Territorio de los Pueblos Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee (Toronto, Canadá) – viernes, 26 de septiembre de 2014 – Decenas de personas asistieron a la conmemoración del 5to aniversario del asesinato de Adolfo Ich Chamán supuestamente perpetrado por las fuerzas de seguridad de Hudbay Minerals. La conmemoración planteó el apoyo a las comunidades indígenas maya q’eqchi’ de la región de Izabal, Guatemala en su demanda contra Hudbay y se realizó paralelamente con una conmemoración en El Estor, donde ultimaron a Ich Chamán.
El ajq’iij Tata Bartolo, guía espiritual maya quiche, llevó a cabo la ceremonia organizada por la Red de Solidaridad Contra la Minería Injusta (MISN por sus siglas en inglés) y la red Rompiendo el Silencio provincias marítimas-Guatemala (RES). Asistieron más que 40 personas a la conmemoración, vestidas de negro, con candelas y fotos de Ich Chamán.
La actividad se inició en la sede principal de Hudbay Minerals (25 York Street, Toronto, Ontario) a las 18h del viernes y tuvo una fuerte carga emotiva y un componente político provocador. “Pensamos que es importante tener ceremonias mayas para honrar la vida de Adolfo Ich Chamán y pedir justicia no solamente en el territorio q’eqchi’ en Guatemala, pero también aquí en Toronto frente a la sede de Hudbay,” indica Caren Weisbart, miembro de RES. Tras la conmemoración, que duró una hora, se realizó una procesión por el centro de la ciudad de Toronto, durante la cual se distribuyeron panfletos denunciando a Hudbay.
Angélica Choc, esposa de Ich Chamán, indicó: “Si mi esposo estuviera aquí hoy día, diría que las comunidades q’eqchi’ son un pueblo milenario. Diría que rechazamos la forma en que la minera ha operado en nuestra comunidad. Que debemos exigir justicia por los daños que nos ha causado. Diría que debemos continuar en la lucha.
Antecedentes: Desde 1960, las comunidades maya q’eqchi’ de la región de Izabal han sufrido a manos de las mineras canadienses propietarias del proyecto de níquel Fénix – asesinatos, desalojos violentos, violaciones, tiroteos, y la criminalización del disentimiento son sólo algunos ejemplos del abuso. El 27 de septiembre del 2009 Ich Chamán, respetado poblador que se pronunciaba abiertamente en contra de la minería, fue violentamente ultimado por las fuerzas de seguridad contratadas en el proyecto minero Fénix de Hudbay Minerals. Residentes de El Estor han presentado tres demandas en Ontario en contra de Hudbay por el asesinato de Ich Chamán, la violación colectiva de once mujeres de la comunidad Lote Ocho, y la parálisis de Germán Chub, causada por arma de fuego.
MISN es un grupo de voluntarios/as basado en Toronto que colabora estrechamente con comunidades afectadas por la industria extractiva con objeto de apoyar la autodeterminación de las comunidades, educar a la población canadiense, y responsabilizar a las empresas.
RES es una red de solidaridad fundada en 1988 para apoyar al pueblo guatemalteco en su lucha por la justicia política, social y económica.
Back in March, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and Breaking the Silence launched a call for solidarity with Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala who have been resisting violence from Canadian mining companies (most recently Hudbay Minerals) for over 50 years. The signed solidarity statement was to be delivered to claimants as the trial against Mynor Padilla was set to begin, representing an important step towards justice for the the communities who have been actively defending their territory, their lives and their communities through their resistance against the mining project.
On April 3rd, we announced that the criminal trial against Mynor Padilla, former head of security for the mining project, for the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán and the shooting of seven others was being postponed. Victims and family members pointed out that the legal process to bring Padilla to justice has already been prolonged and impeded extensively. “They are misleading us and trying to exhaust us in our pursuit of justice,” stated Angelica Choc, the wife of Adolfo Ich.
