Sep 22, 2016
Paramilitary security personnel employed by Denver-based Newmont Mining's subsidiary Minera Yanacocha have allegedly beaten Maxima Acuna, 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize winner from Peru, and her husband on their own property. Approximately 80 personnel, with shields and helmets, entered the property to destroy the family's potato and yucca patch and assaulted them severely enough to require a trip to the hospital, according to the article at http://tinyurl.com/articleMaxima. Please sign the petition at http://tinyurl.com/petitionMaxima to demand that Newmont respect Maxima's property, ensure her safety and drop their harassing lawsuit against her. Watch and listen to Maxima's moving song in lieu of an acceptance speech at http://tinyurl.com/videoMaxima . Maria Gunnoe, the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize winner for North America and volunteer for Coal River Mountain Watch, sent the following letter to Newmont:
Gary J. Goldberg
CEO, Newmont Mining
Dear Mr. Goldberg,
My name is Maria Gunnoe. I am the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner for North America and also the 2012 recipient of the Wallenberg Medal for my human rights work. I plead with Colorado-based Newmont Mining and the Peruvian mining company Buenaventura to stop your attacks on Maxima Acuna and her family immediately. Drop the lawsuits against Maxima and issue an apology for your terrible treatment of her and her family. I personally would like to see a public statement from your companies that you would ensure Maxima’s safety and peace. It’s the least you could do.
I worked closely with the late Julia “Judy” Bonds, 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize winner for North America. We both received the Goldman Environmental Prize for our outspoken opposition to the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and the inhumane treatment of our people by the coal barons. I am currently a volunteer community organizer. When Jupiter Coal Company and their thugs attacked me and my family in 2007 because I testified to stop an illegal permit near my home, a global network of people and organizations came together. I, too, have had to fight the power of politics and money to save my land, my family’s lives and my community. I know what it means to live the life that Maxima and her family are being forced to live.
It creates terror in your heart and mind to know that people (and corporations) are out there that not only wish you dead but would also take your life and the lives of your children if given the chance. Please know and understand that our land is more than just rocks and dirt to us. It’s a spiritual connection that we share with our lands and water. It gives us life. Our lands are the only place we belong. Understand that folks like Maxima Acuna, Berta Caceres, Judy Bonds and I, along with so many more, come to our fights knowing that we could lose our lives. We hope that no one would stoop so low, but the assassination of Berta and your company’s actions against Maxima prove that you would.
Company thugs may threaten and torment us and use policemen and courts as tools, but you cannot break this spiritual bond that we share with our land. We must protect who we are and who our children will someday be. Maxima is a world away from Appalachia, yet I feel her pain and tremble with her fear as a fellow human and beg of you to do the same. Allow Maxima Acuna and her family to live in peace on their land without terrorizing them. Living in fear of dying is no way to live, and inflicting this upon another human is cruel and inhumane.
I stand in solidarity with Maxima Acuna, her family and her community against the ongoing mistreatment of people who live and love in the places slated for destruction.
2009 Goldman Environmental Prize
2012 Wallenberg Medal for Human Rights