Canadian mining convention ignores harsh reality of deadly industry

by , ,  | NOW Magazine | March 1, 2017

Canadian mining kills, but at the planet’s largest mining conference in Toronto this weekend, the industry will spin fantastical tales for investors that ignore the suffering of the communities bearing the brunt of its “successes.”

It’s been called the Superbowl or the Oscars of the resource extraction industry. And between workshops, cultural performances, the annual awards ceremonies, prime ministerial visits and the trade show – 2016’s convention even had a shoe-shining station! – it seems like an exciting place to be.

The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) convention, the largest mining and mineral industry conference and trade show in the world, happens every year in Toronto. This year’s 85th annual event takes place March 5 to 8 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, with some 25,000 people from more than 125 countries attending.

Promoters say the convention injects about $60 million annually into the Toronto economy. Tourism Toronto is a “Gold Plus” sponsor, alongside CIBC. “Platinum” sponsors Barrick Gold and Goldcorp, two of the industry’s biggest players, also happen to share a bad reputation for human rights violations and environmental damage abroad.

But the largely fantastical world of the PDAC convention exists far away from the reality of the communities bearing the brunt of these mining “successes.”

For the full article, click here.

Guatemalans appeal case against Tahoe Resources in Canadian court

Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) – Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) – Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)

Today, the British Columbia Court of Appeals in Vancouver, Canada will revisit a procedural motion in the case of seven Guatemalans who have brought a civil suit for battery and negligence against Tahoe Resources. The suit concerns the mining company’s role in a violent attack in April 2013, when Tahoe’s private security opened fire on peaceful protesters outside the controversial Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala. Video footage shows that the protestors were shot at close range while attempting to flee.

In November 2015, a BC Supreme Court judge refused jurisdiction and said the case should be heard in Guatemala. Lawyers for Tahoe Resources, which is registered in British Columbia and headquartered in Reno, Nevada, had argued that most of its business in done in the U.S., and Judge Gerow focused narrowly on the procedural costs and inconvenience of bringing the suit in Canada.

“Under international law, companies have a responsibility to protect human rights – no matter where they occur,” says Kelsey Alford-Jones, Senior Campaigner at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL). “To the extent that human rights abuses occur, business enterprises have an affirmative duty to avoid complicity in those abuses. Canadian and U.S. courts must hold their companies accountable for violations, full stop.”

Guatemala continues to be plagued by a high impunity rate, lack of judicial independence, and widespread corruption. The lead suspect in the criminal case filed in Guatemala and former head of security for Tahoe escaped police custody and fled the country just weeks after the BC Supreme Court decision was released in November 2015.

“The April 2013 attack is just one of numerous troubling human rights incidents in connection with Tahoe’s operations in Guatemala,” says Ellen Moore of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “The company’s argument that most of its business is conducted in Reno is preposterous – Escobal is its flagship project and was its only mine at the time of the attack. And while Tahoe desperately ties to outrun accountability first in Guatemala and now in Canada, it’s running out of places to hide.”

Since receiving its exploration license in 2011 without the consent of local communities, the Escobal mine has been mired in conflict, and subsequent judicial proceedings related to its exploitation license and industrial contamination of water. A recent complaint filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission questions whether Tahoe Resources Inc. has met legal requirements for disclosing human rights abuses and lawsuits that impact the Escobal mine to its shareholders.

“While Tahoe claims strong community support in Guatemala, by its own admission the local opposition is so intense that the mine cannot be connected to the main power grid,” says Becky Kaump from the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). “This is only oneexample of clear community resistance to the mine, and the April 2013 violence is only oneexample of the backlash organizers have faced for their opposition.”

Criticism of Tahoe’s operations spans the U.S., Canada, and Guatemala, and human rights defenders in all three countries have been calling on their governments to intervene to address ongoing repression and violence. Today, advocates in Vancouver, BC are outside the courthouse to show support for the Guatemalans bringing this suit forward.

For more information and background about this lawsuit and the broader community struggle, please visit www.tahoeontrial.net.

Contacts:

Kelsey Alford-Jones, Center for International Environmental Law (202) 742-5854 kalford@ciel.org

Ellen Moore, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (775) 348-7557 emoore@planevada.org

Becky Kaump, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (+502) 5575 2058 becky@nisgua.org

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.

IMG_2129

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.”

IMG_2151

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.”

Comunicado de Prensa: Toronto, Nevada y Vancouver empapeladas con afiches que indican que “se busca” a los ejecutivos y gerentes de Tahoe Resources

PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

miércoles, 4 de mayo de 2016

Comunicado de Prensa: Toronto, Nevada y Vancouver empapeladas con afiches que indican que “se busca” a los ejecutivos y gerentes de Tahoe Resources.

