Action Alert! Guatemalan Anti-Mining Activists Threatened

Two anti-mining activists from the Northern Front of the Metropolitan Area (Frente Norte del Área Metropolitana, FRENAM) were threatened in San José del Golfo, following a confrontation outside a mine site in the department of Guatemala.

On the morning of 13 November, several hundred FRENAM anti-mining activists taking part in an ongoing demonstration to blockade the entrance to the El Tambor mining site (which covers parts of the municipalities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc) were approached by 70 people identifying themselves as pro-mining. The pro-mining group allegedly insulted, pushed and threw water at the activists.

After several hours, the Human Rights Ombudsman (Procuraduría de los Derechos Humanos, PDH) and the Presidential Commission for Human Rights (Comisión Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos, COPREDEH) arrived to monitor the situation. PDH and COPREDEH negotiated with the two groups and set a distance of five metres between them.

Two anti-mining activists left the demonstration at around 4pm on a motorbike, to travel home. When they arrived in the town of San José del Golfo half an hour later, they were threatened by a man standing in the street, who brandished a machete at them. The man shouted at them: “Sons of a bitch I’m going to kill you” (“Hijos de la gran puta les voy a quebrar el culo”). He then got into his car and drove after them for a distance of several blocks, until the two anti-mining activists managed to get away.

On 13 June, anti-mining activist and human rights defender Yolanda Oquelí was shot while driving home from the protest at El Tambor mining site. Though she was seriously wounded, she survived the attack.


  • Call for an independent, thorough and prompt investigation into the threats made against the activists. Ask the authorities to make the results public and bring to justice those responsible.
  • Urge them to provide protection, if requested by those threatened.


President of the Republic:

Otto Pérez Molina
Presidente de la República
Casa Presidencial
6ª Avenida 4-41, Zona 1
Puera del Centro
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Twitter:          @ottoperezmolina
Salutation:     Dear President /

Estimado Sr. Presidente

Minister of the Interior:

Mauricio López Bonilla
Ministro de Gobernación
6ª Avenida 13-71, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Fax:                 011 502 2413 8658
Twitter:          @mlopezbonilla

Salutation:     Dear Minister /

Estimado Sr. Ministro


His Excellency Georges de la Roche Plihal
Ambassador for the Republic of Guatemala
130 Albert Street, Suite 1010
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4

Fax:                 (613) 233-0135
Email :

Non-governmental organization Unit for protection of human rights defenders /Unidad de protección a defensores  y defensoras de derechos humanos:

1 Calle 7-45 zona 1, Oficina 2-b
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala


There has been an ongoing protest at El Tambor mine site since March 2012. Those opposing the mine claim that it will pollute the water supply, and that local communities were not consulted about its potential impact. El Tambor is operated by EXMINGUA – a local wholly-owned subsidiary of the US company Kappes, Cassidy and Associates – who bought it from Radius Gold in August 2012.

Yolanda Oquelí is a leader of the organization Northern Front of the Metropolitan Area (Frente Norte del Área Metropolitana, FRENAM), which has been protesting against the negative effects of the mining project. In September 2012, another FRENAM member who was running errands on behalf of Yolanda Oquelí while driving her family car reported that a grey Honda vehicle followed him for several kilometres, while driving between San José del Golfo and Guatemala City.

The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples noted in 2011 that ”[c]urrently in Guatemala, the business activities under way in the traditional territories of the indigenous peoples have generated a highly unstable atmosphere of social conflict, which is having a serious impact on the rights of the indigenous people and threatening the country’s governance and economic development” (UN reference number: A/HRC/18/35/Add.3).