US Securities and Exchange Commission asked to investigate mining company’s failure to disclose secret lawsuits

News Release

August 11, 2016

(GUATEMALA CITY/OAKLAND/TORONTO) – The US Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) is being asked to investigate a Canadian mining company with offices in Reno, Nevada and operations in Guatemala. The Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP), based in Canada, will submit a thirty-five-page report on behalf of the US-based Network in Solidarity with Guatemala (NISGUA) and the Guatemala-based Diocesan Committee in Defense of Nature.

The report asks the SEC to determine whether Tahoe Resources Inc. has failed to meet legal requirements for disclosing human rights abuses and failed to disclose lawsuits that impact the Escobal mine. Tahoe claims strong community support for its Guatemala mine, but the JCAP report says that Tahoe’s annual report shows that opposition is so severe that it cannot connect its mine to the main power grid.  The SEC will determine whether Tahoe provided misleading information to investors.

“Human rights violations have been persistently committed against communities surrounding the Escobal mine, a project implemented without community consent,” says Becky Kaump from NISGUA’s office in Guatemala. “In calls for international advocacy we have denounced the direct violence, threats and criminalization carried out against community members.”

Tahoe denies responsibility for the threats and deaths surrounding its Guatemala mine, but seven farmers who were shot by Tahoe’s private security guards in April 2013 are suing Tahoe in British Columbia. The head of security for Tahoe, Alberto Rotondo, was charged, but escaped while awaiting trial in Guatemala. He was recaptured in January 2016 in his native Peru.

Shin Imai, professor at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, discovered the lawsuits brought by Tahoe to the Constitutional Court of Guatemala. “I was surprised to find that behind the scenes, Tahoe and mining supporters were bringing lawsuits to try to stop communities from holding referenda on mining. Even more surprising was the secret lawsuit against the President of Guatemala and a half a dozen other government agencies asking for protection from protesters who were impeding the project.” The JCAP report says that Tahoe has not disclosed any of these lawsuits, and this failure may contravene US law.

In January 2015, Norway’s $850 billion Government Pension Fund divested from Tahoe after conducting an investigation, concluding that Tahoe has and will likely continue to pose “an unacceptable risk of…contributing to serious human rights violations.”

For a backgrounder on Tahoe Resources and the basis for the SEC complaint, click here.

Copies of a summary of the report and the full report are linked here: Cover letter and SEC Disclosure.

For additional information or to arrange an interview

Shin Imai, lawyer (English or Spanish) Justice and Corporate Accountability Project simai@justice-project.org + 905-989-1327

Becky Kaump (English or Spanish) Network in Solidarity with Guatemala becky@nisgua.org  +502 5575 2058

Moisés Divas Santos, Director (Spanish only) Consejo Diocesano en Defensa de la Naturaleza xanpiya@gmail.com    +502 5158 3503

Press release: ‘Wanted’ posters featuring photos of Tahoe Resources’ executives and managers posted in Toronto, Nevada, and Vancouver

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Toronto, Canada: Over four hundred ‘wanted’ posters affixed to walls, posts, and newspaper boxes greeted Tahoe Resources shareholders on their way into the mining company’s 2016 shareholder meeting this morning. The posters highlight charges against various Tahoe employees, ranging from ordering the shooting of residents to industrial contamination, as well as human rights and environmental abuses alleged by communities surrounding Tahoe’s flagship mine in Guatemala. Identical posters were also plastered across downtown Vancouver and Reno, the locations of Tahoe Resources’ Canadian and American headquarters.

Above: Hundreds of posters covered the streets surrounding the  Toronto Four Seasons where Tahoe Resources’ AGM was held this morning.

“We wanted to make sure that the executives and shareholders entering Tahoe Resources’ annual general meeting were forced to confront their company’s crimes and the violence that communities around Tahoe’s Guatemalan mine have been subjected to in the name of their corporate profits,” says Rachel Small, a member of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN), a Toronto based group.

