This case from Guatemala illustrates the power of direct democracy, here in the form of popular referendum, to assert the will of the people in a democratic fashion over corporate and special interests that may threaten the future of the community and the well being of it's inhabitants. - Editor
Written by Dawn Paley
Monday, 23 June 2008
Source: The Dominion - http://upsidedownworld.org/main/content/view/1346/33/
Goldcorp Inc.'s Marlin mine in Guatemala has been a hotbed of controversy since locals became aware of the presence of the company (then Glamis Gold) in their municipalities.
Adding weight to the resistance to the mine is a ruling made public on June 9 by the Constitutional Court in Guatemala, which has found eight Articles (or sections thereof) of the Mining Law to be unconstitutional. (for a full text of the ruling in pdf format click here).
Among the Articles deemed unconstitutional are 19 and 20, which allow mining activities to start while the corresponding paperwork is still being processed, Articles 21, 24 and 27, which allow mining activity to take place to unlimited depths of the subsurface, Article 75, which allows mining companies to discharge water from their tailings pond directly into surface water, as well as Articles 81 and 86.
Goldcorp has refused to comment on the ruling, as they are in this case unable to use their regular discourse about the importance of the "rule of law."
Lawyers and environmentalists in Guatemala hope that the ruling will prevent Goldcorp from discharging untreated water from the tailings pond at the Marlin Mine into local rivers, which the company had planned to begin doing in the next few months.
¡Viva la Consulta Comunitaria, Bajo la Represión!
The municipality of Sipakapa, a Mayan Sipakapense community, held a consulta (community referendum) three years ago this month, rejecting the activities and presence of the company and open pit mining in their territory.
Since the 2005 consulta in Sipakapa, more than 20 other municipalities that have been concessioned in the Guatemalan highlands have held pre-emptive consulta proceses, most recently in Tajamulco.
The consulta was undermined in a 2007 ruling by Guatemala's Constitutional Court -a product of an unconstitutionality suit filed by Glamis Gold against the validity of the consulta- that ruled that the consulta in Sipakapa was legal, but not binding.
The people of Sipakapa have brought their case in favour of the validity of the consulta to the Inter American Court on Human Rights based in Washington DC. Thus far, the case has been accepted by the court.
In San Miguel Ixtahuacan, a Mayan Mam community consisting of about 45,000 inhabitants, a consulta is expected to take place in the next few months.