Guatemala Environmentalists Win Case Against Canada Mining Firm

By Telesur | January 27 2017
The area near the El Escobal silver mine in southeast Guatemala has been a scene of conflict since Tahoe Resources was granted a mining license.

Seven Guatemalan men won an appeal Thursday against Tahoe Resources Inc in a Canadian court, which ruled that their lawsuit accused the miner’s private security guards to have shot them can proceed in British Columbia.

“There is some measurable risk that the appellants will encounter difficulty in receiving a fair trial against a powerful international company whose mining interests in Guatemala align with the political interests of the Guatemalan state,” ruled the court.

In June 2014, the seven Guatemalan men accused the company of being responsible for a violent attack in April 2013 when private security opened fire on peaceful protesters outside the controversial Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala. Video footage revealed the demonstrators were shot at close range while fleeing.

The win comes after the Supreme Court in British Columbia refused to hear the case in November 2015, saying that it fell under Guatemalan jurisdiction.

For the full article, click here. 

Guatemalans’ Fight Against Rogue Canadian Mining Giant Heats Up

by Telesur | August 11th 2016

Communities in Guatemala have repeatedly voiced their opposition to a Tahoe Resources silver mine. The company chose to ignore it … and worse.


Canadian mining giant Tahoe Resources came under fresh fire Thursday for bulldozing human rights in Guatemala as two organizations filed a complaint in the United States calling for a probe into whether Tahoe executives lied to investors.

The California-based Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (Nisgua) and the Guatemalan Diocesan Committee in Defense of Nature (Codidena), represented by the Canada-based Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, submitted a 36-page report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency that oversees financial securities laws. The report details why Tahoe should face careful scrutiny and be held liable under U.S. law for failing to disclose to investors key details about local community opposition and human rights concerns swirling around the contentious Escobal silver mine.

For the full article, click here.

Canadian company tried to stop referendum on mine in Guatemala

by  | Toronto Star | August 11th 2016

A Toronto legal aid group is calling on the American securities regulator to investigate a Canadian mining company for failing to disclose a secret lawsuit aimed at preventing a referendum on its silver mine.

Even though the 2011 suit was rejected by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala — permitting a vote that overwhelmingly rejected the mine — local human rights groups say the mine’s parent company, Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources, failed in its legal obligation to disclose the lawsuit to investors.

“Publicly traded companies have an obligation under securities legislation to disclose truthfully on matters that may affect their operations. Here we have a case where they are hiding significant opposition,” said Shin Imai, a York University law professor who prepared the report on behalf of two Guatemalan rights groups.

For the full article, click here.

More than 99% of participants in the Quesada municipal consultation oppose mining

Written by NISGUA.

This weekend, the municipality of Quesada, Jutiapa held a consultation in which 99% of voters expressed their firm opposition to resource extraction activities taking place in their territories. Consultations organized at the community and municipal levels have been one of the many ways Guatemalans have organized in defense of their lands and waterways, as they attempt to prevent transnational megadevelopment projects from operating without the free, prior and informed consent of impacted communities.

In total, more than 50% of registered voters participated, with 8,072 votes against resource extraction and 8 votes in favor.

This municipal consultation in Quesada was the first to take place in the department of Jutiapa, despite the fact that Goldcorp has had a presence in the eastern part of the department since 2007. The Canadian mining company has attempted to put its Cerro Blanco mine into operations, but was unable to proceed given high underground water temperatures – something that was not accounted for in the inadequate feasibility study. While Goldcorp announced in 2014 that the mine’s development was being put on hold until further notice, communities have never been consulted nor given their consent to the project that will negatively affect the waterways in eastern Guatemala and El Salvador.

Other municipalities in bordering departments have held municipal consultations as one strategy to express opposition to the presence of Tahoe Resources, and attempt to stop the company from expanding beyond its Escobal silver mine in San Rafael las Flores.

The municipality of Quesada is mostly Xinca territory, with the Xinca Parliament playing a big role in the administration of communal lands and daily affairs of the community.

“Companies are talking behind our backs with the government, negotiating away our land without our consent,” says Aleisar Arana, current president of the Xinca Parliament and one of the organizers of the consultation. The Xinca authorities have played an important role protecting the area for generations, and Alesiar Arana sees it as a natural extension to protect lands in the face of transnational resource extraction.

Jaime Guadalupe López Hernández, a member of the Quesada Civil Society Organization in Defense of Nature and one of the volunteer organizers of the consultation, also expresses the importance of protecting land for future generations.


Jaime Guadalupe López Hernández

“This is Xinca territory and as Xinca organizations, our ancestors bestowed upon us both the rights and the obligation to protect Mother Earth,” he says, standing outside one of the four voting stations. “We want to give this same land to future generations so that they can enjoy what we’ve inherited.”

With the Cerro de Flores as a backdrop to the consultation, Jaime is clear in what the communities are fighting to protect.

