CAFTA Weakens Central America’s Hand in Mining Conflicts

CAFTA Weakens Central America’s Hand in Mining Conflicts

GUATEMALA CITY -- Goldcorp is one of the many mining companies winning big on the Central American Gold Belt. Amid soaring gold prices, its Marlin mine in Guatemala made $609 million in profit last year, up 125 percent from 2010. The second-biggest gold miner in the world, Goldcorp was also Guatemala’s largest single taxpayer last year, paying more than $80 million in royalties and taxes, while also funding community development and health projects.

But the Marlin mine has a downside. Guatemalans living nearby claim to have lead poisoning, and environmentalists say Goldcorp is harming local water supplies irreversibly. Meanwhile, anti-mining activists have allegedly been threatened and attacked by mine security agents.

In 2010, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) denounced the mine and called on the Guatemalan government to shut it down until conditions at Marlin were improved. But the country’s Ministry of Mining performed its own assessment and concluded that Goldcorp was complying with all standards. Mining continues unabated.

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