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UPDATE: Barlow visits Marlin mine in Guatemala today

Today, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow will be visiting the controversial Canadian-owned Marlin mine in the municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacán, which is located about 300 kilometres north of Guatemala City.

A media release issued by Rights Action says they are “pleased to be traveling with Maude Barlow, of the Council of Canadians, to visit Goldcorp Inc’s open-pit, cyanide leaching gold mine in the Mayan Mam communities of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, in western Guatemala, on September 6-7. Maude Barlow is in Guatemala participating in a public workshop Foro de Agua y Género (Forum on Water & Gender), organized by Asociación Agua Ríos y Pueblos, Movimiento de Mujeres Indígenas Tz´ununija´ and Alianza de Derecho Ambiental y Agua… As part of the Forum, 16 of the participants are visiting with mining harmed families and communities near Goldcorp’s mine. Our group will be hosted by ADISMI (Association for the Integral Development of San Miguel Ixtahuacan), an organization of mining-harmed communities and people, that, since 2004, has been at the forefront of denouncing and resisting the wide range of health and environmental harms and other human rights violations caused directly and indirectly by Goldcorp’s mine.”

Their media release also notes, “Contamination of surface and underground water sources ensued (with the Goldcorp mine), due to the release of naturally occurring heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, lead) in dangerous amounts due to the explosives and destruction of mountain-tops and to the use of huge amounts of cyanide (in the process to separate the gold from earth, rock and other metals). Contamination of local water sources also occurred through the release and leak of waste products from the processing plant and tailings ponds. Beyond contamination of water sources, depletion of surface and underground water sources occured due to use of huge quantities of water in the gold and silver processing plant. This water depletion and contamination occurs in regions of the two countries where the ‘subsistence economy’ campesinos and indigenous communities barely survive the ‘dry’ season, most years.”

In a Council of Canadians media release, Barlow says, “Community activists have risked their lives to protect their water from depletion and the discharge of toxic tailings. By allowing Goldcorp to operate this way in Guatemala, the Canadian government is violating the right to water of the local communities in the regional and river basin where the Marlin mine operates.”

The media releases can be read at http://canadians.org/media/water/2011/06-Sep-11.html and http://www.rightsaction.org/articles/delegation_to_Marlin_mine_090611.html. Additional background is available at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=10214.