“This Cerro has its stories. Officially, it’s named ‘Volcán Amayo,’ but it’s known to us as the Cerro de Flores. There is incredible diversity here – with trees, animals, flora and fauna. This mountain is filled with fresh water, apt for human consumption. These water sources could disappear with mining,” he continues.

Jaime is right to be concerned. After only two years of commercial production at the Escobal mine, surrounding communities have already reported wells drying up.

“Reports say that even smaller-scale mining uses the same amount of water in one hour that a typical family uses in 20 years. The chemicals they use in mining operations present a risk to the health of our communities if they get into the water supply.”

Yolanda Elisa Castañeda de Morales, another organizer with the Quesada Civil Society Organization in Defense of Nature echoes Jaime’s statements and says, “We are working here because we want to protect the environment – primarily the water – because we depend on it for life. We have important spring sources here in the municipality of Quesada.”


Yolanda Elisa Castañeda de Morales

Jaime also expresses the value of solidarity across peoples in the country. “In Guatemala, we have lots of cultures who continue to exist and fight to not disappear,” he says. “Today, we have representatives of the Ch’orti’, Quiche, and Xinca peoples. This cultural diversity is a strength and real richness to our country. They have come to join in our cause today, and we will also join theirs when there is need.”

The Guatemalans who are taking human rights cases against mining companies to Canadian courts

by | 8th December 2015 | @kennejen

Guatemalans who have been the victim of alleged human rights abuses at the hands of mining companies are taking lawsuits to Canada.

Concerned that justice cannot be achieved in Guatemala, several plaintiffs have taken legal action against two mining companies for human rights violations committed by their subsidiaries.

For the full article, click here.



Under Siege: Peaceful resistance to Tahoe Resources and militarization in Guatemala

Report by Luis Solano.

Almost from the moment Canadian-US mining company Tahoe Resources acquired the Escobal silver project from Goldcorp over five years ago, the company and the Guatemalan government have used repression, criminalization, and, ultimately, militarization to try to silence peaceful resistance to mining activities in the area. Instead of treating local residents as people peacefully defending their lands from the negative impacts of mining on their health, water and agriculture, Tahoe Resources’ militarized security strategy seemed designed to face an insurgency.

Read the full report here.
Read the summary here.

Crumbling political support for Tahoe Resources in Guatemala

Article co-written by the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), MiningWatch Canada and the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS). 

If the militarized security strategy that Tahoe Resources has used to put its Escobal silver mine into operation isn’t enough to raise questions about the ethics of the company’s operations in Guatemala, the recent resignation of Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina should be. Pérez Molina stepped down on September 2 after Congress voted to strip him of his political immunity. A week later, he was indicted on charges of illicit association, customs fraud, and bribery for his involvement in a customs network that robbed tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Rewind to July 2013, when former President Otto Pérez Molina made a personal site visit to the Escobal mine located in San Rafael las Flores in the department of Santa Rosa. The visit took place just a few months after Tahoe’s head of security was arrested for his role in the shooting of seven peaceful protesters and a subsequent month-long military state of siege was imposed on four municipalities in the area. While at the mine, Pérez Molina mingled with workers and filmed a national television address affirming support for the project.

For the full article, click here.

Guatemalans Are Taking Their Democracy Back

By Sandra Cuffe, Truthout, June 13, 2015

Guatemalans are clamoring for change, pouring into the capital city’s central plaza on a weekly basis. From massive national mobilizations down to local consultations, defending territories from extractive industries, people all over Guatemala are taking action to take their country back from transnational corporations and the political, business and military elite.

The historic protests at the national level stem from a groundswell of outrage and indignation over revelations of widespread corruption within the highest levels of government. Guatemala prosecutors and the UN International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala cracked down on two major corruption rings within the National Tax Office and the Guatemalan Social Security Institute in April and May. The heads of both institutions have been arrested, along with the president of the country’s central bank and dozens of others inside and outside the government.

For the full article, click here.

Communities defend right to clean water, continue to speak out against Tahoe’s dirty mine

NISGUA Blog, June 12, 2015

In honor of World Environment Day, communities impacted by Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine did what they have consistently done since the mining company came on to their lands – stand up for land, water and life against mega-development extraction. The situation is critical: just over a year into the start of commercial production at the massive silver mine, water contamination and scarcity is already being reported and confirmed by community members, government officials and environmental organizations.

For the full article, click here.

Tahoe Resources, Vancouver mining firm, in court today over Guatemalan workers’ lawsuit

By Greg Rasmussen, CBC News, April 8, 2015 

Guatemalan protesters who allege they were shot by security guards want suit against firm heard in B.C.

B.C. Supreme Court hearings begin today into the case of seven Guatemalan workers seeking to have a civil suit against Tahoe Resources of Vancouver heard in B.C. after they sustained injuries in their country during a protest that turned violent.

Their lawyer will begin arguing Wednesday that B.C. courts have jurisdiction, even though the events took place in another country.

The claimants, who describe themselves as farmers and students, say they were taking part in a peaceful protest on a public road outside Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine in Guatemala on April 27, 2013. Tahoe is a $3-billion company based in Vancouver.

For the full article, click here.