Two weeks ago, the criminal trial against former head of security for Hudbay Minerals was delayed once again – this time until September. This trial represents one way community members are seeking justice for the countless acts of violence that Q’eqchi’ communities have faced – and continue to face – at the hands of Canadian mining companies. We decided that it was important to bring this powerful act of international solidarity to the claimants now, to support them through this drawn-out process.
And so, we delivered this petition with over 1500 signatures from 27 different countries, alongside hundreds of messages of support from around the world (all translated into Spanish) to German Chub and Angelica Choc in her home, steps away from where her husband was murdered by Hudbay’s former head of security. Both were deeply touched and wished to extend their gratitude to everyone who supported this action, who have spoken out against human rights abuses committed by Canada’s Hudbay Minerals, and who continue to stand in solidarity with them in this struggle.
However, international solidarity in this case is far from over. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that we work to hold Hudbay accountable!
Tomorrow, May 8th, many of us will be gathering outside Hudbay’s headquarters in Toronto while Hudbay shareholders meet for the company’s Annual General Meeting. While the closed-door meetings take place inside, CEO David Garofalo – represented by a 15-foot puppet! – will stand accused in a people’s trial of crimes committed against Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi communities in Guatemala, and for violating the inherent land rights of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in Manitoba, Canada. For those who are in Toronto, we invite you to please join us in solidarity with these affected communities, and help us serve justice to these corporate criminals.
More info on the event here: http://mininginjusticesn.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/may-8th-hudbay-agm/
Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/757394004304839/
And to stay in touch with this and other struggles and solidarity efforts from around the world, please sign up for our email newsletters:
– Breaking the Silence – http://www.breakingthesilenceblog.com/
– Mining Injustice Solidarity Network – http://www.solidarityresponse.net/
Public Memorial Held in Toronto After Assassination of Teenage Activist Resisting Goldcorp/Tahoe Resources Mine in Guatemala
On May 1st, as Goldcorp announced the year’s profits at their annual shareholder meeting in Vancouver, more somber events were happening in Toronto and in Guatemala to hold the same company accountable for the murder of 16-year-old mining resistance activist, Merilyn Topacio Reynoso Pacheco.
In Toronto, over 60 people gathered on Adelaide Street in front of Goldcorp’s offices for a memorial to honour Topacio’s life and to denounce the violent and cowardly act that killed her. At the same time, Topacio’s family, friends and community members were gathering in Guatemala to commemorate her activism and leadership, and to demand justice for her death.
Topacio was assassinated by unknown gunmen on April 13th in Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, Guatemala. Her father, Edwin Alexander Reynoso who accompanied her at the time, was also shot and remains in critical condition. Both Topacio and her father were active in the resistance against Canadian company Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine, in San Rafael las Flores, Santa Rosa. Topacio, along with her work as the Youth Coordinator of the Resistance in Mataquescuintla, was also a poet and musician.
Canadian company Goldcorp owns a 40% share in the Escobal mining project which Topacio and her father have been resisting in defense of their community’s right to prior consultation, self-determination and human rights. At her funeral, Topacio’s mother promised: “The resistance doesn’t end here, my love.”
“One of the ways we can honour Topacio’s life and her mother’s promise is to stand here today and denounce Goldcorp for their responsibility in this act of violence, as well as in all of the violations of human rights and environmental rights that community members have faced since the mine opened in their region,” said Rachel Small, a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN).
Attendees heard some of Topacio’s poetry, her favourite music, and speakers who shared messages of solidarity and a commitment to continue to support this struggle. Candles, flowers, and a large painted banner that said “Rest in Power, Topacio” filled the busy downtown corner as people expressed their collective sadness, anger, and determination, as well as a moment of silence.
As the memorial was taking place, 36 international human rights, environmental justice, and solidarity organizations delivered a letter to Guatemala’s Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz, demanding justice for the attacks against Alex and Topacio Reynoso. “We condemn this violent attack and call on your office to conduct a full and impartial investigation to ensure that that those responsible are brought to justice,” the letter states.
