On July 12, 2018, Guatemalan activist Ángel Estuardo Quevedo, a member of the Peaceful Resistance in Casillas which demands the permanent closure of the Escobal silver mine, was murdered while traveling in the municipality of Santa Rosa de Lima.
The murder of Quevedo is the latest in a wave of assassinations of movement leaders defending land, natural resources, and Indigenous territorial rights. Since January alone, 13 land and Indigenous rights defenders have been murdered. According to those close to him, Quevedo had received threats shortly before his death.
These attacks will not stop unless those responsible are brought to justice. This Wednesday, NISGUA joined over 60 human rights organizations from the US and Canada in condemning the murder of Quevedo and calling on the Guatemalan Public Prosecutor’s Office to thoroughly, impartially, and promptly investigate. Read the full letter below:
Dear Attorney General María Consuelo Porras Argueta:
We are writing to express our profound sadness and concern at the killing of human rights defender Ángel Estuardo Quevedo in the municipality of Santa Rosa de Lima on July 12, 2018. Estuardo resided in the municipality of Casillas and was a member of the Peaceful Resistance movement of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa. He played an important role in making visible broad community opposition to the Escobal silver mine, a Canadian mining investment project, owned by Tahoe Resources. Estuardo and his fellow human rights defenders have worked tirelessly and at great personal risk to raise awareness about the ways in which Tahoe and its subsidiary Minera San Rafael have violated their human rights.
Before his death, Estuardo spent considerable time in Guatemala City at the peaceful resistance camp set up outside the Constitutional Court to inform the public about the violations of Indigenous rights committed by Tahoe and Minera San Rafael. He was awaiting a crucial Constitutional Court ruling about the future of the Escobal mine when he was killed. Estuardo lived and died as a courageous human rights defender and was part of a community still facing terrible risks to stand up for their rights.
We lament the fact that the State of Guatemala did not protect Estuardo, who had received threats in the days leading up to his murder. He sadly joins a growing list of human rights defenders killed in Guatemala since the beginning of 2018 for standing up to protect land, water and the environment.
We call on you to thoroughly, impartially and promptly investigate his murder. As outlined in the newly adopted General Instruction to investigate crimes against human rights defenders,
your investigation should include the theory that the attack was in retaliation for his legitimate
human rights defense work.
In order to show that Guatemala is serious about ending the ongoing wave of killings of human rights defenders, we strongly urge you to:
- publicly condemn the murder of Ángel Estuardo Quevedo
- publicly insist that attacks, stigmatization, abuse, discrimination or the killing of human rights defenders anywhere in Guatemala will not be tolerated,
- Arrest and bring to justice those responsible for his killing.
We also urge you to take appropriate measures, in accordance with the group’s wishes, to
guarantee the safety of other members of the peaceful resistance movement of Santa Rosa, Jalapa and Jutiapa, who are facing increasing surveillance, intimidation and threats. Doing so will send a strong signal that the Guatemalan state recognizes the important and legitimate work of human rights defenders and could prevent further attacks.
As civil society organizations across Canada and the United States, we again raise our voices
together to call on the Government of Guatemala to comply with its international obligations to protect human rights defenders and to take decisive action to prevent further violence against peaceful protesters.
Americas Policy Group (APG) of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation
Amnesty International Canada – English Speaking Branch
Amnesty International Canada – Francophone Branch
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN)
Canadian Jesuits international
Casa Maria Catholic Worker
Center for Coalfield Justice
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (CDHAL)
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
Cooperation Operation, Chicago
Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project
The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW – STTP)
Democratic Socialists of America, Salem Oregon
Denver Justice and Peace Committee
Friends of Latin America
Grassroots Global Justice
Guatemala Human Rights Comission
Guatemala Partnership Committee, Congregational Church of Needham
International League of Peoples’ Struggle, Portland
InterReligious Task Force on Central America
Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Commission
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
Kickapoo/Guatemala Accompaniment Project (KGAP)
Lakes Area Group Organizing in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (LAGOS)
Latin America Task Force of Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice
Latin America Working Group (LAWG)
Marin Task Force on the Americas
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS)
Metro New York Catholic Climate Movement
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
Mining Justice Alliance
Native American Films, Brooklyn
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)
New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project
Nicaragua Center for Community Action (NICCA)
Nobel Women’s Initiative
Oberlin Students in Solidarity with Guatemala (OSSGUA)
Partners for Arlington and Guatemala (PAG)
Pax Christi, Clinton Iowa
Peace and Justice Commission of St. Philip Neri Parish, Portland
People’s Health Movement Canada/Mouvement Populaire pour la Santé au Canada
Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC)
Queers for Climate Change
Rose Haven, Portland
Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment (SEPA)
School of Living
School of the Americas Watch, Los Angeles
Sister Parish, Inc.
Siti Maimunah, Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Indonesia
St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA)
Stuart Center for Mission, Educational Leadership & Technology
Task Force on the Americas
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Portland
Workers World Portland
Xun Biosphere Project
Karolina Guay, Political Advisor of the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala
His Excellency Luis E. Arreaga, US Ambassador to Guatemala
His Excellency Carlos Humberto Jiménez Licona, Guatemalan Ambassador to Canada