Supporting Indigenous Peoples to protect and manage their lands and natural resources should be a high priority on the agenda of those committing to fighting the climate crisis, yet, it continues to be overlooked.Learn More
Anti-Mining Activist Receives Safeguards
Precautionary Measures Granted for Quelvin Otoniel Jiménez Villalta, Lawyer Opposing Mining on Indigenous Guatemalan Lands
In his work as a legal adviser to the Xinka Parliament, Quelvin Otoniel Jiménez Villalta represents Guatemala’s Indigenous population in combating the aggressive encroachment of mining activity on Xinka land. Because of this work, Quelvin has been issued numerous death threats, seen a mob of machete-wielding people attempt to break down the door of his home, been surveilled, and felt threatened and harassed in countless other ways.
The Santa Rosa and Jalapa departments of Guatemala are rich with natural resources, most abundantly silver, and major mining operations have invested well upwards of half a billion dollars developing the Escobal and Juan Bosco mines. But in 2018, local resistance by the Xinka people—whose lands the mines lay on—led Guatemala’s Constitutional Court to suspend the mining interests’ exploration licenses. The threats to Quelvin’s life stem from that suspension, as a campaign of defamation, intimidation, and threats has targeted him and other anti-mining leaders.
Why is This a Key Case?
Mining exploration driven by major corporations has created a dangerous divide in countries across the world, including Guatemala. This is especially true in indigenous regions, in which people with a right to preserve their land from mining’s deleterious effects are constitutionally required to be consulted and in agreement with any development.
When mining money to be gained—and money already invested—is threatened, those who openly oppose mining, such as Quelvin, become an obstacle to mining interests and are severely endangered. Throughout Guatemala, there has been a dangerous history of harassment, threats, and even targeted assassinations, with continued impunity that creates little deterrent for perpetrators. Protecting Quelvin’s life and ability to continue his human rights defense work is critical to guaranteeing the human rights of the Xinca people.
How is RFK Human Rights Supporting Quelvin’s Case?
Along with partner Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network and the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson of Guatemala, on May 17, 2019, the organization filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to seek precautionary measures for Quelvin to protect his rights to life and personal integrity, including a security force.
What is the Status of the Case?
On July 23, 2019, the IACHR requested that the state of Guatemala adopt the security measures necessary to protect Quelvin’s life and personal security and to guarantee his ability to continue his work as a human rights defender without being the object of threats, intimidation, or acts of violence.
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network
We teamed up to file a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking precautionary measures to protect Guatemalan mining activist Quelvin Otoniel Jiménez Villalta.
Office of the Human Rights Ombudsperson of Guatemala
We teamed up to file a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to seek precautionary measures to protect Guatemalan mining activist Quelvin Otoniel Jiménez Villalta.