The document also identifies other incidents of violence and injustice that have occurred in communities surrounding the mine, including two occasions when police violently evicted a peaceful, legitimate, and legally located encampment outside the mine. The former head of security for the mine is currently facing charges for shooting peaceful protestors during one of these instances.After the memorial, participants joined in the annual May Day march through Toronto streets, sharing with hundreds of people the message that Canadian mining companies must be held accountable for their actions. In solidarity with the international M4 movement, many dipped their hands in red paint symbolizing the destruction of health and the environment brought about by Goldcorp’s mines.
More images by Allan Lissner:
April 3, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Puerto Barrios, Guatemala – Indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ victims of a September 2009 violent attack outside a then-Canadian owned nickel mine were once again disheartened when it was announced today that the criminal trial of Mynor Padilla, former head of security for the Compañía Guatemalteco de Níquel (CGN), was postponed. Padilla’s trial for the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán and the shooting of seven others on September 27, 2009 was set to open on April 4th but has been postponed until April 24th. An administrative error was cited as the reason for postponing the opening of the trial. Victims and family members point out that the legal process to bring Padilla to justice has already been prolonged and impeded extensively. “They are misleading us and trying to exhaust us in our pursuit of justice,” stated Angelica Choc, the wife of Adolfo Ich.
“In the four and a half years since the violent events of September 2009 took place, victims, witnesses, and family members have struggled through a long and frustrating series of legal processes in order to have justice served,” said Jackie McVicar, of the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network (BTS). “We are deeply concerned by this delay as it represents one further act of impunity in this case. At the same time, we see primarily Canadian mining companies swiftly accessing the justice system when it is convenient for them, as we have seen in Santa Rosa and Jalapa near Tahoe Resources Escobal silver mine, where there have been over 100 trumped up complaints against community members – none of which lead to criminal convictions due to lack of evidence,” she continues. “We call upon the court to prevent further delays and ensure that this important trial can begin,” urges McVicar.
“The crimes that will be considered in this case comprise just a small number of the countless acts of violence Indigenous Q’eqchi’ communities have faced at the hands of Canadian mining companies operating on their territory over the past five decades,” said Rachel Small of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN). MISN and the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Solidarity Network initiated a campaign to support those working for justice in these cases. The solidarity statement, which was signed by over 1300 people from 25 countries supports the victims of these violent crimes and their families. It reads: “We stand in solidarity alongside all victims of violence carried out by mining companies in the region, the Maya Q’eqchi’ community of El Estor, and all those who defend their land, communities, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Know that we stand with you today, tomorrow, and in the struggles to come.”
At the time of the attack in 2009, Mynor Padilla was the head of security for the mine, under the ownership of Canadian company Hudbay Minerals and its local subsidiary CGN. He has been accused of the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán, a respected Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader, father of six, and an open critic of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by corporate mining activities. Padilla will also be tried for the shooting of seven others the same day that Ich Chaman was murdered, near El Estor, Izabal. Haroldo Cucul Cucul, German Chub Coc, Alejandro Chuc, Ricardo Acte Coc, Samuel Coc Chub, Alfredo Tzi Ich, and Luciano Choc all were victims of gunshot wounds. One man, German Chub, lives with a number of serious medical conditions as a result of the shooting, including a collapsed lung and a spinal cord injury that has left him paraplegic.
In a series of separate civil cases being heard in Canada, Hudbay Minerals and CGN are being tried for these shootings and the murder of Ich Chamán. In addition, the company is being tried for the gang-rape of 11 women in 2007 in a nearby community during a violent land eviction.
