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.
Toronto, Ontario – GUILTY. That was the verdict rendered by jurors this morning in a people’s trial against the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals outside the building where their shareholders were meeting behind closed doors. The testimonies delivered in the people’s trial were verbatim statements from claimants in ongoing lawsuits against HudBay brought by Guatemalans in Ontario courts and an eviction notice issued to the company by the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation in Manitoba. The mock trial convened by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network involved a 15-foot tall puppet representing HudBay’s CEO David Garofalo along with other larger than life props, including a 4-foot judge’s gavel.
The charges against HudBay concerning its former Fenix mine in Guatemala included the murder of community leader and school teacher Adolfo Ich, the gang rape of 11 women in Lote 8 during a forced eviction, and the shooting of German Chub Choc who was left paralyzed. One testimony the jury heard was from Angelica Choc, the widow of Adolfo Ich. Part of her statement read: “It is very painful to remember such shocking tragedy. The days since my husband was killed have been very hard. There has been no justice. The man who killed Adolfo still has not faced the courts. And the mining company, Hudbay, has not been held accountable. My five children have lost a father; I have lost my husband; and our community has lost a leader. We need justice for these losses.”
Another piece of testimony in the people’s trial was an eviction notice from the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation (MCCN) rejecting extractive activities on their traditional, treaty, and reserve territory. The MCCN has issued several stop work and eviction notices to HudBay, most recently this past February, and has offered to work together with the government of Manitoba in good faith to resolve the conflict. That offer continues to be ignored.
Jennifer Mills from the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network said, “HudBay Minerals has done everything it can to avoid its day in court here and in Guatemala. While we continue to support the communities pushing forward these processes, we felt we had to bring the charges to light here in front of their AGM where they can’t ignore us.”
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:
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!
Joanne Jefferson and I co-wrote the following article for Alternatives Journal, check it out on their site.
The scene was absurd: four activists, each with a bundle of 75 black and gold helium-filled balloons, riding an escalator. As we reached the top, we clipped our banner to the bundles and let go, watching our work rise slowly toward the hundred-foot ceiling of the lobby of a downtown Toronto office tower. Suddenly there were security guards rushing toward us. One of them jumped to make a grab for the bottom edge of the banner. We held our breath. He missed by mere inches and groaned. And then for just a moment, everyone in the lobby was standing still, staring up, as our huge painted banner rose until the balloons bumped and jostled against the ceiling. The bold red letters made our message clear: “HUDBAY MINERALS, CORPORATE CRIMINALS.”
Outside on King Street, we joined the group of protesters who had already been standing in the pouring rain for more than two hours. A banner just like the one we had raised inside was stretched out, soaked, between two elders from the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation. They had traveled from northern Manitoba to confront Hudbay at this shareholder meeting where important decisions were being made by people who may have a financial stake but whose lives will never be directly impacted by the actual workings of any of the company’s mines.
Hudbay Minerals is one of several Canadian-owned mining companies censured by environmental activists, human rights organizations and more recently by mainstream media for carrying out violent forced evictions, murdering a community leader who resisted one of their mines, robbing Indigenous peoples of their lands, supporting brutal police and security operations and criminalizing anyone who has tried to resist their mining projects around the world and here in Canada. Hudbay has gained increasing attention recently because they are the first Canadian company to be tried in Canadian courts for crimes committed at mines overseas.
Activists infiltrate mining luncheon, distribute a dose of reality
Today, the Canadian Club of Toronto invited major players in Canada’s mining industry to a formal luncheon and panel discussion entitled “The Challenge to Lead.” However, attendees who have ties with communities impacted by these Canadian operations expressed grave concern. Given the poor track record of Canadian mining companies at home and abroad, individuals were left questioning the legitimacy of Canada’s extractive industry claiming leadership in Corporate Social Responsibility.
Pierre Lassonde, Chairman of Franco-Nevada Corporation, moderated a panel that included David Garofalo, President and CEO of HudBay Minerals, Rob McEwen, Chairman and Chief Owner of McEwen Mining, and Piotr Pikul, Partner at McKinsey & Company, on the challenges and opportunities facing the Canadian mining industry.
Rachel Small, an attendee who has worked with Latin American communities near a number of Canadian mines said: “Canadian mining companies have a long track record of committing human rights and environmental abuses at their mines around the world. We’re handing out these fliers that say ‘Corporate Criminals Taking Leadership’ to point out how absurd it is that a company like Hudbay, infamous for its poor social and environmental record, can speak at an event like this about being ‘global leaders’ in the industry.” After the fliers were distributed, event staff scrambled to retrieve and confiscate them.