On April 27th, 2013, Tahoe Resources’ private security opened fire on peaceful protesters outside the Escobal silver mine, in the municipality of San Rafael las Flores in southeastern Guatemala.The seven victims, allegedly shot at close range while attempting to flee, filed a lawsuit in June 2014 in Canadian courts against Tahoe for its role in the violence. The company requested that the court decline jurisdiction, arguing that paying for translators and the international shipment of evidence would be too costly and ‘inconvenient’. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow agreed and stayed the lawsuit in November 2015, encouraging the plaintiffs to instead file in Guatemala, despite well-documented evidence of corruption, and widespread impunity for violent offenses in Guatemalan courts. This judgment is currently being appealed.

Above: Posters plastered throughout Vancouver’s financial district

Alberto Rotondo, former military officer from Peru and security manager for Tahoe at the time of the shooting, escaped police custody by fleeing house arrest in late 2015 while awaiting trial in Guatemala for allegedly ordering security to open fire on protesters and then covering up the evidence. After approximately one month as an international fugitive from justice, Rotondo was detained in January by INTERPOL in Peru and is currently awaiting extradition back to Guatemala.

These lawsuits in Guatemala and Canada are only a small part of the bigger controversy surrounding Tahoe Resources’ Guatemalan mine. Since Tahoe Resources arrived in the region, Guatemalan community leaders opposing the mine have faced repression, criminalization and violence. Despite the conflict — or perhaps because of it — Tahoe rushed to put the mine into operation before establishing reliable mineral reserves, reaching commercial production in January 2014. Through 14 community-led consultations in six jurisdictions, over 50,000 people have voted against Tahoe’s mine and its expansion in the area.

Below: Posters mounted in Reno, Nevada, near Tahoe’s US headquarters.

The ‘wanted’ posters describe human rights and environmental abuses linked to this company including murder, criminalization of land defenders, and industrial water contamination. In addition to Kevin McArthur, Tahoe’s founder and CEO, and Alberto Rotondo, the posters feature Carlos Roberto Morales Monzón, facing trial for water contamination endangering the lives of residents near the Escobal mine; the unknown assailants who killed 16 year old youth leader Topacio Reynoso and severely injured her father; and Tahoe employees and associates for targeted criminalization and stigmatization of community leaders opposing the Escobal mine. Out of 90 baseless accusations filed against mining impacted community members between 2011-2015, only one case ever went to trial.

“While the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network dreams of a world where jails are not the main way we promote accountability and justice,” says MISN member Kate Klein, “Tahoe Resources and other Canadian mining companies are operating in a context where corporate impunity reigns. Their lawlessness is especially galling when compared with the intense criminalization and repression human rights and environmental leaders face. This cannot continue.”

____________________________________________________________

The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) is a Toronto-based volunteer group that works closely with communities impacted by Canadian extractive industries globally in order to support their self-determination, educate the Canadian public, and bring companies to justice.

Media contact: Rachel Small, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, 647-769-2472,mininginjustice@gmail.com.

High resolution versions of the wanted posters:
Wanted – Kevin McArthur, Tahoe CEO
Wanted – Alberto Rotondo, Head of Security
Wanted – Carlos Roberto Morales Monzón, mine manager
Wanted – Attackers of Topacio and Alex Reynoso
Wanted – Tahoe, criminalization

High-resolution photos available upon request.

For more information:
www.mininginjustice.org
www.tahoeontrial.net
#tahoeontrial
A timeline of Tahoe’s Escobal mine: http://bit.ly/1I2l3XZ

Tahoe Resources’ Former Security Manager Turns Fugitive

(Guatemala City/Ottawa/Tatamagouche) On Monday, plaintiffs in the criminal case against Tahoe Resources’ former security manager, Alberto Rotondo, were informed that he had escaped police custody. Rotondo is accused of having ordered private security guards to attack peaceful protestors outside the Escobal mine in southeastern Guatemala on April 27, 2013, wounding seven men.