Representatives from communities across Guatemala that have faced violence at the hands of Canadian mining companies have committed to traveling to Puerto Barrios when the trial opens in order to be present to show their solidarity for those seeking justice. “People from across Guatemala are speaking out against the violence in their community since the arrival of mining companies that have started working without consent. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only place where violent attacks have happened, but is part of a trend of violence and repression surrounding Canadian mines, at the hands of private security hired by the companies,” laments McVicar. In April 2013, six unarmed men who were peacefully protesting outside Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine were shot. Two of the men suffered serious injuries and this incident lead to the arrest of Alberto Rotondo, also the then-head of security of the company.
Despite grave and ongoing violence, Indigenous communities near the nickel mine in Izabal have been resisting encroachment on their territory by a series of Canadian mining companies for over 50 years. The commencement of the criminal trial against former head of mine security, Mynor Padilla, is an important step towards justice for the communities who have been actively defending their territory, their lives and their communities through their resistance against the mining project. Angelica Choc, the wife of Adolfo Ich, issues a call for unity: “Let all of us who are fighting in defense of our territories unite to demand that justice be served.
Please distribute widely.
For more information, please contact:
In Guatemala: Jackie McVicar, Breaking the Silence: (502) 4824-0637 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In Canada: Monica Gutierrez of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network: (416)788-1767 or email@example.com
We’ve launched a call for solidarity with Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala who have been resisting violence from Canadian mining companies (most recently Hudbay Minerals) for over 50 years. On April 4th they’ll be bringing a landmark criminal case to court in Guatemala and I will be showing up on behalf of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and Breaking the Silence to bring the statement of solidarity as well as all signatures and endorsements we’ve gathered to the courthouse!
Murders. Violent forced evictions. Rapes. Land thefts. Shootings. Criminalization of dissent.
Q’eqchi’ communities in the Izabal region of Guatemala have faced an onslaught of these and other abuses over the past five decades at the hands of a series of Canadian mining companies who have owned the Fenix Nickel Project.
On April 4th 2014 a criminal trial will begin in Guatemala to seek justice for some of the countless acts of violence communities have faced – and continue to face – at the hands of these mining companies. On this day, Mynor Padilla, the former Head of Security for the mine, under the ownership of Canadian company Hudbay Minerals and local subsidiary CGN, will be tried for the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán. Ich Chamán was a respected Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader, father of six, and an open critic of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by corporate mining activities. Padilla will also be tried for the shooting of seven others on the same date, September 27, 2009 near El Estor, Izabal: Haroldo Cucul Cucul, German Chub Coc, Alejandro Chuc, Ricardo Acte Coc, Samuel Coc Chub, Alfredo Tzi Ich, and Luciano Choc. One man, German Chub, lives with a number of grave medical conditions as a result of this shooting, including a collapsed lung and a spinal cord injury that has left him paraplegic.
In a series of separate civil cases being heard in Canada, Hudbay Minerals and CGN are being tried for these shootings and the murder of Ich Chamán, while Hudbay Minerals is additionally being tried for gang-rapes committed in a nearby community during an eviction.
Despite grave and ongoing violence, Indigenous communities in the region have been resisting encroachment on their territory by a series of mining companies for over 50 years. The commencement of the criminal case against former head of mine security, Mynor Padilla, is an important step towards justice for the the communities who have been actively defending their territory, their lives and their communities through their resistance against the mining project.
In the four and a half years since the violent events of September 2009 took place, victims, witnesses, and family members have struggled through a long and frustrating series of legal processes in order to have justice served. They are calling upon allies to join them in solidarity as the criminal trial begins on April 4th. Angelica Choc, the wife of Adolfo Ich, makes the request clear: “Let all of us who are fighting in defense of our territories unite to demand that justice be served.”
We want to make sure everyone involved in this struggle knows that they are not alone.Please sign and endorse this letter as a statement of your solidarity and concern with those harmed during the events of September 27, 2009, and with all other victims of violence carried out by mining companies in the region, the Maya Q’eqchi’ community of El Estor, and all those who defend their land, communities, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Solidarity Statement:
We also stand in solidarity alongside all other victims of violence carried out by mining companies in the region, the Maya Q’eqchi’ community of El Estor, and all those who defend their land, communities, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We know that today is but one step in the long journey towards justice, towards the reclaiming of your territory, towards safety, peace and self-determination for your communities.
