The Guatemalan Government must uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior, and informed consent

Guatemalan Congressional Labor Commission / Comisión Ordinaria de Trabajo

Grahamhuntuspantanconsulta

Proposed legislation in Guatemala: Violation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior, and informed consent

Since the first community-organized consultations on large-scale resource extraction took place in Guatemala in 2005, more than a million people have voted against mining, hydroelectric dams, and other types of megadevelopment projects in their territories. This enormous movement to protect life against the extractive industries is successfully stopping the development of destructive projects throughout the country.

But the power and success of this organizing tool have provoked renewed attacks. Guatemala is a signatory to key international agreements that uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples to free, prior, and informed consent on issues that affect their lives. A bill currently before Guatemalan Congress, however, would grant the government the power to standardize consultations, choose which communities to consult and under what circumstances, and then ultimately ignore the results if they were to be contrary to the interests of the State. Organizations like the Western Peoples' Council (CPO) call this proposed bill the latest attack on Indigenous sovereignty and an attempt to undermine powerful resistance to resource extraction projects. The spirit of the proposed bill is clear; strongly backed by the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce with support from the U.S. Embassy and American Chamber of Commerce in Guatemala, the bill was drafted in the interest of transnational corporations and with no meaningful input from Indigenous communities.

The bill is currently before the Labor Commission who will decide its future.

ADD YOUR VOICE: Call on the Commission to reject this proposed legislation and uphold the results of the more than 85 referenda on resource extraction that have already taken place.

Read the full petition in English and Spanish below.

Photo: Maya K’iche’ and Maya Uspanteko citizens vote in an October 2010 referendum in Uspantán, El Quiché. More than 25,000 residents voted to reject mining and hydroelectric megaprojects in the municipality. Photo: Graham Hunt


To: Guatemalan Congressional Labor Commission / Comisión Ordinaria de Trabajo
From: [Your Name]

(En español abajo)

Guatemalan Congressional Labor Commission
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Committee Members:
Dalio José Berreondo Zavala - UNE
Carlos Enrique López Maldonado - UNE
Edgar Armando Sandoval Trigueros - FCN-NACION
Eva Nicolle Monte Bac - AC
Félix Ovidio Monzón Pedroza - TODOS
Francisco Vitelio Lam Ruano - UNE

Dear the Congressional Labor Commission,

The Labor Commission is currently tasked with reviewing proposed legislation 5416, the "Law on Consultation of Indigenous Peoples in Accordance with Convention 169." As a signatory to Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization, the Guatemalan State is responsible for upholding the rights of Indigenous Peoples to be consulted on key issues that affect their cultures and territories. The Convention stipulates that Indigenous Peoples have the right to be consulted in a manner consistent with their own ancestral traditions, which vary greatly from community to community.

Guatemala is also a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was signed after ILO 169 and supersedes the Convention in holding the State to a stricter standard. This declaration requires signatory states to acquire the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous Peoples prior to the implementation of resource extraction projects or the adoption of legislation that will affect their lands, cultures, and livelihoods.

Contrary to several national laws and other international agreements, this proposed legislation has reached the Commission without any meaningful input from - much less robust consultation with - affected Indigenous communities. The legislation would give the Guatemalan government the power to decide which matters require consultation, rather than upholding the rights of Indigenous communities to actively participate in all decisions that affect their futures. It would allow the State to disregard the power of ancestral authorities who have validated and protected the results of consultations held so far, and only recognize local development councils who, in many cases, are appointed by the State. If the Labor Commission emits a favorable opinion on the bill presented by Congressman Oliverio Garcías Rodas, it will be one step closer to becoming law despite these violations.

Since 2005, over a million people in Guatemala have participated in community-organized consultations on resource extraction. Using ancestral forms of decision-making, over 85 referenda have taken place across the country at the community and municipal levels. Voters have overwhelmingly rejected the presence of mining, hydroelectric dams, and other mega-development projects in their territories. Ignoring the results of these referenda, the Ministry of Energy and Mines continues to grant licenses to Guatemalan and transnational resource extraction companies in areas that have expressed clear opposition to these types of projects.