“This demonstrates that the Guatemalan justice system, especially the National Civil Police, still suffers from high levels of corruption and influence peddling. The police failed to implement the judge’s order to ensure constant police supervision of Rotondo, now turned fugitive,” remarked Rafael Maldonado, Director of the Center for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS).

“The Public Prosecutor, however, acted professionally, immediately calling for the international capture of Tahoe Resources’ ex-security manager.”

Rotondo, an ex-military officer from Peru, was arrested on April 30, 2013 at Guatemala’s international airport while attempting to flee the country, but was granted house arrest. He was indicted on charges of causing serious and minor bodily harm to four of the seven men injured in the attack, as well as for obstruction of justice; crimes that could lead to up to 28 years in prison. The trial is set to begin January 20, 2016.

During the last two and a half years, the Public Prosecutor has twice appealed the decision to grant Rotondo house arrest, finally winning the appeal in October 2015. The decision was in process late last week when the judge requested to see Rotondo and found him missing. This was reported to CALAS on Monday.

“Rotondo’s escape puts justice further out of reach for these seven men, coming as it does on the heels of the British Columbia Supreme Court’s decision to decline jurisdiction over a civil lawsuit that these same men filed against Tahoe Resources for its role in the April 2013 violence,” comments Jen Moore for MiningWatch Canada.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow ruled that the case against Tahoe Resources should be heard in Guatemala, saying it would be inconvenient to hear the case in Canada.

“Justice Gerow ignored the fact that Tahoe Resources’ management has failed to show up to court in Guatemala when summoned for another legal case, just one indication of the tremendous power imbalances these men are up against in trying to sue a transnational corporation,” states Jackie McVicar for the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network.

Since receiving its exploration license in 2011 without the consent of the local community, Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine has been mired in conflict, and subsequent judicial proceedings. Over 50,000 people have voted against the mine’s operations and its expansion in the area. In response to peaceful protest, the company and the Guatemalan government have used repression, criminalization, and militarization to try to silence peaceful resistance to mining activities in the area, including the violent attack in April 2013, for which Rotondo is accused.

Contacts:

  • Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439
  • Jackie McVicar, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, btsguatemala(at)gmail.com (902) 324-2584
  • Megan Whelan, Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Guatemala (NISGUA), (510) 763-1403, megan(at)nisgua.org

Upcoming ‘Under Siege’ Speaking Tour: Peaceful Resistance to Canadian Mining and Militarization in Guatemala

(Ottawa/Toronto/Montreal) Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources and the Guatemalan government have used repression, criminalization and militarization to try to silence resistance to the company’s Escobal mine project, according to a forthcoming report from Guatemalan investigative journalist Luis Solano.

Solano will be in Canada from November 9 to 13, to present his findings about the militarization of communities in the area of the Escobal mine project, located in southeastern Guatemala. Events will be taking place in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.

For five years, communities affected by Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine have been peacefully defending their lands and livelihoods. Multiple plebiscites have been organized in which more than 55,000 people in seven municipalities have voted against the silver mine and proposed expansion plans. Despite their clear message, the company and the Guatemalan government, with tacit support from the Canadian Embassy, have continued to impose the project.

“The company has employed US and Latin American security contractors to design a militarized security strategy oriented to keep down local opposition to its mine,” remarks Luis Solano.

“The Guatemalan government has collaborated closely with the company to implement a counterinsurgency strategy that defines people who are peacefully defending their agricultural ways of life as a threat to national security and a target for military control and surveillance.”

The result has been persistent violence and conflict, including one incident for which Tahoe Resources is now being sued in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Norway’s Council on Ethics cited the risk of further human rights violations earlier this year when it recommended against investment in Tahoe Resources.

Luis Solano is author of the book ‘Oil, Mining and Power in Guatemala’, as well as an economist and political analyst. He works as an investigative journalist writing for diverse media outlets and organizations, such as Inforpress Centroamericana, El Observador and Plaza Pública.