Know that we stand with you today, tomorrow, and in the struggles to come.
In remembrance of all of those who have fallen, and with admiration for the strength and dignity of all of the women and men who have participated in this struggle.
I will be bringing the statement of solidarity as well as all signatures and endorsements to the courthouse as the trial begins on April 4th, 2014.
On March 2nd, I had the pleasure of celebrating an amazing milestone in La Puya alongside at least one thousand others. The day marked two years of fierce peaceful resistance against a mining project by U.S.-owned company Kappes, Cassiday and Associates (formerly owned by Canadian Radius Gold).
Communities have maintained a blockade at the entrance to the mine at the spot named La Puya, located between the municipalities of San Pedro Ayampuc and San José Del Golfo, on the road between the latter town and the village of El Carrizal. This area is situated about 25km from Guatemala City. Nearby communities are concerned that the mining project will cause severe harm to the environment and affect the health and livelihoods of many while providing little local benefit.
[The entrance to the mine, obstructed by a blockade that has been maintained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for two years.]
The blockade began two years ago, when one woman decided that she had had enough and proceeded to park her car near the entrance to the mine, preventing trucks and mining equipment from entering the site. Other community members quickly joined her protest, transforming the roadblock into a peaceful, community-based resistance movement that became known as La Puya.
[The entrance to the blockade site.]
Over the past two years residents from nearby communities have organized themselves into shifts, ensuring that a peaceful human blockade is maintained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In May 2012, 25 trucks with machinery guarded by 40 police patrol cars tried to get into the mine. Families on site at La Puya spread the word and 2000 people from surrounding communities united at the blockade, stopping the entry of all vehicles.
[The blockade is enclosed by banners highlighting community positions regarding the mine and the solidarity of supporting groups from around the world.]
As per the UK-based Guatemala Solidarity Network: “It should be noted here that the water requirements alone in this ‘dry corridor’, some 40,000 gallons per day, will affect a far wider area as the water table is exploited, as indeed will the water contamination leaching back into the soil from tailings etc. The extraction licenses were approved by the then Government’s National Director of Mines shortly before the change of Government at the end of 2011. This person is now the General Manager of KCA’s Guatemala subsidiary, EXMINGUA. This is how politics and business function all over.”
[A large map at the site showcases the numerous mega-projects in operation or development in the region.]
[Early on March 2nd, a resident prepares a giant vat of soup to feed the thousand guests who will come to the blockade to celebrate its second anniversary].
[“The right to defend Mother Earth is our freedom.”]
[A team prepares thousands of tortillas for the visitors who will arrive in the afternoon.]
Around 1,000 people joined a march to commemorate the anniversary and protest future mining plans.
In addition to celebrating two years of resistance, La Puya is celebrating the fact that, just a few days earlier, the contracting company supplying the mining equipment to KCA broke their relationship with the American company which owns the mine and pulled out all machinery permanently.
[A banner carried by a local group of high school students reads: “The life of all living beings is more important than mining. Let us all unite and say NO MORE MINES”]
[Angelica Choc and Anamaria Bac Seb, Q’eqchi women from El Estor and La Revolucion in the department of Izabal, show their solidarity with La Puya as members of allied communities resisting mining incursions on their land.]
[The march moves from the town of San José del Golfo towards the blockade.]
[A welcoming banner quotes from the Guatemalan Constitution: “The resistance of the people is legitimate for the protection and defense of the rights and guarantees designated in the Constitution.”]
[A banner posted reads: “Solidarity from Turtle Island!”]
