Monday, April 4, 2016

HudBay under fire for misdeeds in Guatemala and Peru: A preview of what the Rosemont mine will do to the Santa Ritas

We attended a showing of John Dougherty's documentary yesterday at the Change is Happening monthly program. An investigative journalist par excellence, John has been exposing hard rock mining companies for what they do to the environment and the people nearby their mines. His documentary, Flin Flon Flim Flam, details what mining companies, particularly Rosemont owner Canadian company HudBay, have done in Manitoba, Guatemala, and Peru.

Hudbay is under legal assault for what its subsidiary companies have done. The New York Times describes all the ugliness; snippets follow.

LOTE OCHO, Guatemala — Her husband was away in the fields, she said, when the truckloads of soldiers, police officers and mining security officials arrived. A half-dozen armed men swarmed into her one-room house, blocking her exit and helping themselves to the meal she had made for her children.

For a long time, the woman, Margarita Caal Caal, did not talk about what happened next that afternoon. None of the women in this tiny village high in the hills of eastern Guatemala did, not even to each other. But that day, Mrs. Caal said, the men who had come to evict her from land they said belonged to a Canadian mining company also took turns raping her. After that, they dragged her from her home and set it ablaze.

Mrs. Caal said the armed men who attacked her during the eviction were so brutal with her that she could not get up from the spot where they had left her. But when her husband asked what had happened to her, she told him only that she had fallen, afraid of how he might react.

It is still a subject she turns to reluctantly.

“Remembering is reliving,” Mrs. Caal said. “It hurts. It hurts as a woman.”

Canadian laws have long shielded Canadian companies from legal action in cases like this.

For decades, overseas subsidiaries have acted as a shield for extractive companies even while human rights advocates say they have chronicled a long history of misbehavior, including environmental damage, the violent submission of protesters and the forced evictions of indigenous people.

But that might be changing.

... Mrs. Caal’s negligence claim and those of 10 other women from this village who say they were gang-raped that day in 2007, as well as two other negligence claims against Hudbay, have already passed several significant legal hurdles — suggesting that companies based in Canada could face new scrutiny about their overseas operations in the future. In June, a ruling ordered Hudbay to turn over what Mrs. Caal’s lawyers expect will be thousands of pages of internal documents. Hudbay, which was not the owner of the mine at the time of the evictions, denies any wrongdoing.

Now not being a lawyer, I do not know if Hudbay will dodge this one, but another lawsuit takes on Hudbay for the murder of one local leader and the shooting of another.

In addition to the claims brought by Mrs. Caal and the other women who say they were raped in Lote Ocho, Hudbay, based in Toronto, is facing claims over the death of a prominent local leader, Adolfo Ich Chamán, 50, and the shooting and paralysis of a bystander, German Chub, 28, during demonstrations against mining in the nearby town of El Estor in 2009.

Hudbay officials also maintain that there was no negligence in 2009 when it did own the mine. Officials say the killing of Mr. Ich, a teacher, and the shooting of Mr. Chub, a farmer, took place as the mine’s security guards were defending themselves from armed protesters.

... some recent events appear to lend credence to the plaintiffs’ claims. The head of the mine’s security during the 2007 evictions and the 2009 shootings, a former army colonel named Mynor Padilla, is now on trial in Guatemala over the shooting of Mr. Ich and Mr. Chub.

Dougherty's documentary has footage of a standoff between indigenous protesters and a uniformed force. The only arms we see are those being used against the protesters.

Hudbay continues to have troubles with another property in Uchucarco, Peru, as described in the documentary. There the conflict is over what Hudbay promised, but according to local people, not delivered.

I strongly recommend that you visit John Dougherty's Investigative Media web site and view Flin Flon Flim Flam for why we need to support efforts of groups like Save the Scenic Santa Ritas (SSSR) to deny Hudbay's attempt to destroy some of our Santa Rita mountains with the Rosemont mine.

One way to support SSSR is via a contribution on Arizona Gives day tomorrow (Tuesday). Here is the link.

h/t Michele Manos and John Dougherty for the NY Times front page article.

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