‘They burned everything’: Guatemalan women press Hudbay on human rights claims in closely watched case

Two indigenous Guatemalan women stood quietly in front of a Toronto courthouse on Tuesday morning, surrounded by a scrum that included a filmmaking crew, lawyers, media and a gaggle of other people.

On a crowded city street during rush hour, the women drew little notice from passersby but their case is being closely followed by the mining sector and beyond.

Both women, Irma Yolanda Choc Cac and Angelica Choc, had travelled from a remote part of eastern Guatemala, to continue pressing legal claims that Hudbay Minerals Inc., one of Canada’s oldest mining companies, bears liability for rape, violence and other human rights abuses that took place more than a decade ago when their village was razed to make way for the Fenix nickel mine.

Their lawsuit, originally filed in 2011, ties into a trend of increasing scrutiny of Canadian mining and exploration companies’ overseas activity. In its wake, other plaintiffs sued at least two other mining companies under the same novel legal theory, which accuses the mining companies of negligence.

“I’m assuming any chance of resolving anything between these parties has long since left the building,” the presiding case management master, Michael McGraw, who functions like a judge, said near the start of the hearing on Tuesday.

In a courtroom packed with journalists and supporters of the women, the lawyers had planned to argue about whether the plaintiffs could amend their complaint against Hudbay to include new details about the alleged human rights abuses. But that never happened and instead, the parties pushed the hearing back until November while they discuss a compromise.

The suit claims security personnel for Skye Resources — which Hudbay bought in 2008 for US$451 million to acquire the Fenix mine project — worked with Guatemalan military and police to clear the land and raze the Mayan Q’echi community of Lote Ocho for the mining project.

Several of the plaintiffs in the case, including one present Monday, in documents filed in the case, describe the trauma — being tied, beaten and gang-raped in front of their children — in excruciating detail while under examination by Hudbay’s lawyers at Fasken, Tracy Pratt and Robert Harrison.

“It was these men just like this that raped me when I was three months’ pregnant,” one of the plaintiffs said, adding, “And it’s men just like this that are the ones that burned my house, and they burned my clothing and they burned everything I had in my house.”

The other plaintiff claims the head of mining security killed her husband for protesting against the mining company.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers say they have gained new details from documents and emails that Hudbay produced during the litigation to substantiate the alleged human rights abuses. Already, they have filed documents in court that contain new details related to payments Skye made to military and police, and to the arrangements between Skye’s security force and local police and military.

At the hearing, lawyers for Hudbay said they would consider agreeing to allow the plaintiffs amended complaint, although they may file a new motion challenging whether Ontario is the proper jurisdiction to hear the claims. They had filed a motion to move the case to Guatemala earlier in the case, but Hudbay withdraw it before a ruling was ever handed down.

Meanwhile, in a separate case using the same legal theory filed against Tahoe Resources, a B.C. judge ruled that the negligence case could be heard in Canada. Earlier this year, Pan American Resources Inc., which purchased Tahoe, publicly apologized to the plaintiffs and reached a confidential settlement.

There remains one other suit that uses the same theory, against Nevsun Resources Inc., which was purchased by a Chinese company in 2018, accusing it of using forced labour and of committing other human rights abuses on a mining project in Eritrea.

A representative for Hudbay, who was present in the courtroom, referred questions to the company’s lawyers, who declined to comment.

Hudbay sold its interest in the Fenix mine for US$170 million in 2011, shortly after the lawsuit was filed. It retained liability, however, and continues to fight the case.

Email: gfriedman@nationalpost.com |

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NEXT HEARING IN TORONTO: November 8, 2019.

