Article by PBI-Canada
On June 17, Peace Brigades International-United Kingdom hosted a webinar titled: Stories of Resilience, Hope and Solidarity.
It featured actors Juliet Stevenson and Christopher Colquhoun reading the words of a series of human rights defenders.
To watch a 58-minute video of the webinar, please click here.
Both Stevenson and Colquhoun read the words of Kevin Ramirez Vasquez, an environmental activist from Honduras, that included:
“Human rights lawyer Donald Hernandez points out that since the 2009 coup Honduras has declared itself open to business and encouraged foreign companies to take up mining concessions. Powerful Honduran families who supported the coup have also been granted to concessions to rivers for hydroelectric developments for periods of 50 years. A Canadian company that has been operating in the region for ten years has brought environmental devastation. More than 60 families have been diagnosed with metal contamination in their bodies.”
While the mine wasn’t specified in the reading, this could refer to the Vancouver-based Goldcorp’s open-pit San Martin gold mine in Valle de Siria.
In December 2009, The Guardian reported: “Goldcorp is shutting the decade-old San Martin mine after extracting nearly 12,000 tonnes of ore from its forested slopes.” And Source International has reported: “In 2006, 21 out of the 26 streams dried out. The five remaining streams were heavily polluted with cyanide and heavy metals.”
It should also be noted that in April 2014, MiningWatch Canada’s then Latin America program coordinator Jennifer Moore expressed concern about the Honduran mining law that was passed in post-coup Honduras in January 2013.
Moore stated: “This law was developed and passed with strong diplomatic support from the Canadian embassy, and with contributions from the Department of Foreign Affairs and the former Canadian International Development Agency.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams has also commented: “In creating this new law, the Honduran government has bent over backwards to meet the needs of Canadian and other mining companies, but has carried out almost no consultations with Honduran civil society and community organizations.”
Ramirez is a cofounder of the Association of Defenders of Common Goods in Quimistán (ASODEBICOQ). PBI-Honduras has been monitoring the security situation of Ramirez since April 2017 and began to provide accompaniment to ASODEBICOQ in May 2018.
Ramirez has stated: “The support PBI offers us gives us strength, encouragement, so we can keep going.”
Again, to watch the PBI-UK webinar, please click here.