Canada's Major Role in the Murder of Environmentalists under Liberal and Conservative Governments

18 posts / 0 new
Last post
jerrym
Canada's Major Role in the Murder of Environmentalists under Liberal and Conservative Governments

Berta Cáceres Goldman Environmental Prize winner in 2015

Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres herself had warned  that Canadian hydroelectric giant Blue Energy had issued death threats to her shortly before her murder in 2016 because of her activism in resisting unwanted development projects on Indigenous territory in Honduras. Even though she had won the prestigous Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, both for her work and in an attempt to provide her some protection through making her issues known abroad, the Trudeau government did nothing to help her or to address the issues she raised both before and after her death. In 2016 Cáceres "was assassinated in her home by armed intruders, after years of threats against her life. ... Twelve environmental activists were killed in Honduras in 2014, according to research by Global Witness, making it the most dangerous country in the world, relative to its size, for activists protecting forests and rivers. Her murder was followed by those of two more activists within the same month." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berta_Cáceres)

In August 2019, the Trudeau government put out a ombudsman guideline for Canadian firms operating abroad that is so useless it caused the environmental group Mining Watch and 13 other civil society organizations to resign in protest.

Murdered Honduran Indigenous activist Berta Caceres warned on multiple occasions that she had received death threats and other harassment from state and corporate agents, including Canadian hydroelectric giant Blue Energy, as a result of her activism resisting unwanted development projects on Indigenous territory. Caceres made statements last April claiming that “men close to Blue Energy,” a transnational Canadian company looking to build a dam in the Rio Blanco area in western Honduras, or people “close to politicians” and “death squads promoted from government policies” were behind the death threats leveled against her. “I have received direct death threats, threats of kidnapping, or disappearance, of lynching, of pummeling the vehicle I use, threats of kidnapping my daughter, persecution, surveillance, sexual harassment, and also campaigns in the national media of powerful sectors,” Caceres told EFE last year.

Caceres, co-founder of the Indigenous organization COPINH and prominent resistance activist, was a key leader of resistance movements in Rio Blanco against corporate development projects being launched without local consent.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Berta-Caceres-Received-Death-Threats...

jerrym

 

As the election writ was about to be dropped the Trudeau Liberal government put out a paper tiger "mandate of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) – once again failing to address the main concerns raised by MiningWatch Canada and many other civil society members." However, Mining Watch and 13 other "civil society organizations resigned from a federal advisory committee after the federal government took away powers to investigate from the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE)," because they saw its as toothless and doing nothing to solve the problem. I guess when you lobby the Trudeau Liberals 530 times in 15 months, like the mining industry, you get rules that suit you perfectly. 

report released today by the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project shows that the two mining industry associations, the Mining Association of Canada and the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, lobbied the federal government 530 times between January 2018 and April 2019. (https://miningwatch.ca/news/2019/7/24/mining-industry-lobbied-government...)

This is just a continuation of non-action by Canadian governments over decades on human rights for environmentalists harmed by Canadian corporations. 

MiningWatch, other members of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, and Professor Surya Deva of the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights  have repeatedly pointed out that the Ombuds’ mandate fails to provide the most critical characteristics of an ombudsperson tasked with investigating allegations of human rights abuses by Canadian corporations operating overseas: independence and the powers to compel witnesses and documents. ...

“We need answers,” says MiningWatch spokesperson Catherine Coumans. She asks, “Why has the government failed to release the legal study it commissioned? Why has the government revised the ombudsperson’s Order-in-Council in the dying days of its mandate, but again failed to give her the necessary powers to compel evidence?”

The ongoing failure by Minister Carr to answer these questions leads to only one conclusion; once again, in the face of a massive mining industry lobby, the government has failed to show the political will to hold Canadian companies to account for serious human rights abuses.

On August 19, MiningWatch Canada resigned from its position as an alternate on the government’s Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Body on Responsible Business Conduct Abroad (MSAB). “We have lost confidence that this government is at all serious about human rights when it comes to the activities of Canadian companies operating overseas,” says Coumans, adding, “If it will not empower the ombudsperson to do her job effectively, then what is the point in talking about other possible business and human rights initiatives?”

https://miningwatch.ca/news/2019/9/12/trudeau-government-drops-writ-and-..

jerrym

The Trudeau Liberal government has continued previous Canadian government's failing to curb in any way corporate Canada's abuse of the environment and murder of environmentalists in Third World countries. This is tragic, especially when it comes to Canada's mining companies that dominate much of the industry globally, carrying out murder and sexual abuse, especially with regard to environmentalists, with impunity. These firms are also allowed to destroy forests that store megatons of carbon dioxide in their pursuit of profits. 

Drone footage shows denuded forest landscapes around the Kirazli mine site in northwestern Turkey, whose Canadian owner, Alamos Gold, is facing local opposition over the project's environmental impact.COURTESY OF CANAKKALE MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

 

​Since 75 per cent of the world’s mining and exploration companies are based in Canada and 40 per cent of global mining capital is raised on the Toronto Stock Exchange, it’s easy to argue that Canada is the world leader in this industry. Mining interests influence international aid, dictate the activities of our foreign diplomats and prescribe the conditions of our multilateral investment and “free  trade” agreements.

