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

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.

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.