MiningWatch Canada and the International Platform against Impunity commissioned his forthcoming report on the militarization of communities around Tahoe Resources’ Escobal project. He will travel to Geneva to present the report following his visit to Canada.

Solano’s findings are illustrative of a broader trend of the intensifying criminalization of mining-affected communities and their allies in connection with Canadian interests in Guatemala and the Americas, as documented by MiningWatch Canada, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group (ICLMG) and Voices-Voix.

“Increasingly, mining-affected communities and organizations that support them are being treated as if they are national security threats when they stand up for their land, water and ways of life,” remarks Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. “Meanwhile, with laws and government supports stacked in their favour, Canadian mining companies operating around the world continue to cause great harm and get away with it.”

Between November 9 and 13, Luis Solano will travel to Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal for public events and meetings. He will be available to speak with media.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact:

Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439, jen@miningwatch.ca

Public Events:
OTTAWA
Tuesday, Nov 10, 2015
7pm – 9:30pm
University of Ottawa
Vanier Hall (VNR), Room 5070
With guest Aniseto López, Miguelense Defence Front (FREDEMI), Guatemala
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/847622812016887/

TORONTO
Wednesday, Nov 11, 2015
6:30pm – 9pm
Friends Quaker House
60 Lowther Ave (near St.George subway station)
With guests Mónica Gutierrez & Francisco Ramírez Cuellar, Colombia
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1005815862772030/

MONTREAL
Thursday, Nov 12, 2015
6:00pm – 8:30pm
McGill University
Otto Maass Building, Room 112
With Pearl Eliadis, human rights lawyer, and guests
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/992424590798873/

Tour Supporters: Amnesty International Canada, Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability, Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine (CDHAL), Education In Action, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, L’Entraide Missionaire, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA), Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, MiningWatch Canada, Projet Accompagnement Québec Guatemala (PAQG), the Public Service Alliance of Canada Social Justice Fund, Coalition québécoise sur les impacts socio-envionnementaux des transationales en Amérique latine (QUISETAL), Territorio Libre, and Voices-Voix.

Shooting attack in Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, against opponents of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) – Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) – MiningWatch Canada – Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) – Projet Accompagnement Québec Guatemala (PAQG)

(Guatemala/Ottawa/Washington/Tatamagouche) Forty-eight international organizations are calling for an investigation into the second armed attack in as many years against a well-known activist who is part of the peaceful resistance to Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala.

On Saturday, October 17, Alex Reynoso – a human rights and environmental activist – was shot by unknown assailants while traveling with five others in Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, Guatemala. Two other men, Marlon Loy Dominguez and Estuardo Bran Clavel, were also injured in the attack.

Reynoso was first shot and injured in April 2014 in an assault that killed his 16-year old daughter, Topacio, a well-known youth activist. Both Alex and Topacio were active in the peaceful resistance against US-Canadian company Tahoe Resources, which announced commercial production at its controversial silver mine in 2014. Alex is currently in stable condition, recuperating from a gunshot wound in his lower back.

There has been constant opposition to the Tahoe Resources project since it was proposed in this largely agricultural area. Before the mine went into operation, tens of thousands of people in the area had voted in community and municipal plebiscites against any mining. In Mataquescuintla alone, in 2012, over 23,000 people participated in a local plebiscite, and 98.3% voted against mining. Reynoso played a key role in organizing the vote. During Guatemala’s elections in September 2015, local mayors, including the two-term mayor from Mataquescuintla, and councilors won running on anti-mining platforms.

“The attack wasn’t only against me, but also the local community development councils. We were at a meeting with the mayor to hear about the latest steps in the consultation process over mining and to thank the community for their work during the elections. On our way back home, the gunmen opened fire,” said Reynoso from the hospital.

