Today, the 'Canada Honduras Delegation for Justice, Land and Life', including First Nations women leaders, lawyers, human rights and solidarity activists, had planned to visit Aura Minerals' San Andrés project in Copán, Honduras. They want to observe and document information that we have been hearing about for months from local community groups regarding the expansion of the company's San Andrés project and potential destruction of the local cemetery in the community of Azacualpa, as well as lack of fulfillment of other prior agreements.
On their way to visit the area this morning, however, an estimated 180 mine workers blocked the public road leading to Azacualpa, falsely alleging that the delegation wants to see the mine shut down. The demonstrators are reportedly armed with machetes, sticks and rocks. A local mine manager has also been observed at the projest, as well as a local reporter known to be highly partial to the company's position.
Police are present, including the chief of police for the area, but have not made any effort to move the demonstrators off the road and to ensure safe passage along the public throughway.
The regional delegate for the National Human Rights Commission has been called into mediate.
Who is really behind this protest? Is it the case that Aura Minerals does not want any international attention on this matter? Why?
Please take action right now to call Aura Minerals and the Ministry of Security in Honduras to urge them to allow the delegation and the Azacualpa Environmental Committee safe passage to the area affected by the San Andrés mine.
- Aura Minerals: (416) 649-1033 or info(at)auraminerals.com
- Ministry of Security, Julian Pacheco: (504) 2229-0003 or (504) 9456-3699
Also email the Canadian Embassy in Honduras to insist that they also use their diplomatic channels to guarantee the safety of the Canadian delegation and the local environmental committee, and call on Aura Minerals to desist from any and all efforts to prevent them from peacefully visiting the area in order to document what is taking place.
Please copy Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, on your email to the Embassy.
Shortly after posting this blog, we were notified that the chief of police and chief of the army for the department of Copán have told the delegation that they can now travel to the community with their accompaniment and that their safe departure will also be guaranteed. There are a number of soldiers and police patrols present. The delegation anticipates spending an hour visiting the local area.
After 5pm EST, the delegation reported having completed their visit to the community and that there was no longer anyone protesting when they left the area.
Please write to the company and the Canadian Embassy to express concern about the use of this sort of intimidation tactic to try to hinder international observation and documentation of local community complaints, while urging continued attention to ensure the safe return of the Delegation and such that the Environmental Committee not face any reprisals now that the delegation has left the area.