Guatemala: Recuperating the Land that Belongs to Us

Author: Sandra Cuffe, Rights Action , Published on: 22 August 2007

The indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Barrio Revolucion was among the six groups evicted during three rounds of forced evictions in November 2006 and January 2007...mining company Skye Resources, which acquired the controversial property rights granted in the 1960s by...[the] dictatorship to International Nickel Company (INCO), sought the evictions...State ‘security’ forces are once again being employed against the local Mayan population...Reports by both the United Nations Commission for Historical Clarification in Guatemala and the Human Rights Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala found INCO [part of Companhia Vale do Rio Doce] subsidiary EXMIBAL complicit in grave human rights violations against opponents of the mining project, including threats and assassinations..."This primarily is a land issue that is separate from the project," remarked Skye Resources CEO Ian Austin...According to Austin, none of the land where evictions have taken place contains mineral desposits, although "some of it is of use to the project, such as housing." The forced evictions took place on lands for which controversial mining company property claims...overlap with the collective rights claimed by the indigenous population...Skye Resources has repeatedly claimed that the company has carried out "extensive consultation activities"...However, ever since Skye has resuscitated the project, local indigenous residents have denounced the fact that no consultations ever took place, in violation of International Labour Organization’s Convention 169..."What we can do is try to offer a better future," said...Ian Austin..."They need to move beyond subsistence farming." "The work that we need is farming," clarified Tomás Chub of Barrio Revolucion...[also refers to Skye Resources' subsidiary Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), Nichromet, BHP Billiton]

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Related companies: BHP Billiton Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (now Vale) Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN) (part of Solway Group) Inco (part of Companhia Vale do Rio Doce) Skye Resources (part of HudBay)