More information / To support Mayan Q’eqchi’ victims-plaintiffs:
Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org; www.rightsaction.org

Chile. Recordando al gran Presidente Salvador Allende

Gabriel Gaspar

Resumen Latinoamericano / 11 de septiembre de 2019

La Historia la escriben los hombres, pero en las condiciones en que les toca vivir. Ahí empezamos a ver las diferencias. Hoy deseo realizar un humilde homenaje a un chileno que dedicó su vida a la medicina, al servicio público y a la política. Un profesional que vivió en una sencilla casa pareada de Providencia, donde hoy vive su hija. Fue senador, fue ministro de Pedro Aguirre Cerda, eran los años en que gobernar era educar. No hizo fortuna, imposible que tuviera algún conflicto de interés, eran los tiempos en que los mandatarios vivían en sencillas viviendas. Uno de sus antecesores vivió en un departamento en la Plaza de Armas desde donde caminaba todas las mañanas para ir a La Moneda, otro, en una casa ñuñoina donde apenas cabía su numerosa camada. Ninguno tuvo millones de dólares, menos en paraísos fiscales.

Militó en el Partido de Socialista de entonces, no tuvo “lote” y jamás pidió un blindaje o una omisión, o que le guardaran el cupo, confiaba en el contacto con el pueblo. Era elegante, saludaba a las multitudes con un pañuelo blanco que agitaba con destreza. Construyó amistades profundas, que lo acompañaron hasta el final: el “Perro” Olivares, Víctor Pey, el “Negro” Jorquera, Danilo, por nombrar algunos. También lo acompañaron anónimos colaboradores en aquellos momentos grises y amargos, juramentados a defenderlo y así lo hicieron.

Fue un valiente, vivió muchas situaciones difíciles en su vida, pero cuando la Historia lo enfrentó a su momento decisivo sacó su mejor casta. Le ofrecieron una salida de escape que rechazó con dignidad. Dice la estrategia que nunca se da un combate para perderlo, pero él estaba escribiendo Historia y ahí las victorias se ganan con coraje, aunque cueste la inmolación. Durante largas horas, con un puñado de leales, un par de pelotones de fusileros, resistió el bombardeo de escuadrones de jets, el asedio de un regimiento de tanques, el fuego de artillería pesada y el asalto de un regimiento de infantería, La Moneda en llamas fue el mudo testimonio de la destrucción de la democracia chilena. Como buen chileno, combatió hasta morir, no se rindió.

Con sus últimas palabras orientó a su gente y predijo el futuro. En todo el planeta hoy se yerguen estatuas en su homenaje, plazas y avenidas llevan su nombre, así como innumerables hospitales y escuelas. En la Universidad de Guadalajara se trasmite de generación en generación, su histórico discurso a los estudiantes, en Naciones Unidas resuenan sus palabras, “vengo de un pequeño país”. Pequeño pero digno.

Hizo respetar la investidura de la Presidencia de la República hasta su propio sacrificio. Por todo ello, y mucho más, hoy quiero rendir un modesto homenaje a ese hombre, que nació en Valparaíso, que estudió medicina, que recorrió Chile organizando y defendiendo a su pueblo, y que llevado por éste, entró un día en La Moneda, para seguir rumbo hacia la Historia escribiendo una de las páginas más nobles de la consecuencia y del coraje republicano.

Mis respetos Señor Presidente

Venezuela and ALBA Weekly 9.6.2019 #268: Our Tasks and Perspectives to Defend Venezuela

AGJ – September 6, 2019

What Are Our Tasks and Perspectives to Defend Venezuela?  Many respected progressive and leftist intellectuals and analysts in North America and Europe are paying perhaps too much attention, or are carried away by, the internal dynamics of the Bolivarian revolution, without realizing that our main task is not to speculate about the revolutionary process in Venezuela. We must understand what Venezuela needs right now and consequently what our main and immediate tasks are – especially as people living in the US or Canada, in the belly of beast. The best way to contribute to the struggle of Venezuelan people against the reactionary pro-imperialist right-wing opposition inside Venezuela and against the constant attack, sanctions, and interventions of imperialism, is to build a strong antiwar, anti-imperialist movement that also focuses on building a Venezuela solidarity movement in defense of self-determination for the Venezuelan people.

Sanctions: War by other Means (video)

 

Colombia: CIA Platform for Aggression against Venezuela  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the creation of the Venezuela Affairs Unit (VAU), which will be located in the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. This moves leaves no doubt that Colombia is being designated as the main platform for a US made coup d’état against the constitutional and legitimate government of Nicolas Maduro and the servile role that Colombian President Ivan Duque is expected to play.