The lack of consultation with affected populations during the drafting of this proposed legislation is a clear indicator to its spirit; instead of a vigorous, relationship-based consultation process that firmly centers the ancestral and legal rights Indigenous Peoples have to free, prior, and informed consent, this bill seeks to reduce these rights to an administrative process. Communities are calling for the rejection of this bill, arguing that it will allow for the further imposition of mines, hydroelectric dams, and other mega-development projects in their territories without their consent.

We call on you to reject this proposed legislation and uphold the results of the more than 85 referenda on resource extraction that have already taken place.

Sincerely,

The undersigned

CC: U.S. Embassy in Guatemala

*********************************************************************

Congreso de la República de Guatemala
Comisión Ordinaria de Trabajo
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala

Integrantes de la Comissión:
Dalio José Berreondo Zavala - UNE
Carlos Enrique López Maldonado - UNE
Edgar Armando Sandoval Trigueros - FCN-NACION
Eva Nicolle Monte Bac - AC
Félix Ovidio Monzón Pedroza - TODOS
Francisco Vitelio Lam Ruano - UNE

Estimada Comisión de Trabajo

Actualmente, la Comisión de Trabajo tiene la tarea de revisar la iniciativa de ley número 5416, la "Ley de Consulta a los Pueblos Indígenas conforme el Convenio 169". Como signatario del Convenio 169 de la Organización Internacional del Trabajo, el Estado de Guatemala es responsable de garantizar a los derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas de ser consultar sobre asuntos claves que afectan sus culturas y territorios. El Convenio estipula que los Pueblos Indígenas tienen derecho a ser consultados de manera coherente con sus propias tradiciones ancestrales, que varían mucho de una comunidad a otra.

Guatemala también es signatario de la Declaración de las Naciones Unidas sobre los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas, que se firmó después del Convenio 169 de la OIT y somete al Estado a un estándar más estricto. Esta declaración requiere que los estados signatarios obtienen el consentimiento libre, previo e informado de los Pueblos Indígenas antes de la implementación de proyectos de extracción de recursos o la adopción de legislación que afectará sus tierras, culturas y medios de vida.

Al contrario a las múltiples leyes nacionales y acuerdos internacionales, esta iniciativa de ley fue presentada al congreso sin ningún aporte significativo desde las comunidades indígenas afectadas y mucho menos pasó por un proceso integral de consulta. En lugar de defender los derechos de las comunidades indígenas a participar activamente en todas las decisiones que afectan su futuro, la legislación otorgaría al gobierno guatemalteco el poder de decidir qué asuntos requieren consulta. Permitiría al Estado ignorar el poder de las autoridades ancestrales que han validado y protegido los resultados de las consultas celebradas hasta ahora, y solo reconocerá a los consejos comunitarios de desarrollo que, en muchos casos, son nombrados por el Estado. Si la Comisión del Trabajo emite un dictamen favorable sobre la iniciativa de ley presentado por el diputado Oliverio Garcías Rodas, será un paso más para convertirse en ley a pesar de estas violaciones.

Desde 2005, más de un millón de personas en Guatemala han participado en consultas organizadas por la comunidad sobre extracción de recursos. Utilizando formas ancestrales de toma de decisiones, se han realizado más de 85 consultas en todo el país a nivel comunitario y municipal. Los votantes han rechazado la presencia de minas, represas hidroeléctricas y otros megaproyectos en sus territorios. Ignorando los resultados de estas consultas, el Ministerio de Energía y Minas continúa otorgando licencias a empresas extractivas guatemaltecas y transnacionales en lugares que han expresado una clara oposición a este tipo de proyectos.

La falta de consultar a las poblaciones afectadas durante la redacción de esta legislación propuesta es un claro indicador de su espíritu; en lugar de un proceso de consulta vigoroso y de buena fe que centra firmemente los derechos ancestrales y legales de los Pueblos Indígenas del consentimiento libre, previo e informado, este proyecto de ley busca reducir estos derechos a un proceso administrativo. Las comunidades han rechazado este proyecto de ley, argumentando que permitirá la posterior imposición de minas, represas hidroeléctricas y otros proyectos de megaproyectos en sus territorios sin su consentimiento.

Les instamos que rechacen esta iniciativa de ley y defiendan los resultados de los más de 85 consultas sobre extracción de recursos que ya se llevaron a cabo.

Atentamente,
Firmantes

CC:
Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Guatemala