Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tribunal 2012: "We are defending the life of all humanity with our struggle"

Participants listen as the international tribunal pronounces its final sentence.
Graham Hunt

On July 14 and 15, 2012, participants from throughout Mesoamerica and North America gathered in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, in northwest Guatemala, for the first ever International People's Health Tribunal.  Over two days, the panel of judges listened to testimony from scientific experts, human rights organizations, and community leaders directly affected by mining.  Among others, the tribunal heard three cases from three different countries presenting on the effects of mining operations owned by gold giant Goldcorp.

Focusing on mining's health impacts on individuals and communities, the tribunal also heard stories of criminalization, abuses carried out by State authorities and private security forces, and inspiring stories of ongoing community resistance in the face of incredible odds.

From Guatemala, those who presented included leaders from Marlin mine-affected San Miguel Ixtahuacán, women leaders from El Estor who filed legal complaints against Hudbay Minerals, and community members from San Jose del Golfo, where a recent attack generated widespread denunciations.

In the days to come, people will surely analyze and share the statement of the judges.  The tribunal, however, also provided a critical space for mine-affected communities of Mesoamerica to speak out and be heard.

A few quotes from testimonies and presentations:

"Numerous water sources have disappeared, the childrens' noses bleed every day...and the company denies it." - See video of presentations from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras and many more.

“When we carve Mother Earth, we bludgeon our own bodies!”  - Powerful photo essay from

"In 2007, 800 anti-riot police arrived [in our communities] and now one young man has been paralized due to [the actions of] the company hitmen.  Where is the State of Guatemala?  What have they done for us? ... My husband shed his blood; I should keep fighting.  [Government food aid] doesn't last for many years, but our land will!"

"I have the strength for the resistance!  We are defending our Mother Earth!" - Radio coverage in Spanish.

Visit the Tribunal de Salud website for an extensive list of organizations and 
independent media covering the event.

Thank you to all of the organizations involved and all of the independent media groups that made it possible to follow the tribunal from far away.

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