The legal cases against Tahoe Resources are being carried out in a larger context of opposition to the Escobal mine. The violence, repression, and criminalization community leaders continue to face is not limited to what transpired on April 27, 2013.
The Escobal project depends on a militarized security strategy to suppress opposition and has led to violence and criminalization
- In 2011, Tahoe Resources hired a US security and defense contractor – International Security and Defense Management, LLC – that boasts experience with corporations working in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan to develop a security plan that has treated peaceful protest and community leaders as if they were armed insurgents.
- In June 2012, Tahoe sued the Guatemalan government, stating that protests were hindering its operations and that the State was not doing enough to allow its activities to proceed.
- Between 2011 and 2013, some 90 people were slapped with unfounded criminal charges and made to endure legal processes causing them distress and hardship. Several spent months in jail before being cleared of all charges.
- A Guatemalan court dismissed Tahoe’s lawsuit against the state in February 2013.
- Nonetheless, on March 26, 2013, the Guatemalan government secretly commenced a pilot initiative in San Rafael Las Flores called the “Inter-Institutional Group on Mining Affairs” that frames opposition to mining as a threat to national security. Coronel Ricardo Bustamante, Technical Secretary for the National Security Commission, oversees the group whose office in San Rafael Las Flores was set up with support from Tahoe Resources. Tahoe Resources refers to it as a “High Level Commission […] to address community issues and oversee security matters.” Guatemalan activists call it “counterinsurgency” and “a military intelligence operation.
- The Guatemalan government imposed a military siege in May 2013 in municipalities where people overwhelmingly voted against mining.
- The “inter-institutional project” continues; two military posts remain in the area.
There is broad opposition to the Escobal mine and additional exploration licenses
- To date, sixteen referenda have been held in which tens of thousands of people in the seven municipalities closest to the project have voted against the Escobal mine given their concerns over current and potential environmental and social impacts.
- On May 8, 2016, the largely Xinka Indigenous municipality of Quesada, Jutiapa held a plebiscite in which voters overwhelmingly rejected any mining activities in their territory.
- In 2013, the community of San Juan Bosco voted overwhelmingly against mining in a community consultation. San Juan Bosco is directly impacted by Tahoe’s Juan Bosco exploration license, located just seven kilometers from the Escobal mine.
- Mataquescuintla, where Tahoe’s Andres license is situated, held a referendum on November 11, 2012, in which more than 60% of registered voters said no to mining in the municipality.
- In December 2013, Guatemala’s highest court ruled in favor of Mataquescuintla’s referendum, calling it an “adequate means by which peoples may exercise their right to give their opinion and be consulted…”
- The Guatemalan Ministry of Energy and Mines dismissed some 250 formal community complaints without a proper hearing shortly before granting Tahoe’s exploitation license on April 3, 2013. In July 2013, the plaintiffs appealed the dismissal of a complaint and won, putting the validity of the license in doubt. A final decision from Guatemala’s Constitutional Court is pending.
Tahoe exploration licenses negatively impact indigenous lands and protected areas (See Maps)
- In Santa Rosa, Tahoe’s El Silencio reconnaissance license closely borders the Jumaytepeque Volcano protected area and the Private Natural Reserve of the Quesada Finca, territory that is communally owned and administrated by the Xinka Indigenous community of Quesada.
- The communally held Xinka territory of San Carlos Alzatate border the Escobal mine and is impacted by the Oasis III, El Olivo and Lucero holdings.
- Numerous Tahoe holdings in the department of Santa Rosa are close to the Lake Ayarza special protection area, including El Silencio, Puente Quebrado, Oasis II, Juan Bosco, Barrera, and the Escobal extraction license.
- The Alzatate Volcano protected area in the department of Jalapa is inside the Soledad reconnaissance license, and is bordered by the Lucero, Valencia and El Olivo concessions.
Given its close relationship to Goldcorp, Tahoe knows better than to proceed without community consent
- Until June 2015, Goldcorp held 25.9% of Tahoe’s shares and four of eight of Tahoe’s directors are current or former Goldcorp executives, including Tahoe founder and Chair of the Board of Directors, Kevin McArthur, who was CEO of Glamis Gold and Goldcorp until 2008. Goldcorp is no longer a Tahoe Resources shareholder, but ties to Glamis Gold and Goldcorp among Tahoe Resources’ management and board of directors remains as strong as ever.
- Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in Guatemala was put into operation in the midst of widespread opposition and repression. As a result, it has been the subject of repeat international human rights declarations calling for suspension of the mine and raising concern over impacts on community health, the environment and right to self-determination of neighboring Maya Indigenous communities.
- The Inter American Commission on Human Rights recently admitted a case against Indigenous and human rights.