Innovative Play Puts Spotlight on Violence at Canadian Mine in Guatemala: Ottawa Theatre Presentation Echoes Toronto Lawsuit

(Ottawa) Tuesday night, Ottawa organizations and Aluna Theatre will co-present a play about the final moments in the life of Guatemalan land rights activist, Adolfo Ich Chamán, right before his brutal murder at the hands of private security contracted to a Canadian mining company. The staged reading, The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich, juxtaposes quotes from government and company websites with transcribed interviews with a Toronto lawyer and Adolfo’s widow. The murder is the subject of historic hearings taking place this week in an Ontario courthouse.

“The power of this piece is in hearing the sanitized statements from the Canadian government and HudBay Minerals together with heartfelt statements about what Adolfo’s wife and neighbours saw,” comments Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. “These voices are usually reported in entirely different media and languages, with community members heard least of all.”

Canadian mining companies operating in Latin America and other parts of the world are frequently at the centre of conflicts, given the lack of enforceable measures to hold them accountable. Violence surrounding HudBay Minerals’ Fénix Nickel project in eastern Guatemala, however, may eventually get a full airing.

Adolfo’s murder is the focus of hearings in an Ontario courthouse this week. As part of three civil lawsuits against HudBay Minerals, the court is set to hear preliminary arguments about whether or not company headquarters can be held responsible for human rights abuses related to one of its subsidiaries abroad. Klippensteins, Barristers and Solicitors is representing Adolfo’s widow, Angélica Choc, who is in Toronto for the hearings.

“These cases are almost always mired in impunity in a country such as Guatemala,” remarks Brittany Lambert, coordinator of the Americas Policy Group of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. “But while the law fails to work for mining-affected communities, it is often used against them to impede their defence of land, water and other important values.”

Following the presentation of The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich, Guatemalan Indigenous activist Lolita Chávez will kick off a panel discussion about the criminalization of dissent in the Americas with participation from KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. Chávez has first hand experience of threats and accusations that she has had to fight through Guatemalan courts as a result of her activism against racial discrimination, mining, and hydroelectric project developments on Indigenous lands.

The performance and panel discussion takes place on Tuesday March 5th at 7:00 pm at the Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Street in Ottawa. Admission is by donation.

Event sponsors include the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Aluna Theatre, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, Peace Brigades International – Canada, MiningWatch Canada, Americas Policy Group a working group of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, Education in Action, Public Service Alliance Social Justice Fund, Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala, and mimundo.org.

More details on Facebook, here.

For more information, including interviews with the Creator, Artistic Director or cast member of The Last Walk of Adolfo Ich, contact:

  • Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439
  • Brittany Lambert, Americas Policy Group Coordinator, Canadian Council for International Cooperation, (613) 241-7007 x333