all doors have been closed in our faces, as affected communities we have been forced to resort to community-initiated decision-making processes and direct actions, such as those that have been taking place continually over the past two weeks in the Siria Valley in Honduras. The recent news that Honduran Glamis Gold subsidiary Entre Mares' property in the country has been mortgaged for a 30 million dollar loan from a bank in the Bahamas raises once again the threat that the company may simply declare bankruptcy in order to abandon the San Martin mine, without any mitigation or reparations and without fulfilling basic commitments, such as legally registering the land and houses of the community of San José de Palo Ralo, coerced into relocating in order to make way for the mine.
In the Siria Valley in Honduras, as affected communities and as the Siria Valley Regional Environmental Committee, we are demanding the immediate closure of the San Martin mine, along with integral reparations and mitigation. Even as you meet as shareholders, actions, investigations and media coverage continue in Honduras, concerning the devastating impacts of your investments.
In Sipakapa, Guatemala, we demand the respect of the results of our legitimate community consultation process. On June 18, 2005, based on municipal, national and international laws, the communities of Sipakapa and community authorities held consultations to determine whether the population wanted mining activity in their territory or not. In 11 of the 13 community sectors of Sipakapa, the people expressed their overwhelming rejection of mining activity. Thus, we demand that the Marlin mine be shut down immediately.
It is clearly impossible to explain the consequences of mining activity in the Siria Valley and San Marcos and our positions and demands regarding the San Martin and Marlin mines in such a short time and space. We feel that it is your responsibility as shareholders to inform yourselves of the devastating impacts of your investments in our communities and to take an appropriate course of action.
Carlos Amador, El Porvenir, Francisco Morazan, Honduras
Juan Tema, Sipakapa, San Marcos, Guatemala
Toronto, Canada, May 3, 2006