You are here

Environmental Human Rights: News & Updates

News Article

A Nevada-based mining firm is suing Guatemala for more than $400 million, the first suit of its kind for the impoverished Central American country. 

The lawsuit which began on June 22 with the consultation process was filed at the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a branch of the World Bank, and is based on CAFTA (Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement with the US). It allows transnational corporations to sue for alleged losses of investment. In the recent lawsuit, the Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) mining firm claims that the Guatemalan government has not done enough to protect their investment. A dubious claim seeing how the police oppresses indigenous anti-mining protests. KCA's gold mine, which has been the sight of constant protest, was only in operation for two years, until the courts suspended the project in late 2015 over failure to adequately consult with the habitants of the La Puya area. Furthermore, the mine was the cause of massive environmental damages leading to health issues within the population. Individuals with courage to speak out against the operation were met with threats, violence, persecution and police repression. 

In their defense against KCA's lawsuit, the Guatemalan government brings forward information gathered by activists located in La Puya while ignoring the the interests of the communities. The KCA case also sheds light on corruption within Guatemala's former government as Daniel Kapps was meeting with the Director General of Mining Selvyn Morales in 2011 in an effort to seek a building permit. Shortly after this meeting Morales left his position in the government to work for a mining services company, which KCA immediately hired. Guatemala's government argues that KCA violated environmental norms and failed to obtain its construction license to build its mine, thus not having a right to be reimbursed for their losses. 

Indigenous communities criticize that the Guatemalan government argues on the claims and findings of activists while disregarding the needs and interests of the habitants.  

News Article

Since its election of the new president Xiomara Castro, Honduras has a lot to do to move forward.

From October 26 to October 28, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) held a series of meetings with members of civil society, press, donors, the U.S. Embassy and President Castro.

The main talking points were the fight against corruption, migration and the human rights situation in the country. 

The state aims to dismantle the existing corruption networks in its institutions and strengthen the independence of the country's judicial system. To reach this goal, the government is cooperating with the the International Commission against Impunity (CICH).

Furthermore, Honduras plans on cutting crime rates, especially against women and other marginalized groups by reducing impunity for gender based violence. 

In the discussion about migration, the main focus was on displacement and the situation of unaccompanied minors at the U.S. border. WOLA emphasized the need for Honduras to work on the structural causes of migration and to implement immediate actions to address the humanitarian crisis contributing to migration.

WOLA will remain a partner on Honduras' rocky road towards the full implementation of human rights and to become a safe place for every citizen and migrant in the country. 

News Article

The indigenous people of  Sonsonate in western El Salvador are bundled with daily struggles. Commercial farming damages their homeland and privatizations strip them of basic needs like water. 

Women especially are suffering under these circumstances. 

In 2017 the New Dawn Association of El Salvador (ANADES) founded their Agroecological School, teaching indigenous women their ancestors' way of farming, using native crops and to work in harmony with the environment. Besides the practical training, the program includes theoretical classes, reflecting on the oppression with which the women are confronted every day. Together they analyze structures like capitalism, colonization and patriarchy. 

The program helps communities and families to become financially independent while saving the environment and building an economy benefiting all.