Toronto, Canadá: Inversionistas de Tahoe Resources se toparon esta mañana con más de 400 afiches de “se busca” por las calles que llevan a la asamblea general de la empresa este año. Los afiches resaltan los cargos contra varios empleados de Tahoe, que van desde ordenar que se abra fuego ante pobladores hasta contaminación industrial, al igual que los abusos a los derechos humanos y el medio ambiente que alegan las comunidades cercanas a la mina más importante de Tahoe, en Guatemala. Los mismos afiches aparecieron por las calles del centro de Vancouver y Reno donde se ubican las sedes canadiense y estadounidense de Tahoe Resources.

“Queríamos corroborar que los ejecutivos e inversionistas que asistieran a la asamblea general de Tahoe Resources se vieran obligados a afrontar los crímenes de su empresa y la violencia que han vivido las comunidades cercanas a la mina de Tahoe en Guatemala en nombre de las ganancias empresariales”, indica Rachel Small, miembro de la Red contra la Minería Injusta (Mining Injustice Solidarity Network – MISN) de Toronto.

El 27 de abril del 2013, el personal de seguridad de Tahoe Resources abrió fuego ante un grupo que se manifestaba pacíficamente enfrente de la mina de plata Escobal, en el municipio de San Rafael las Flores, en el suroriente de Guatemala. Las siete víctimas, que supuestamente fueron agredidas con armas de fuego al intentar huir, presentaron en junio del 2014 una demanda contra Tahoe en los tribunales de Canadá por su rol en la violencia. La empresa solicitó se desestime la demanda amparándose en la doctrina de fórum non conveniens, alegando que los gastos de traducción y envío internacional de pruebas serían demasiado costosos y “engorrosos”. La jueza Laura Gerow, magistrada del Tribunal Supremo de Columbia Británica se mostró de acuerdo con la empresa y suspendió la demanda en noviembre del 2015, sugiriéndoles a los querellantes que presentaran la demanda en Guatemala, a pesar de la evidencia de corrupción claramente documentada, y la impunidad generalizada en los tribunales de ese país en relación a crímenes violentos. Los querellantes apelaron la decisión.


[Afiches aparecieron por las calles del centro de Vancouver]

Alberto Rotondo, ex militar de Perú y jefe de seguridad de Tahoe cuando ocurrió el tiroteo, se encontraba bajo custodia policial en arresto domiciliario, pero escapó hacia finales del 2015, mientras esperaba el juicio en Guatemala por haber supuestamente ordenado que el personal de seguridad abriera fuego ante los manifestantes y luego encubrir la evidencia. Al cabo de alrededor de un mes de estar en fuga internacional, INTERPOL lo detuvo en Perú en enero. En la actualidad se encuentra a la espera de su extradición a Guatemala.

Estas demandas en Guatemala y Canadá no son sino una muestra de la controversia más generalizada que representa la mina de Tahoe Resources en Guatemala. Desde que la empresa llegó a la región, las y los líderes comunitarias/os que se oponen a la mina han debido afrontar represión, criminalización y violencia. A pesar del conflicto – o quizás debido a él – Tahoe se apresuró a iniciar operaciones en la mina antes de establecer la existencia confiable de reservas minerales, llegando a la producción comercial en enero del 2014. Más de 50,000 personas han votado en contra de la mina de Tahoe y su expansión en el área mediante 14 consultas comunitarias en seis jurisdicciones.

[Abajo: Afiches en Reno donde se ubica las sede estadounidense de Tahoe Resources.] 

Los afiches de “se busca” describen los abusos a los derechos humanos y al medio ambiente vinculados a la empresa que incluyen asesinatos, criminalización de defensoras y defensores de la tierra, y contaminación industrial del agua. Además de Kevin McArthur, fundador y director ejecutivo de Tahoe, y Alberto Rotondo, en los afiches figuran Carlos Roberto Morales Monzón, demandado por contaminación de agua poniendo en riesgo las vidas de quienes viven en proximidad a la mina Escobal; los agresores desconocidos que asesinaron a Topacio Reynoso, lideresa de jóvenes, de 16 años, e hirieron de gravedad a su padre; y el personal y socios de Tahoe por la criminalización y estigmatización de líderes comunitarios en contra de la mina Escobal. De las 90 acusaciones infundadas que se presentaron entre el 2011 y el 2015 en contra de pobladores que sufren impactos de la minería, sólo una llegó a juicio.

“Si bien la la Red contra la Minería Injusta espera el día que las prisiones no representen el mayor método para responsabilizar y hacer justicia, Tahoe Resources y otras mineras canadienses operan en un contexto donde impera la impunidad empresarial”, indica Kate Klein, miembro de MISN. “Sus operaciones tan al margen de la ley enfurecen aún más cuando las comparamos a la impresionante criminalización y represión que viven defensoras y defensores de derechos humanos y el medio ambiente. Esto no puede seguir así”.


