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Tell Condor Gold to stop harassing families who don’t want industrial mining in Mina la India, Nicaragua. 

We, the below signed organizations, would like to express our outrage at the actions of Condor Gold, a UK-based mining company attempting to open an open pit mine in the community of Santa Cruz de la India in Leon, Nicaragua.
Seven community leaders from the municipality of Santa Rosa del Peñon, in the province of Leon, Nicaragua, are currently facing charges of aggravated damages brought forward by representatives of La India Gold SA, a subsidiary of UK based Condor Gold.
According to the company’s allegations, the leaders in question destroyed company property during a protest in the community of Santa Cruz de la India on May 27th.  However, members of Santa Cruz de la India Communal Movement, a group that has emerged as the main local opposition to Condor Gold´s La India mining project, argue that employees of the company were trespassing on community owned land that was illegally granted for exploration. Community members also expressed concerns about the risks the eventual excavations would pose for families living in the surrounding area.
The actions of the company represent the latest escalation against members of a community movement that since 2011 has denounced attempts by Condor Gold to set up operations at La India Mine despite relentless opposition from more than 300 families who will face displacement should the project proceed. 
A letter released by the leaders of the movement in early June denounced the company’s intimidation campaign to force local families to concede their property titles to give way to exploration activities.  They blame the company for generating divisions in the community, spreading false information about the benefits of mining, working in complicity with local authorities to deny access to public services such as electricity, water, and credit to those who oppose the mine, and for promoting the criminalization of public protest.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights, CENIDH, has expressed concerns about the actions of the company and the anomalies in the case proceedings at the local court. These include the admission of fabricated charges, the disproportionate sentencing in relation to the alleged crime, and lack of due process.  “These legal actions amount to the criminalization of the exercise of human rights such as the right to protest, freedom of expression, and the defense of the territory” states a publication released by CENIDH in early June.  
As civil society organizations that are concerned about the impacts of mining, we want to express our solidarity with the families affected by the actions of Condor Gold and join the Santa Cruz de la India Communal movement in demanding that:    
The company:
  • Immediately withdraws the false accusations made against community leaders Norlan Ulises Laguna Sánchez, Miguel Ángel Laguna Sánchez, Rafael Ángel Penado Salazar, Bernardo Laguna Vega, Juan Mauricio Rugama Mesa, Olman Onel Salazar Umanzor, and José Denis Flores Valverde.
  • Take measures to address the damage already done to the local public infrastructure. 
  •  Desist in its intentions to exploit La India Mina.
The Nicaraguan government:
  • Dismiss the case brought forward against the seven community leaders in the municipality of Santa Rosa del Peñón.
  • Cancel the exploration concessions granted to Condor Gold SA and La India Gold S.A.
  • Ensure compliance with the Nicaraguan Constitution and other laws to bring peace and security of the people of Mina la India.
  • Execute public works in order to guarantee access to a clean, potable water for the community
We call on all organizations and social movements to join in this demand by signing the petition form below.     
Testimonies from residents about the actions of the company attempting to buy out residents in Santa Cruz de la India.   
See local news video footage of community members protesting the presence of the mine and asking the talking about the impacts Condor Gold is having their territory.    

Background Mina La India: 

The Community of Santa Cruz de la India, borders the departments of Leon and Matagalpa, in Nicaragua. It is inhabited by 4,490 members whose main economic activity is artisanal mining known locally known as güirisería.
The community’s history of artisanal mining dates back to the 1930s and the practice currently accounts for at least 70 small gold processing operations, as well as several artisanal mining cooperatives engaged in the extraction and processing of gold.

According to data from the Nicaraguan Institute for municipal development – INIFOM, the land of La India Mine currently belongs to families living in 33 rural communities under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Santa Rosa Del Peñón.
Large multinational companies have an interest in the region due to its mining potential. Between 1938 and 1956, La India Gold Mine was owned by Canadian based Noranda Inc. which exploited the mine with an average annual production of 41 thousand ounces of gold and 39 thousand ounces of silver.  The mine closed in 1956 due a flood caused by the excavation of an 880ft deep tunnel which also resulted in the loss of the main water supply for inhabitants of the community. 
Currently, exploration of the region has been granted by the Nicaraguan government to UK-based, Cóndor Gold, which operates in Nicaragua through its subsidiary La India Gold SA, since 2008.  The company boasts 11 concessions in La India District alone with an extension of 313.26 km2   where it hopes to set up a mixed open pit/underground tunnel operation. It also owns four concessions in other regions (Boaca, RAAN, Nueva Segobia and La Libertad-Santo Domingo) adding a total exploration surface of 412 KM2 .
The presence of the company has generated vocal opposition from families who are facing mass evictions from their land to make way for the exploitation activities. Testimonies from local residents state that the exploration license has been assigned without the proper consultation process required by law, that the company is beginning exploration activities without obtaining the title to lands belonging to local residents and that local government institutions are working hand in hand with the company in a campaign of intimidation against local residents.     
Residents also report that local infrastructure has already been damaged as a result of exploration activities carried out by the company.  The damage has been verified by staff members of the Humboldt Centre, an environmental NGO based in Managua, who released a report stating that “the opening of trenches and drilling of exploratory wells to obtain rocks samples has damaged local water wells and lowered the groundwater levels compromising the availability of water for the community”.  The report also mentions that in 2015 company workers broke an underground water vein affecting local water supply and that members of the community report that at least 5 wells have dried up.
Given the threat of mass eviction, community members have organized themselves under the Santa Cruz de la India Communal Movement, a grassroots organization that has led numerous actions and mobilizations to stop Condor Gold from moving into their territory.   Their demands ask the company to cease and desist from the project and that the national government cancels the exploration license and that it restores the peace and security in the community of Santa Cruz de la India.