I was honoured and immensely touched to have been able to participate in the day’s celebration. While leaving I was handed a sheet of paper with the following poem by Otto René Castillo, a Guatemalan poet and revolutionary who was ultimately, in 1967, captured by government forces, tortured, and killed:Nada podrá contra la vida
contra esta avalancha
Contra este rearme del hombre
en sus más nobles estructuras.
contra la fe del pueblo
en la sola potencia de sus manos.
contra la vida.
contra la vida,
contra la vida.
– Otto René Castillo
For more information on the past two years of resistance at La Puya, see this excellent timeline published by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission.
On April 4, 2014, the criminal trial of Mynor Padilla will begin in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala. Padilla is charged with the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán, and the wounding of at least ten others on September 27, 2009 near El Estor, Izabal. The victims of these violent crimes and their families are calling upon allies to join them in solidarity in Puerto Barrios as the trial begins.
Witnesses allege that Mynor Padilla, the head of security at the time for Hudbay Minerals/Compañía Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN) opened fire on a group of villagers in El Estor who opposed forced evictions and other human rights violations in relation to Hudbay/CGN’s Fenix mining project.
At the time that these violent incidents took place, CGN was the wholly-owned Guatemalan subsidiary of HudBay Minerals, a Canadian mining company. HudBay and CGN are also currently facing civil lawsuits in Canadian courts for their role in the killing of Adolfo Ich, the shooting-paralyzing of German Chub and the gang-rapes of 11 women from the nearby community of Lote 8 during a forced eviction.
On September 27, 2009, a series of community protests took place in response to fears that further illegal evictions of Q’eqchi’ communities in the El Estor region would be carried out by HudBay Minerals/CGN. Mine company security personnel reacted to the protests with violence. Individuals who were wounded in the attack include: Haroldo Cucul, Santos Caal Beb, and German Chub Choc, from barrio La Union; Alejandro Acte, Ricardo Acte, and Samuel Coc, from the community of Las Nubes; and Alfredo Tzi and Luciano Ical, from barrio El Chupon.
Adolfo Ich Chamán, a widely known and respected local teacher, community leader, and father of four was specifically targeted and killed. Witnesses state that armed security used their shotguns to push him away from the gathered crowd before a security guard hacked him with a machete and Mynor Padilla shot him in the head.
On the same day, German Chub, a young local man and father of one, was watching a soccer game near the fence that separates the community of La Union from mining company buildings, when security personnel arrived. German alleges that he was shot by Mynor Padilla in another unprovoked attack.
German lives with a number of grave medical conditions as a result of this incident. “I have suffered devastating and permanent injuries because of the shooting. The bullet badly damaged my spinal cord, so I am now a paraplegic. The bullet also punctured and collapsed my left lung. My left lung no longer works.”
In the four and a half years since these events, victims, witnesses, and family members have struggled through a long and frustrating series of legal processes in order to have justice served for these violence crimes.
Despite an order issued for Padilla’s arrest shortly after events in September 2009, he remained at large. Company officials confirmed that he continued to be on paid leave from his work as head of security and remained on the CGN payroll for at least the following year. In response to the perceived unwillingness of the Public Prosecutor’s office to enact the arrest warrant, community members went before the Human Rights Section of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in December 2010 to demand that the Ministry of the Interior take immediate action. They likewise demanded that investigations be conducted impartially, in response to concerns that the Compañía Guatemalteca de Níquel (CGN) was corrupting community leaders and proposing witnesses who were not present at the moment of Chamán’s murder.
Padilla was arrested on September 25, 2012, after having remained a fugitive from justice for almost three years. The trial is scheduled to begin on April 4, 2014, eighteen months after the arrest.
Angelica Choc, the widow of Adolfo Ich, speaking of her thoughts leading up to the trial, said, “I only hope that everything will go well on the 4th of April. That the laws are followed, that the authorities conduct their work appropriately and without being manipulated.”
