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GUATEMALA
Water comes first
9/17/2008
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The Latin American Water Tribunal finds companies and governments guilty of threatening this vital resource.

The Latin American Water Tribunal took aim at a subsidiary of transnational Canadian miner Glamis Gold, finding the companies guilty of threatening water resources of nearby communities.

The Costa Rica-based Tribunal, whose session, its fifth hearing period, lasted from Sept. 8-12 in the Guatemalan city of Antigua, just outside the capital, made an “urgent” appeal to protect water resources in the region.

“It must be a priority of governments and communities to protect water and natural resources through public policies and conservation programs,” it said in one of its final statements.

The Tribunal, founded in 2000, has read 47 verdicts since its founding. Although its verdicts are non-binding, they do have a moral and ethical weight.

In this past session, the tribunal found that Montana Exploradora was guilty of environmental damage in the towns of San Miguel Ixtahuacan and Sicapaca in the Guatemalan department of San Marcos, near the Mexican border.

It said that Montana´s Marlin mine had used up water resources there, affecting some 10,000 residents.

According to the nongovernmental Guatemalan Studies Center, there is a high risk of acid-laden waters being released by the mine as well as the risk of spills with serious consequences for the communities and the Cuilco and Tzala River Basins.

The Tribunal´s president, Costa Rican Javier Bogantes, said that its rulings should be considered “a serious alarm call” to regulate water administration but also “to avoid future governability problems.”

In its last session, the tribunal heard a total of 10 cases from Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Brazil and El Salvador against companies and governments. 
—Latinamerica Press.


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