Thousands demonstrate outside the Guatemalan Constitutional Court

Organizations Demand Justice for Murder of Member of Peaceful Resistance to Tahoe Resources' Project in Guatemala

Jen Moore Jennifer Moore worked as MiningWatch's first full-time Latin America Program Coordinator from 2010 to 2018.

Over sixty international organizations wrote the Guatemalan Attorney General this week expressing deep sadness and concern following the brutal murder of Ángel Estuardo Quevedo on July 12, 2018, an active a member of the Peaceful Resistance movement of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa against Tahoe Resources' Escobal project in southeastern Guatemala. 

August 1, 2018

Dear Attorney General María Consuelo Porras Argueta:

We are writing to express our profound sadness and concern at the killing of human rights defender Ángel Estuardo Quevedo in the municipality of Santa Rosa de Lima on July 12, 2018. Estuardo resided in the municipality of Casillas and was a member of the Peaceful Resistance movement of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa. He played an important role in making visible broad community opposition to the Escobal silver mine, a Canadian mining investment project, owned by Tahoe Resources. Estuardo and his fellow human rights defenders have worked tirelessly and at great personal risk to raise awareness about the ways in which Tahoe and its subsidiary Minera San Rafael have violated their human rights.

Before his death, Estuardo spent considerable time in Guatemala City at the peaceful resistance camp set up outside the Constitutional Court to inform the public about the violations of Indigenous rights committed by Tahoe and Minera San Rafael. He was awaiting a crucial Constitutional Court ruling about the future of the Escobal mine when he was killed. Estuardo lived and died as a courageous human rights defender and was part of a community still facing terrible risks to stand up for their rights.

We lament the fact that the State of Guatemala did not protect Estuardo, who had received threats in the days leading up to his murder. He sadly joins a growing list of human rights defenders killed in Guatemala since the beginning of 2018 for standing up to protect land, water and the environment.

We call on you to thoroughly, impartially and promptly investigate his murder. As outlined in the newly adopted General Instruction to investigate crimes against human rights defenders , your investigation should include the theory that the attack was in retaliation for his legitimate human rights defence work.

In order to show that Guatemala is serious about ending the ongoing wave of killings of human rights defenders, we strongly urge you to:

  • publicly condemn the murder of Ángel Estuardo Quevedo
  • publicly insist that attacks, stigmatization, abuse, discrimination or the killing of human rights defenders anywhere in Guatemala will not be tolerated,
  • Arrest and bring to justice those responsible for his killing.

We also urge you to take appropriate measures, in accordance with the group’s wishes, to guarantee the safety of other members of the peaceful resistance movement of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa, who are facing increasing surveillance, intimidation and threats. Doing so will send a strong signal that the Guatemalan state recognizes the important and legitimate work of human rights defenders and could prevent further attacks.

As civil society organisations across Canada and the United States, we again raise our voices together to call on the Government of Guatemala to comply with its international obligations to protect human rights defenders and to take decisive action to prevent further violence against peaceful protesters.

Signed,

  1. Americas Policy Group (APG) of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation
  2. Amnesty International Canada - English Speaking Branch
  3. Amnesty International Canada - Francophone Branch
  4. Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN)
  5. BC CASA
  6. Canadian Jesuits international
  7. Casa Maria Catholic Worker
  8. Catalyst Project
  9. Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
  10. CoDevelopment Canada
  11. Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL)
  12. Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
  13. Cooperation Operation, Chicago
  14. Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project
  15. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW – STTP)
  16. Democratic Socialists of America, Salem Oregon
  17. Denver Justice and Peace Committee
  18. EarthNexus
  19. Earthworks
  20. Friends of Latin America
  21. Guatemala Partnership Committee, Congregational Church of Needham
  22. Guatemala Human Rights Commission - USA (GHRC) 
  23. International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Portland
  24. Inter Pares
  25. InterReligious Task Force on Central America
  26. Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission
  27. Justice Travel
  28. KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
  29. Kickapoo/Guatemala Accompaniment Project (KGAP)
  30. Lakes Area Group Organizing in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (LAGOS)
  31. Latin America Task Force of Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice
  32. Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
  33. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  34. MiningWatch Canada
  35. Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS)
  36. Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement
  37. Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
  38. Mining Justice Alliance
  39. Native American Films, Brooklyn
  40. Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
  41. New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project
  42. Nicaragua Center for Community Action (NICCA)
  43. Nobel Women’s Initiative
  44. Oberlin Students in Solidarity with Guatemala (OSSGUA)
  45. Oregon PeaceWorks
  46. Partners for Arlington and Guatemala (PAG)
  47. Pax Christi, Clinton Iowa
  48. Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
  49. Queers for Climate Change
  50. Rights Action
  51. Rose Haven, Portland
  52. Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment (SEPA)
  53. School of Living
  54. School of the Americas Watch, Los Angeles
  55. Sister Parish, Inc.
  56. Siti Maimunah, Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Indonesia
  57. St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA)
  58. Stuart Center for Mission, Educational Leadership & Technology
  59. Task Force on the Americas
  60. Westminster Presbyterian Church, Portland
  61. Workers World Portland
  62. Xun Biosphere Project

cc: Karolina Guay, Political Advisor of the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala His Excellency Luis E. Arreaga, US Ambassador to Guatemala His Excellency Carlos Humberto Jiménez Licona, Guatemalan Ambassador to Canada