Despite widespread public opposition to the project, however, Tahoe Resources maintains that it has had “great success” in educating local residents about the benefits of the project.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that people who oppose the Escobal mine have been attacked,” said Ellen Moore, Programs Coordinator with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). “There is a clear and documented pattern of violence and persecution of environment defenders and community leaders who oppose Tahoe’s mine project. Also consistent is the impunity that surrounds those crimes.”

In 2013, private security guards shot seven men who were part of a peaceful protest outside the mine site. The former head of security for the company was charged in connection with the shooting after wire-tap evidence indicated that he targeted peaceful protesters, then tried to cover up the crime and flee the country. In June 2014, the seven men filed a civil suit against Tahoe Resources in the British Columbia Supreme Court for negligence and battery in connection with the violence.

Alex Reynoso blames impunity for last Saturday’s attack: “There was already an attack in which Topacio was killed, and there was no investigation. That’s why they keep attacking.”

The letter sent from international organizations to Guatemala’s Attorney General calls for a full and impartial investigation, and for protection for Reynoso and others whose lives are at risk for defending their land, water and peace in their communities. The international organizations also called on Canadian and US Embassies in Guatemala to be attentive to the situation as it develops. They concluded by expressing their solidarity with the affected communities.

Despite repeat requests, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board has refused to divest from Tahoe Resources. The CPPIB holds a $26 million investment in the company. In January 2015, Norway’s Council on Ethics recommended against investment in Tahoe Resources due to “unacceptable risk of the company contributing to serious human rights violations through its operation.”

Click here to add your name to the call for a full and impartial investigation.

Contacts:

  • Amanda Kistler, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), 202-742-5832, akistler(at)ciel.org
  • Lisa Rankin, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, btscoordinator(at)gmail.com
  • Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439, jen(at)miningwatch.ca
  • Megan Whelan, Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Guatemala (NISGUA), (510)763-1403, megan(at)nisgua.org
  • Laurence Guénette, Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala, (514) 495-3131, paqg(at)paqg.org

Attachment:
Click here to read the full letter in English.
Click here to read the full letter in Spanish.

Tahoe Resources’ Administrative Manager detained on charges of industrial contamination

BTS-NISGUA-MiningWatchLogo

 

 

 

April 15, 2015

(Guatemala City/Ottawa) Monday, a Guatemalan judge denied bail to the Administrative Manager and Legal Representative, Carlos Roberto Morales Monzón, of Tahoe Resources’ subsidiary, Minera San Rafael S.A., and ordered him to pre-trial detention on charges of industrial contamination. The Guatemala’s Public Prosecutors’ Office for Crimes Against the Environment launched an investigation in 2012 into the company’s contamination of water sources near its Escobal silver mine. The trial date is set for June 12.

Tuesday, Tahoe Resources issued a press release downplaying the decision and Carlos Roberto Morales Monzón’s role in the company, referring to him as an “employee”, not the “mine manager”. Nonetheless, a February 2013 Constitutional Court decision refers to Mr. Morales Monzón as the Administrative Manager and Legal Representative for Minera San Rafael. The company also said it will appeal Monday’s decision.

“This is remarkable. Tahoe Resources now has two managers from the Escobal mine in pre-trial detention, beginning two years ago with the company’s former security manager who was detained on charges of assault and obstruction of justice. It will be even more remarkable if these cases continue to proceed,” stated Ellen Moore for the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala.

The criminal case, which carries a sentence of up to eight years in prison if convicted, is the result of a complaint that the Center for Social Legal Action in Guatemala (CALAS) filed for contamination of the Escobal Creek and the El Dorado River, located near the community of Los Planes, just steps from Tahoe’s project. The alleged contamination occurred while the project was still in the exploration phase.

The Guatemalan Ministry of Health confirmed that a discharge of water from the mine installations was contaminated with suspended solids. Around this same time, local residents were reporting that contamination was affecting water used for crop irrigation. Since then, community members have been denouncing increasing scarcity of water in the area immediately surrounding the project, similarly believed to be a result of Tahoe’s mine. This latter concern is not part of the legal process.

