This report focuses on the plight of environmental defenders in the context of the mining sector. In recent years, the high price of gold and other precious metals on international markets has spurred increased foreign investment in mining projects in Mexico, Central America, and elsewhere in the Americas. The potential social and environmental costs of these projects are high,generally externalized, and borne disproportionately by families and communities living nearby. Mining poses substantial environmental risks, including contamination of water, air, and soil, reduced access to water, and noise pollution. This environmental degradation, in turn, causes serious impacts on the health and well being of communities and ecosystems. It also carries serious social risks, including government corruption, violence, and forced displacement of communities. From this perspective, mining that results in social conflict and environmental contamination does not contribute to development.
The case studies herein demonstrate the substantial personal risks facing those who confront the environmental, social and human rights impacts of mining. They document how those who speak out against mining often become the targets of threats and violence, including destruction of private property, forced displacement, death threats,arbitrary detention, kidnapping and even assassination. They also provide evidence of violations carried out with tacit acceptance of States.