For Immediate Release
(Toronto) The Guatemalan Asociación Estoreña Para el Desarrollo Integral (AEPDI) and MiningWatch Canada are publicly denouncing Inco Ltd.’s mining concessions in Izabal, Guatemala as having been granted without consultation with the affected Q’eqchi’ Maya communities, in violation of the 1995 peace accords and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), ratified by Guatemala in 1996.
In the Peace Accord on Indigenous Identity and Rights signed in 1995, the Guatemalan government committed itself to the protection of indigenous lands, as well as upholding the guarantees contained in ILO 169.
Inco Ltd. owns 70% of the 384.4 km2 Niquegua concession in the municipalities of El Estor, Panzós and Cahabón. Inco was granted a 40-year concession under its subsidiary, Exmibal SA, on August 14, 1965. However, these operations have been abandoned since Inco left the country in 1982. In an accord between Inco and Skye Resources, Inc. of Vancouver dated December 2003, Inco will transfer its Niquegua concession and related properties to Skye after various conditions for technological experimentation, financing and renewal of the soon-to-expire concession are met.
The Defensoría Q’eqchi’, the justice programme of the AEPDI, and MiningWatch Canada believe that the planned re-activation of this mining operation, involving several new open pit mines, should be subject to consultation with the more than 50 Indigenous Q’eqchi’ communities in the area, as per ILO Convention 169. By treating the communities as they have, Inco and the Guatemalan government are violating the rights of more than thirty thousand Q’eqchi’ Indigenous people.
“The Indigenous communities are fearful that renewed mining in the area will ruin their lands and destroy their culture. Inco must respect the communities’ rights and be proactive in compliance with the legal norms that guarantee those rights,” states Daniel Vogt, Director of AEPDI.
“It is time that Inco show leadership in its relations with Indigenous peoples. This is their land, and we demand that Inco respect their rights,” adds Mel Quevillon of MiningWatch Canada.
The AEPDI and MiningWatch Canada call for Inco to work with local organizations and communities to assure that legal and transparent consultations with the Indigenous population are conducted, and the communities’ decisions and rights are respected.
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Daniel Vogt, Asociación Estoreña Para el Desarrollo Integral (613) 795-5710
Mel Quevillon, MiningWatch Canada (613) 569- 3439