Four of 11 plaintiffs in a case brought against Hudbay Minerals, a Canadian mining firm, for crimes including gang rape in Guatemala. The women, all Indigenous Mayan, are pictured in a river near the new settlement of Lote Ocho, Guatemala, May 2014. Left to right: Lucia Caal Chun, Amalia Cac Tiul, Carmelina Caal Ical and Olivia Asig Xol. Photo: Roger Lemoyne
Canadian mining companies will now face human rights charges in Canadian courts
Canada is the undisputed powerhouse of the mining industry, home to 75 per cent of its companies — but the industry is plagued by allegations of rape and slavery abroad. Now those who feel harmed or violated can seek justice back in Canada
In April 2013, a group of Guatemalan farmers, among them Adolpho Augustin Garcia, converged outside the front entrance of Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine. Located in southeast Guatemala near the community of San Rafael Las Flores and operated by Tahoe subsidiary Minera San Rafael, the mine was already controversial even though it hadn’t yet begun production.
Garcia and fellow protesters faced off against private security personnel working for Alfa Uno, the firm that Minera San Rafael had contracted to guard Escobal, which went on to become one of the world’s largest silver mines, producing a world record 21.2 million ounces of silver concentrate in 2016. Lucrative as it potentially was, the mine was plagued by protests by the local Indigenous Xinca, small-scale farmers and community leaders, many of whom fear its impact on water and land.
That day, under the orders of the head of security, a Peruvian named Alberto Rotondo, personnel guarding the mine allegedly fired on protesters with rubber bullets as they fled the entrance. Seven were injured.
Six years later, this skirmish is reverberating throughout the Canadian mining industry and has the attention of the country’s legal system.
Read the full article in The Narwhal.