Marlin Mine is a gold mine in Guatemala owned by Montana Exploradora de Guatemala, S.A , which is a subsidiary of Canadian company Goldcorp. The Gold Mine was brought into production in 2005.
The surrounding communities are predominantly indigenous whose livelihoods depend on subsistence agriculture. Community consultations in 2005 revealed that more than 90 per cent of the population in Sipacapa rejected the Marlin Mining project. The negative effects on communities’ rights to water, food and health are produced primarily by the contamination of the communities´ local water supply, and the mine´s excessive water use, which create a water shortage for the communities.
Communities´ opposition and resistance against mining activities had repeatedly been answered with threats and harassment against human rights defenders or local opposition leaders. This culminated in the murder of a community leader by unknown men in July 2010. When in February 2011 reports of ongoing severe violence in municipalities in the mining area (e.g. San Miguel Ixtahuacan and Sipacapa) had been confirmed, Guatemalan as well as international NGOs and Human Rights organizations demanded the immediate suspension of Marlin Mine. In May 2010 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had recommended precautionary measures to be implemented by Guatemalan authorities. These measures comprise, amongst others, the temporary suspension of Marlin Mine.
The Guatemalan State has failed to fully investigate the risks of environmental pollution and health impacts which are connected with the open-cast gold mine in order to respect to the international conventions that it has ratified in regards to the rights of indigenous peoples, as well as its own Constitution. The violation of the rights of indigenous peoples is based on the lack of respect for the indigenous population´s objections to the mine and the total disregard of the affected population´s right to free and informed consent in relation to the project. Goldcorp is taking advantage of operating in a weak governance zone and should take a step and fulfill its stated commitment to respect human rights.
In 2010 the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous People, James Anaya, and an expert committee from the International Labour Organization declared that the government had granted the license to mine without the free and informed consent of the affected communities. In May 2010 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ordered the suspension of activities at the Marlin Mine as precautionary measures to protect the indigenous communities´ lives and physical integrity. Weeks later the government of Guatemala announced that it will comply with the measures ordered by the IACHR. The implementation of government’s promise is still pending, so the mining activities continue. Violence against communities persists and brutal criminal acts largely remain ignored by authorities.