Venezuela exposes latest Terrorist plan from Colombia The plan has been going on with the complicity of Colombian President Ivan Duque. According to Minister Rodriguez, the plan included an explosion on Caracas’ Justice Palace that were meant to be carried by groups that he called “terrorists” trained in Colombian territory and commanded by Venezuelan opposition politician Julio Borges.

Bloomberg News: Guaido-supporting countries shifting back to de facto recognition of President Maduro

1st International Meeting of Workers in Solidarity with  Venezuela; President Maduro’s speech to international trade unionists

Real News Network: Venezuela’s Press Is More Free Than You’d Think  Joe Emersberger points out that Opposition figures regularly speak their mind on talk shows and news programs in Venezuela, contradicting the view that freedom of the press is highly restricted.

Honduras. Defending the human right to water – PBI

PBI-Honduras accompanies C-Libre at appeal for Guapinol water defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

On September 5, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted, “This morning we accompanied the Committee for Free Expression [a coalition of journalists and civil society representatives] to the Constitutional Chamber, where they signed a Habeas Corpus appeal in favour of the eight defenders of the Guapinol territory who have been in preventive detention since last Sunday.”

PBI-Honduras adds, “This resource is intended to review whether the requirements to adopt that resolution were met.”

ACI-Participa further explains, “The appeal is that this Chamber of the CSJ [la Corte Suprema de Justicia] review the actions of the Judge and if the necessary requirements were met for the magistrate to take that resolution. The measure is clearly illegal, so within the next 24 hours a ruling from the Constitutional Chamber is expected.”

On September 2, Prensa Latina reported, “The director of the Committee for Free Expression, Edy Tábora, who is also part of the environmental defense lawyers, denounced that the trial is plagued by irregularities.”

That article adds, “Initially the environmentalists had been charged for the crimes of illicit association and illegal carrying of weapons. …[They] are now in preventive detention for the crime of aggravated fire, dictated by a judge of national jurisdiction.”

Background

In August 2018, area residents set up a ‘Guapinol Camp in Defence of Water and Life’ in opposition to the Inversiones Los Pinares mine. Many oppose this mine inside the Carlos Escaleras National Park because it is causing damage to the Guapinol River, the source of drinking water for 14 nearby communities and about 42,000 people.

In October 2018, 1,500 Honduran military and police officers evicted the camp.

Twelve of the water defenders who had been at that camp went on trial in late February of this year. PBI-Honduras, along with CEHPRODEC [the Honduran Centre for the Promotion of Community Development] and C-Libre, accompanied that trial.

On August 26, PBI-Honduras was also present for an initial hearing of seven of the additional water defenders noted above. Those water defenders were referred to judicial detention at the Tamara Penitentiary where they are still being jailed.

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee has stated, “This confinement is just one of numerous due process failures plaguing this case, including the fact that one of the defenders is now being tried inside a military base. The water defenders must be released and all the charges dropped – protecting the human right to water is never a crime.”

PBI-Honduras has accompanied C-Libre since January 2018.

Further reading: Guapinol water defender Roberto Antonio Argueta killed; PBI-Honduras at court hearing for Guapinol water defenders and Peace Brigades accompanies at-risk lawyers and criminalized human rights defenders.

#GuapinolResiste #DefenderLaTierraNoEsDelito #NoMasCriminalización

2019, II International Poetry Festival “La Patria Grande” FIPGRA

The Right to Peace, Diversity – Political Prisoners – Popular Leaders

We invite you now to train and organize your collective and writers in each of the places that make up the Patria Grande and thus contribute to the planting of this important event collectively. The Festival will take place on September 18 to 22, 2019 at the Latin American Cultural Center located at 1756 Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto.

Hugs and fraternal solidarity,

Keith Ellis Zilpha Ellis Carlos Angulo Rivas Maria Elena Mesa

Collective FIPGRA Fipgra12@yahoo.com