“With several legal processes underway against the company and its affiliates, along with ongoing community resistance to the mine and its expansion plans, it should be ever more clear to investors that this company is a dangerous investment,” commented Jen Moore for MiningWatch Canada.

The extent of local concern over negative environmental and social impacts, present and future, of the mine on water supplies and community wellbeing has generated widespread community opposition to the project. As of March 2013, tens of thousands had voted against the project in local plebiscites and residents had filed more than 250 specific complaints against the granting of Tahoe’s final permitting license. The Ministry of Mines and Energy dismissed the complaints without consideration immediately before granting the company a license in April 2013. A lawsuit is pending in Guatemala’s Constitutional Court for lack of due process in this regard, which has raised questions about the legality of Tahoe’s exploitation license.

Protests that emerged in the wake of the Ministry’s hasty decision to grant Tahoe’s final permit faced police repression and an armed attack by company security guards on April 27, 2013 that left seven men injured. This latter event is the subject of a criminal case in Guatemalan courts against Alberto Rotondo, former security manager for Tahoe Resources, accused of having ordered and then attempted to cover up the attack. The seven men have also brought a civil suit against Tahoe Resources in British Columbia for negligence and battery in connection with the shooting.

In January 2015, the Norwegian Ethical Fund recommended against investing in Tahoe Resources, citing “unacceptable risk of the company contributing to serious human rights violations through its operation” at the Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala.

Contacts:

  • Ellen Moore, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), ellen(at)nisgua.org, (510) 868-0612
  • Jackie McVicar, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, jackiebtsguatemala(at)gmail.com, (502) 4824-0637
  • Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439

For more information about this situation, follow tahoeontrial.net.

Wiretap transcripts raise troubling questions about Tahoe Resources’ militarized security detail

Source: Amnesty International Canada – MiningWatch Canada – Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)

April 7, 2015

(Guatemala City/Ottawa/Vancouver) Wiretap transcripts ordered by Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor of Tahoe Resources’ former head of security, Alberto Rotondo, in connection with an April 27, 2013 shooting outside its Escobal mine provide strong evidence that he targeted peaceful protesters, tried to cover up the crime and flee the country. The Public Prosecutor ordered the telephone intercepts roughly two weeks before this incident occurred, in apparent connection with suspicions over earlier violence at the mine site. The intercepts were originally presented in a public hearing in Guatemala in May 2013 at which Rotondo was charged with assault and obstruction of justice.

Hearings in a lawsuit brought by seven Guatemalan men wounded in this attack against Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources for negligence and battery are set to take place at the B.C. Supreme Court starting April 8, 2015. According to the statement of claim, Tahoe is accused of having expressly or implicitly authorized the use of excessive force by Rotondo and the security personnel against those injured, or was otherwise negligent in failing to prevent the use of excessive force. The wiretap transcripts have been filed in court as part of the lawsuit.

In Intercept No. 4010, in a conversation with Tahoe’s communications and security advisor, Rotondo makes clear his intention to quell protests against the mine through violence: “I ran them out with bullets […] Bring on the priest Melgar then, or women and children to defend them, weren’t you the real trouble-maker? That’s what I told all of them. Well then, sons of bitches! […] And I let them have it […] There is no way I am ever going to allow these people to get confident…”.

In Intercept No.4052, apparently speaking with one of the guards under his command, Rotondo continues: “They say that one has a, a bullet wound in the face and… if it exploded in their face, it’s with bullets that they learn.”

In the same intercept, Rotondo orders the evidence to be altered, while he concocts another version of events: “Clean the guns then […] Clean them well, we’re saying “nothing happened here.” There are no recordings. You understand me? […] The version is: they entered and they attacked us. And we repelled them, right? […] The people need to be told, that they should not worry, that they come every day to attack us, with machetes and rocks; and so the people have defended themselves. There are, there are the broken shields there. But break another two so that they see that they attacked us.”

