Place: Marlin Mine, Guatemala
Recorded and translated by Lena Dorfschmidt and Justin Shenk
Original Language: Spanish
We will listen to Don Fernando who will tell us about the problems the community has lived through and how they reached the precautionary measurements. Let’s say… this community will benefit because the sued the company. They sued the State of Guatemala, the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights. And the Commission ordered some precautionary measurements in favor of five communities. One of these is Siete Platos.
I am Fernando. I am from here, from Siete Platos. On the base of the precautionary measurements, the project is close to being brought about. One part had already been accomplished by the mine and the mayor of San Miguel on the way to free water. The other part the community has also contributed. 100 Quetzals, Guatemalan money, we are to pay for the permission for where the pipes will pass through. On the fourth of this month we went to the company’s office to talk to Christian, the mine’s agent. They told us, “Pay now and the company will pay you back what you pay now. The water easement.” So when we came back we talked to the community and they said that is was fine. […] So we asked the mayor, “And you, won’t you help us out, won’t you pay a little?” “No, no.” The mine – no either. Only the payment for the spring, that, yes, is what they pay. We will pay 100 Quetzals. Each of us. There are 332 people here. It will come out to about 30,000. It is still outstanding, for this Monday, we will go to see the property, the property where the water will pass through. Then already buy the spring and the property and still it will be another two weeks on average to get to permission from the owner of the land. The engineer is working on that now for the community of Siete Platos. I would say that the mine hasn’t completely fulfilled the measurements. Also the mayor who had already obliged.
To buy the water we sued the mine. Because all the damage, that was the mine. There were many problems. Because of that we sued them. And the mine now agreed to buy the spring. The water easement though, they didn’t agree to pay for. That is for the community to pay.
What happens, say, to get water to a community: there are members of the community that are going to charge, well, ask for money as a compensation for the water to pass through their land. He possesses the land, even if he is not the owner, he has the possession. For this right to possession, some neighbors are asking for the economic compensation for touching their land. And that won’t be paid for by the mine. Though they have already paid for the spring.
There have been contamination and people became […] invalid. […] [The contamination] has brought illnesses, skin irritations, loss of hair and other things. Though the mine has promoted coffee and tomato cultivation projects. But for the same reasons – the river here carries the water from the mine – the tomatoes rotted, you can’t eat them. It dried. These are the problems Siete Platos faces. […] Where the river starts, it is already contaminated. It isn’t good for drinking anymore. It burns the crop.
That is what is happening here in Siete Platos. We are afraid. Because for the people, well… the mine is working now. Probably they have a certain control over the contamination now. But if they stop mining gold suddenly and leave – because they are Canadians… So they go. And maybe there won’t be any control anymore. Because now they are working. But after that we don’t know what is going to happen in Siete Platos. […] There is nothing else we can do. […] The mine is not going to give up. The same for the government. The mayor hasn’t even looked at the petitions by the people.
The mine isn’t contaminating – well… that is what they say.