[Activists in Toronto, the city where HudBay Minerals is based, march in support of the communities harmed by Canadian mining projects around the world. Photo: Allan Lissner]
Throughout this process, supporters both in Guatemala and internationally have expressed solidarity and concern for the safety of the family of Adolfo Ich Chamán, while denouncing his murder as a targeted act of violence against a respected Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader and an open critic of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by corporate mining activities. They have also stood in solidarity alongside the other victims of violence carried out by CGN, the Maya Q’eqchi’ community of El Estor, and all human rights defenders who defend their land, land rights, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
When the trial opens in April, those who will be serving as witnesses, as well as the families of victims – all of whom have faced significant risk throughout this process – call upon allies to join them at the courtroom to demonstrate their solidarity.
Angelica Choc makes the request clear: “Let all of us who are fighting in defense of our territories unite to demand that justice be served.”
Those unable to attend the trial in person should stay tuned for information on opportunities to stand in solidarity from afar.
After having been away from Guatemala for two years, I am fortunate to have been able to return for two months! During this – albeit short – trip, I aim to visit with, and publish articles, videos, and updates, from communities in resistance to at least three different Canadian-connected mines (as pictured below): the Fenix Mine in Izabal (formerly owned by Hudbay), the Marlin Mine in San Marcos (owned by Goldcorp), and the Escobal mine in Jalapa (owned by Tahoe Resources, and partially by Goldcorp).
In addition to working to disseminate info on the struggles surrounding these mines, I hope that the meetings I have with communities in resistance will help to inform the solidarity work that the group I organize with, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN), will carry out in shareholder season. During that time, in April and May, these and other mining companies will hold their AGMs in Canada, many of which will take place in Toronto. See here for a peek into what we got up to during last year’s shareholder season!
I’ll be posting both quick updates and longer articles/videos on this blog, and look forward to any feedback, as always!
This evening we received the news of an amazing victory in the long and ongoing struggle of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities that have suffered at the hands of Canadian company Hudbay. The Superior Court of Ontario ruling, which allows for the claims of 13 Mayan Guatemalans to continue to trial in Canadian courts, sets a new precedent for holding Canadian companies accountable here for crimes committed overseas. While this struggle for justice is far from over, today represents a significant victory in the larger work of chipping away at mining impunity at the Canadian and global scale.
To quote Rights Action:
“We are grateful to and in awe of the Mayan Qeqchi people who – despite on-going poverty, despite already having suffered great repression, despite on-going threats – took the decision to seek justice and remedy in Canadian courts. We are deeply grateful to Klippensteins for taking on these now precedent setting legal cases, on a ‘pro bono’ basis, and demonstrating both the legal brilliance and heart-felt commitment to stay with this much needed legal struggle in Canadian courts. Thank-you to all who have donated funds in support of the health and humanitarian needs, and the justice and reparations struggles of the mining harmed people and communities in El Estor. This struggle for justice and remedy is far from over; more support is needed.”
July 22, 2013, Toronto, Canada: In a precedent-setting ruling with national and international implications, Superior Court of Ontario Justice Carole Brown has ruled that Canadian company Hudbay Minerals can potentially be held legally responsible in Canada for rapes and murder at a mining project formerly owned by Hudbay’s subsidiary in Guatemala. As a result of Justice Brown’s ruling, the claims of 13 Mayan Guatemalans will proceed to trial in Canadian courts.
“As a result of this ruling, Canadian mining corporations can no longer hide behind their legal corporate structure to abdicate responsibility for human rights abuses that take place at foreign mines under their control at various locations throughout the world,” said Murray Klippenstein, lawyer for the 13 indigenous Mayans. “There will now be a trial regarding the abuses that were committed in Guatemala, and this trial will be in a courtroom in Canada, a few blocks from Hudbay’s headquarters, exactly where it belongs. We would never tolerate these abuses in Canada, and Canadian companies should not be able to take advantage of broken-down or extremely weak legal systems in other countries to get away with them there.”