It also seems that Rotondo coordinated with a police officer, referred to as ‘Adilio’ and known to local residents by the same name, to make sure that security guards and police told the same version about the events of April 27. Local activists also suspect that an individual acting under Rotondo’s direction, referred to as “El Moreno” in the wiretap evidence, had infiltrated their meetings.

Finally, during a phone call with his son in Lima, Peru, Rotondo informs of his plans to escape: “There have been problems here in Guatemala and it’s better that I’m away for awhile. Right? […] I kicked the crap out of a bunch of lazy bastards here. They can go to hell. So, to avoid legal issues and all that.”

Shortly after this last call, Alberto Rotondo was arrested at Guatemala’s international airport and charged with assault and obstruction of justice. Six farmers and one student were wounded in the attack. All of them are residents of the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores where the Escobal mine is located. Criminal proceedings against Rotondo are underway in Guatemala. The case has been subject to numerous delays since 2013.

On May 1, 2013, Tahoe Resources issued a statement trying to pin the blame elsewhere: “violence from outside influences,” accused the company, was responsible for escalating tensions around the mine site, and “a protest involving approximately 20 people armed with machetes turned hostile.” Days after the wiretap evidence was released at a public hearing in Guatemala on May 6, 2013, in an interview with iPolitics, Tahoe’s Investor Relations official Ira Gostin denied that the wiretap evidence had been made public and stated that claims that Rotondo ordered protestors shot were made-up. The transcripts show otherwise.

The company did not make another official statement about the event until July 10th when it reported having ended its contract with Rotondo’s firm. In later communications with the Norwegian Pension Fund cited in its recent report, Tahoe Resources “[denied] that Mr. Rotondo ordered the murder of demonstrators but did not wish to expand on this in view of ongoing proceedings.” The Norwegian Pension Fund concluded its investigation by recommending against investment in Tahoe Resources.

According to an affidavit filed by Tahoe’s Vice President of Operations, Donald Paul Gray, Tahoe originally employed Rotondo through a contract with the International Security and Defense Management, LLC, a U.S. company based in California and led by former military personnel with experience in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under recommendation from ISDM, Rotondo was later directly contracted by Tahoe’s Guatemalan subsidiary Minera San Rafael. Rotondo formerly served with the Peruvian navy and, according to his LinkedIn page, has received U.S. military training in physiological warfare and counter-terrorism in low intensity conflicts at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The civil claim that the seven men filed against Tahoe Resources for its actions overseas is the first of its kind to be heard in B.C. The wiretap evidence and other declarations were submitted as part of this process. The hearings this week, pursuant to a motion brought by Tahoe Resources to dismiss the case, will address whether it is best heard in B.C. or Guatemala.

Tahoe Resources is incorporated under the B.C. Corporations Act and has its headquarters in Vancouver. Goldcorp, whose Marlin mine in northwestern Guatemala has been an ongoing source of conflict with neighbouring Indigenous communities for over ten years, holds 40% of shares in the company and annually names three directors to the company’s board.

Amnesty International Canada, MiningWatch Canada and the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) have been monitoring and reporting on this case for the last several years.

Copies of the wiretap evidence and declarations referred to in this press release are linked here: wiretap evidence and Donald Paul Gray’s affidavit.

Contacts:

Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439, jen(at)miningwatch.ca

Megan Whelan, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), (510) 763-1403,  Megan(at)nisgua.org

Tara Scurr, Amnesty International Canada, 604.294.5160 x102, TScurr(at)amnesty.ca

Norwegian Fund Divests from Tahoe Resources, Canadian and U.S. Investors Urged to Follow Suit

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

(Ottawa/Guatemala) North American shareholders in Tahoe Resources should follow the Norway’s Council on Ethics’s lead and divest say Canadian and U.S. organizations. They urge Canadian and U.S. investors to make use of a report published last week that recommends the exclusion of Tahoe Resources from the from the Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) portfolio due to “unacceptable risk of the company contributing to serious human rights violations through its operation” at the Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala.