In fact, HudBay Minerals made headlines last year when it became the first Canadian company to be tried in Canadian courts for crimes committed at mining operations overseas. Plaintiffs are trying to hold HudBay Minerals accountable for the actions of private security employed by the company, who allegedly shot and killed Adolfo Ich Xaman, a teacher and community leader in a town near their Fenix mine in Guatemala. Another lawsuit against the company alleges that private security gang-raped 11 women during a forced eviction from land to which the women and their Mayan communities hold ancestral rights according to a ruling by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court. These cases are proceeding in the Superior Court of Ontario.
McEwen Mining’s reputation is less than stellar. A 2012 complaint that communities near McEwen Mining’s Los Azules project in Argentina filed with Canada’s Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor claims that the company lied about the impact their open-pit copper mine would have on glaciers in the area, and that it violated a number of international standards. McEwen Mining refused to engage with the claim, effectively ending the only government process communities have access to in Canada to bring forward complaints.
Monica Gutierrez, an attendee from the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) responded after the panel: “These companies do have an international reputation, as they claim, but it’s definitely not one of trust or one that Canadians should take pride in. What does it say about Canada, if these companies, with their terrible records, are claiming leadership in setting the future direction for our country?”. In reference to the question of mining companies adhering to local laws, panelist Piotr Pikul said: “You just have to do it”. Communities near Canadian mines globally are waiting for companies to comply with this imperative.
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.”
Mathias Colomb Cree, Aamjiwnaang & Mayan Q’eqchi’ Stand Up to Hudbay Minerals and other Corporate Criminals
This Thursday and Friday, May 9th and 10th, join us at TWO events to learn about and take action to resist corporate impunity and the continued colonization of indigenous territories across Turtle Island and the world!
THURSDAY – RESIST CORPORATE COLONIALISM: Mathias Colomb Cree and Aamjiwnaang Speak out!
Thursday May 9th, 7-9pm, Beit Zatoun (612 Markham St, Toronto), free!
Join us at this sit-down event featuring Chief Arlen Dumas of the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation, multi-media presentations, speakers from impacted communities, and representatives of Idle No More.
Learn about the Mathias Columb Cree Nation’s struggle to stand up to mining company Hudbay’s efforts to criminalize them as they assert their rights to live off of and protect their land and waters as guardians of their territory.
Learn about Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities in their pursuit of justice for the violence carried out by Hudbay’s security forces in Guatemala.
The event will also feature Vanessa Gray from Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Vanessa is a founding member of ASAP (Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines) and organizes for Environmental Justice and against Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal proposal in her home of Aamjiwnaang/Sarnia.
FRIDAY – RESIST HUDBAY: A Protest to Hold a Canadian Corporate Criminal Responsible
Friday May 10th, 9:30am, 150 King St. West (outside of the building where Hudbay’s shareholders are meeting!)
Website Facebook event
Once a year, the board of directors of Hudbay, a Canadian mining company infamous for human rights abuses around the world, converge in downtown Toronto.
Come out on May 10th…
…in solidarity with Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities in their pursuit of justice for the violence carried out by Hudbay security in Guatemala.
…in solidarity with the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation as they stand up to Hudbay’s efforts to criminalize them as they assert their rights to live off of and protect their land and waters as guardians of their territory.
…to hold Hudbay accountable as its executives, board of directors, and powerful shareholders gather here in Toronto.
…to stand up to corporate impunity and the continued colonization of indigenous territories across Turtle Island and the world!
WHY SUPPORT THE RESISTANCE TO HUDBAY?
Around the world, Hudbay robs Indigenous people of their lands, destroys sensitive ecosystems, supports brutal police and security operations, and sues anyone who tries to resist their mining projects.
The Mathias Colomb Cree Nation has never been consulted by Hudbay or the province of Manitoba regarding Hudbay’s Snow Lake mining operation on their territory and has issued stop work notices to the company. In response to their peaceful gatherings at the mine site, the Mathias Colomb Cree Nation has also been served an injunction, making it illegal for the MCCN people to go on their own territory, which is now considered mining company property. The effect of this injunction is that the MCCN people who live off of the land have been instantly criminalized and considered in contempt of court for continuing to hunt, fish, and protect the land and waters of their own territory.
At the same time, this year, members of Indigenous Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities from Guatemala started a long and groundbreaking process of bringing Hudbay to trial here in this country for brutal shootings and 11 rapes by Hudbay security forces at their former mining project in Guatemala.