Hudbay argued in court that corporate head offices could never be held responsible for harms at their subsidiaries, no matter how involved they were in on-the-ground operations. Justice Brown disagreed and concluded that “the actions as against Hudbay and HMI should not be dismissed.”
“Today is a great day for me and all others who brought this lawsuit,” said Angelica Choc, a plaintiff and widow of Adolfo Ich. “It means everything to us that we can now stand up to Hudbay in Canadian courts to seek justice for what happened to us.”
“This judgment should be a wake-up call for Canadian mining companies,” said Cory Wanless, co-counsel for the Mayans along with Mr. Klippenstein. “It is the first time that a Canadian court has ruled that a claim can be made against a Canadian parent corporation for negligently failing to prevent human rights abuses at its foreign mining project. We fully expect that more claims like this one will be brought against Canadian mining companies until these kinds of abuses stop.”
This is the second significant legal victory for the Mayan plaintiffs this year. In February, Hudbay abruptly dropped its argument that the lawsuit against it should be heard in Guatemala, not Canada, after fighting tooth and nail over this issue for over a year, forcing survivors of rape to travel to Toronto to endure extensive cross-examination and the legal team to spend countless hours compiling stacks of evidence, expert reports, and witness testimony.
For more information about the claims, see www.chocversusHudbay.com.
- Watch a short video filmed during the hearing in March 2013 when an Ontario judge heard pre-trial motions to dismiss the HudBay lawsuits (for which the ruling was issued today).
- Coverage on the demonstration outside of Hudbay’s Annual General Meeting, in support of indigenous communities in Guatemala and Manitoba in May 2013.
- An op-ed I wrote in October 2010, shortly after visiting the Mayan Q’eqchi’ community that has brought Hudbay to court, in which I share some of the stories that the women of Lote 8 (who were attacked and raped by Hudbay security) shared with me.
- See this post from May 2010 for a bit of background information on nickel mining and Hudbay’s involvement in the area
Chief Arlen Dumas of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) flew in from Manitoba to assert the rights of his community after Hudbay sued community members for hundreds of millions of dollars for holding peaceful gatherings at the Lalor Lake mine site. “Hudbay has been operating nearby for 80 years and has never consulted with us,” said Chief Dumas. Clayton Thomas-Muller, a member of the Pukatawagan CreeNation, also addressed the crowd. “Investing in disputed Indigenous Lands, not respecting communities’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent, trying to use the courts to suppress our Cree Nations’ sovereign right to say no, are all signalers that the board and CEO of Hudbay are both negligent and uninformed,” said Thomas-Muller. The MCCN has been served an injunction, making it illegal for their members to go on their own territory, which is now considered mining company property.
A determined group of supporters weathered the heavy rain outside, informing passers-by and holding signs, including “Death of our Land = Death of our Nation” and “Tailings Last Forever.” The Eagle Heart singers and drummers kicked off the gathering and continued to express their solidarity through song. Inside the lobby of the AGM venue (150 King St. West), activists released 300 balloons attached to a banner – reading “Hudbay Minerals, Corporate Criminals”- to express their message against Hudbay high up on the ceiling. Asked why she came to the protest, the Rev. Maggie Helwig, an Anglican priest said “Canadian mining companies are causing environmental havoc around the world. Hudbay is one of them.” In addition to denouncing the injustices faced by the MCCN, the demonstration also expressed concern over Hudbay’s behaviour in Guatemala, where the company’s security forces at their former mine raped, murdered and severely injured members of Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities in incidents in 2007 and 2009. These communities, who were peacefully defending their ancestral lands, are now seeking justice against Hudbay in Canadian courts. These ongoing cases represent the first time a lawsuit against a Canadian mining company over human rights atrocities abroad will be heard by a Canadian court. With regards to these cases around the world, Clayton Thomas-Muller stated that “these aggressive actions against the Mathias Colomb Cree and our relatives in the south shine a light on blatant mismanagement and the extremely high risk threatening Hudbay shareholder interests.”