After considerable investigation, including communications with Tahoe Resources and information gathered from diverse sources such as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala, the Norwegian Council determined that the project poses a high level of risk given insufficient consultation processes, considerable resistance to the mine, inadequate measures to avoid human and Indigenous rights abuses and militarization of the area.

“With this report in hand, it should be a no brainer for U.S. and Canadian investors to drop their shares in this company whose operations represent a tremendous risk to the lives and wellbeing of thousands of residents in communities in San Rafael Las Flores and area,” remarks Jen Moore Latin America Program Coordinator at MiningWatch Canada.

The Council did not believe Tahoe’s claims that the apparent calm around the Escobal mine is a sign of support for the mine. The report reads: “…the company’s statement that the situation in and around SRLF is now more peaceful than in the months preceding the state of emergency [in May 2013] is probably correct. As the Council understands it, this is due to the militarization occasioned by the conflict.” The Council attributes militarization with breaking up organized resistance and a temporary stoppage of local consultation processes.

“Even before the military state of siege was imposed on municipalities, military presence and repressive tactics were ramped up, in part due to a so-called ‘development’ office in San Rafael Las Flores with backing from Tahoe and oversight from a military colonel. It is encouraging that the Norwegian Council on Ethics recognizes that what has been growing in the area is fear, not support for this project,” comments Ellen Moore from the Network for Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA).

Before the state of siege, communities in the area held fourteen referenda, in which tens of thousands of people in the six municipalities closest to the project voted against the Escobal mine given their concerns over current and potential environmental and social impacts. A pilot project in San Rafael Las Flores overseen by the National Security Commission and referred to as the “Inter-institutional Group on Mining Affairs” was initiated in March 2013. As well, since the siege, a permanent military presence has been established in the area.

The Council also found that Tahoe failed to take adequate steps to prevent further abuses after private security guards shot at peaceful protesters outside the mine gate on April 27, 2013. Two separate lawsuits against Tahoe’s then head of security and the company in connection with this incident are ongoing in Guatemala and Canada respectively. Overall, the Council finds that Tahoe’s policies and training standards are not enough to guarantee that the company will not continue contributing to human rights violations.

The Canadian Pension Plan most recently reported that as of March 31, 2014 it holds $49 million CAD worth of shares in Tahoe Resources. As of 2013, U.S. based TIAA-CREF, considered to be a socially responsible financial services company specializing in the needs of the non-profit and education sector, held some $5 million USD worth of shares.

Online letters can be sent calling on the CPPIB to divest here and to the TIAA-CREF here. A new map illustrates the relationship between company holdings and affected communities.

Contacts:
Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439
Ellen Moore, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA), ellen(at)nisgua.org, (510) 763-1403

See a backgrounder on Tahoe Resources for more information.

Tahoe Resources’ former security manager to be tried in Guatemalan court

Source: Center for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS) – MiningWatch Canada – Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA)

(Guatemala City/Ottawa) On Wednesday, a Guatemalan judge decided that Tahoe’s former security manager, Alberto Rotondo, should stand trial for his role in a shooting attack on peaceful protesters in April of last year.

On April 27, 2013, Tahoe Resources’ private security opened fire on peaceful protesters outside the Escobal mine, the company’s only project, in the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores in southeastern Guatemala. Rotondo, Tahoe’s then head of security and an ex-military officer from Peru, was arrested at Guatemala’s international airport and charged with allegedly having ordered the attack. Continue reading

Guatemalans file lawsuit against Canadian mining company for 2013 shooting

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Vancouver, June 18, 2014. Seven Guatemalan men filed a civil lawsuit today in a Vancouver court against Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources Inc. for injuries they suffered last year when Tahoe’s security personnel opened fire on them at close range. The men, residents of San Rafael Las Flores, where the company’s Escobal mine is located, allege that Tahoe is legally responsible for the violence inflicted on them as they peacefully protested against the mine.

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