La Red contra la Minería Injusta (MISN) es un grupo de voluntarias y voluntarios basado en Toronto que colabora estrechamente con comunidades afectadas por la industria extractiva canadiense en todo el mundo con objeto de apoyar la autodeterminación de las comunidades, sensibilizar a la población canadiense, y responsabilizar a las empresas.

Contacto: Rachel Small, la Red contra la Minería Injusta 647-769-2472mininginjustice@gmail.com

Versión de alta resolución de los afiches de “se busca”:
SE BUSCA – Kevin McArthur
SE BUSCA – Alberto Rotondo
SE BUSCA – Atacantes de Topacio y Alex Reynoso
SE BUSCA – Tahoe, criminalización 

Fotografías de alta resolución disponibles.

Para mayor información:
www.mininginjustice.org | www.tahoeontrial.net
Cronología de la mina Escobal de Tahoe en inglés:
http://bit.ly/1I2l3XZ

#TahoeEnLaMira

Traducido por Olimpia Boido. 

Security Footage – April 27, 2013

On April 27, 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, shot at close range and while attempting to flee, filed a lawsuit in Canadian courts against the company for its role in the violence.

Alberto Rotondo, former military officer from Peru and head of security for Tahoe at the time of the incident, is currently under arrest in Guatemala awaiting trial for allegedly ordering security guards to fire at protesters and then covering up the evidence.

Security footage taken from cameras at the Escobal mine was used as evidence in the civil case in Canada and the criminal case in Guatemala; this video shows a peaceful demonstration taking place outside the mine on April 27, 2013, and the subsequent shooting of protestors by private security.

B.C. Supreme Court Stays Lawsuit against Tahoe Resources, Denies Justice in Canada for Guatemalan Victims

Source: Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network – MiningWatch Canada – Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Guatemala

(Ottawa/Oakland/Tatamagouche) Canadian and US organizations are calling a British Columbia judge’s refusal to hear a lawsuit against Tahoe Resources over violence at its Guatemala mine site wilfully blind to the gravity of the case and the obstacles faced by the victims in bringing a transnational corporation to justice.

On Monday, November 9th, the BC Supreme Court declined jurisdiction over a civil lawsuit that seven Guatemalan men filed in June 2014 against BC-registered mining company Tahoe Resources for negligence and battery.

Six Guatemalan farmers and one student brought the suit against the company after being shot and injured by the company’s private security during a peaceful demonstration outside the Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala on April 27th, 2013. Daily protests were taking place in response to the Guatemalan government’s approval of the company’s final mine permit and dismissal, without consideration, of over 250 complaints based on local concerns over water contamination and health harms.

British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow ruled the case should be heard in Guatemala, focusing heavily on the procedural costs and inconvenience of bringing the suit in Canada. Justice Gerow’s ruling ignored evidence presented to the court about Tahoe Resources’ quasi-military security strategy at its mine site, which was developed well before April 2013 and involved contracts with groups specialized in psychological warfare and counter-terrorism.

“Documentation submitted to the B.C. court provides evidence that Tahoe Resources contracted security companies ready for war, not communities peacefully protesting threats to their water and farms. Justice Gerow gave far too much attention in her ruling to the violence that took place in Guatemala in April 2013 and not enough to how Tahoe Resources’ decisions contributed to or failed to prevent this from occurring,” states Jen Moore for MiningWatch Canada.

In her ruling, Justice Gerow chose to ignore the power imbalances between a transnational mining company and Guatemalan farmers that are almost certain to hinder justice in the Central American country. Notably, she shrugged off the fact that senior Tahoe Resources executives ignored subpoenas earlier this year and in 2014 to appear in a Guatemala court where their mine manager had brought trumped up charges against a community leader. Those charges were eventually dismissed.

“It is unclear what persuaded the judge to think that the victims could get a fair trial in Guatemala, where mining abuses are so prevalent and so poorly addressed. Guatemala’s impunity rate hovers above 90% for every sort of crime, and an international commission recently unearthed a series of massive corruption scandals that implicated high-level government officials, including a number of judges. Justice has never been served in Guatemala in terms of holding a foreign company to account and it is unclear why Justice Gerow thinks this case would be special,” comments Ellen Moore of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala.

“Perhaps it is a novel idea in the eyes of the B.C. judiciary to contemplate the connections between a Canadian company and its subsidiaries elsewhere. However, we urgently need B.C. courts to step up given that there are hundreds of mining companies that call Vancouver home, including many that are embroiled in conflicts abroad,” remarks Lisa Rankin from the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network.

“Justice is supposed to be blind to wealth and power, not turn a blind eye to abuse and impunity,” she concluded.

Contacts:

  • Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, jen(at)miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439
  • Megan Whelan, Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Guatemala (NISGUA), (510) 763-1403, megan(at)nisgua.org
  • Lisa Rankin, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, btscoordinator(at)gmail.com, (902) 324-2584