Rights Action prepared this urgent action based on information from the MTC (Movimiento de Trabajadores del Campo), a community-based organization in the San Marcos region where the Canadian/US company Glamis Gold is operating. This is the second person violently killed directly or indirectly related to Glamis Gold's mining operation in Guatemala, which is widely opposed by the general public in Guatemala, including local Mayan populations. However, Glamis Gold is receiving strong support from the Canadian, US and Guatemalan governments, and the World Bank.
What to do? - See below.
During the evening of Sunday, March 13, 2005, there was a choral concert in the parish church of the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, department of San Marcos. The concert was attended by Alvaro Benigno, a man from the village of Pie de la Cuesta, municipality of Sipacapa.
According to eye-witnesses, at approximately midnight, Alvaro Benigno left the church with other people and started walking home. As they were passing a bar in San Miguel, Ixtahuacán, Ludwin Waldemar Calderon and Guillermo Lanuza came out into the street. Both these men work for the Grupo Golan company providing "security" for the Marlin Project, which is being implemented by the Montana Mining Company, a subsidiary of the Canadian/US company Glamis Gold Ltd.
Guillermo Lanuza went straight over to Álvaro Benigno and hit him. In the middle of the scuffle that ensued, Ludvin Waldemar Calderon pulled a hand-gun and shot five or six bullets which hit Álvaro Benigno in several places. He was taken to the National Hospital in Huehuetenango, where he died.
Since this crime, the manager of the Grupo Golan company telephoned the family of the victim a number of times to offer them money in an attempt to ensure that the general public does not find out what happened or that the family does not begin a legal process against the company.
The victim, Alvaro Benigno, was 23 years old, and leaves behind him his pregnant wife and a 3 year-old infant. This killing takes place in a very tense climate, when the local population are organizing against the gold mining operation; and this killing comes in the aftermath of serious protests against the Glamis Gold company earlier this year. During one protest against Glamis Gold in January, a protestor was killed by Guatemala government forces.
To date, no one has been detained by the authorities for this most recent killing.
1- Please write short letters of protest and email them to the authorities listed below. Demand (a) a proper investigation and trial for this murder, and (b) the suspension of the Glamis Gold mining operation.
Glamis Gold: 310-5190 Neil Road, Reno, NV, USA, 89502, tel: (775)827-4600, fax: (775) 827-5044, e-mail: [email protected]
- James Lambert, Canadian ambassador in Guatemala, [email protected]
- Ginette Martin, Advisor, Canadian embassy in Guatemala, [email protected]
- Monica Izaguirre, Foreign Affairs Canada, [email protected]
- James Wolfensohn, President, Attention to: Minneh M. Kane [Asst. to the President], fax: (202) 522-1677, e-mail: [email protected]
- Vice President, David de Ferranti, e-mail: [email protected]
- Michael Swetye, Principal Investment Officer, Oil, Gas, Mining and Chemicals Department F8K-254, International Finance Corporation, e-mail: [email protected], fax: (202) 974-4323
- Carmen Gadala, World Bank External Affairs Officer, e-mail: [email protected]
- Jane Armitage, Country Director, Central America, e-mail: [email protected], fax: (202) 676-1464
- Neeta Sirur, Country Manager for Guatemala, e-mail: [email protected]k.org
- Irma Yolanda Avila, civil society and indigenous peoples specialist, Guatemala Country Office, e-mail: [email protected]
2- Please send tax-deductible donations for the community development and education work, as well as for the emergency needs of the surviving family members of the murdered young man. Make cheque payable to "Rights Action" (writing MTC-relief on the memo line) and mail to:
UNITED STATES: 1830 Connecticut Av, NW, Washington DC, 20009.
CANADA: 509 St. Clair Ave W, box 73527, Toronto ON, M6C-1C0.
Donate on-line in the USA and Canada: www.rightsaction.org
CONTACT US: for more information about this situation or to find out about our July 2005 Delegation-Seminar to Guatemala & Honduras.
e-mail: [email protected] tel: (416) 654-2074