When it comes to abuse by mining companies, Canada also reigns supreme. Killings and sexual abuse by security forces and unchecked environmental devastation are regularly reported occurrences at Canadian mining sites around the world. Barrick Gold, the company founded by Peter Munk, does not escape this seeming industry norm. 

The company has acknowledged a massacre at one of its mines and compensated 120 women and girls who were gang raped at another of its sites with just over $10,000 each in exchange for signing an agreement not to sue. 

Beyond facing charges of human rights abuses, Barrick and Munk’s associated social enterprises have been accused on numerous occasions of thwarting efforts to correct the Canadian regulatory framework that allows these violations to continue. As such, it will be interesting to see how much Canadian mining impunity will feature in the foreign-policy debate hosted by none other than the Munk Debates, at Roy Thomson Hall on Monday (September 28).

According to a 2005 report from the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “Canada does not yet have laws to ensure that the activities of Canadian mining companies in developing countries conform to human rights standards, including the rights of workers and of indigenous peoples.” 

This landmark report, the result of years of advocacy on human rights abuses at Canadian mine sites, spurred a multi-year process known as the Canadian Roundtables on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the Canadian Extractive Industry. ...

Despite the painstaking effort, the report’s proposals were ignored by the Harper government. ...

The state of mining injustice today is horrifying, and it’s essential that these issues be aired to curtail the current level of impunity enjoyed by mining companies abroad.

https://nowtoronto.com/news/mining-injustice/

jerrym

Why has this been allowed to continue? In part, because Canadian laws have been extremely weak in dealing with this, and the natural resource sector feels comfortable operating from Canada where the Trudeau government continues to do nothing to meaningfully to address the issue despite lobbying for social justice and environmental groups. There are lax environmental laws within Canada as well as the Mount Polley tailings ponds breach is just one example.

Image result for Canadian mining and environmental disaster pictures

The breach of a tailings pond at the Mount Polley copper and gold mine in B.C. has released five million cubic metres of mining wastewater into local waterways. (Cariboo Regional District)

All over the world, companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and run out of lawyer’s offices on Bay Street or skyscrapers in downtown Vancouver (whose real financiers may live in Australia or Nevada) are handling the mining game at home, throughout parts of Asia, South America and surprisingly, even with all the talk of China’s investment in Africa, it turns out that it’s Canada, not China, who is quietly dominating and exploiting African mining. All told, almost 1,300 mining companies based out of Canada are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in over 100 countries around the world.

So the question is, why? What makes Canada such an attractive option for the ‘extractive sector’? Canadians don’t own all of these mining companies—but these organizations do plop their headquarters down here—what is it about this country that makes it such an industry haven?

I asked Jamie Kneen, research coordinator with Ottawa based MiningWatch Canada, a non-profit organization that describes itself as “a direct response to industry and government failures to protect the public and the environment from destructive mining practices and to deliver on their sustainability rhetoric.” Just why it is that Canada is the go-to place for mining companies to set up shop?

“There’s two sides to it,” he said. “One is that there is a concentration of expertise in mining finance and mining law, it does have a historical basis” He is of course referring to the various Canadian gold rushes, the nickel deposits in Sudbury, coal in Cape Breton, etc. “The other side is that Canada provides very favourable conditions. The listing requirements for the TSX are pretty lax, the disclosure requirements are pretty lax, you don’t have to have Canadian directories or Canadian shareholders to be a Canadian company... and the Canadian government doesn’t ask too many questions about whether you’re paying your taxes in other jurisdictions (i.e. foreign countries where the mines are operating).”

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/75-of-the-worlds-mining-companies-are...

jerrym

Here are more examples of Canada's mining industry's involvement in these murders and lax to non-existent environmental laws that have repeatedly led to death.  

Barrick Gold Corporation is a name that comes up on a number of issues. Based out of the TD Canada Trust Tower at 161 Bay Street in Toronto, their gold mine in Papua New Guinea has been the site of fatal shootings as well as of hundreds of rapes, gang rapes,and beatings of indigenous women by the mine’s security forces. Barrick has acknowledged the problem by offering victims some compensation—on the agreement they sign away their rights to ever legally sue. I wasn’t able to find any evidence of Canadian government investigation or intervention in the matter.

In the Congo in 2005, Anvil Mining Ltd, based out of Quebec, allegedly provided logistical support and transportation to the Congolese militaryas it made its way to the port city of Kilwa where it massacred hundreds of people. A Canadian organization representing survivors of the massacre, the Canadian Association Against Impunity—whose mandate is to hold mining companies in Africa accountable for their actions—had their class-action suit thrown out by the Supereme Court of Canada, saying the complaint should be heard in the Congo (whose military the mine supported). This, again, reinforces my understanding that our mining companies can act with impunity overseas, without the threat of any legal repercussions in Canada.

Calgary based TVI Pacific has employed its own paramilitary force in a remote region of the Philippines to intimidate and remove the indigenous population from their ancestral lands so they can mine for gold. In one documented incident, members of TVI’s security force—all of which are employees of Canadian companies—entered the house of a local man, beat him with a hammer, smashed a small-scale piece of mining equipment that he owned – likely his only livelihood – then, just for good measure, slapped his pregnant wife, and shot at the feet of their teenage daughter. ...

The recklessness of Vancouver-based China Gold International left 83 Tibetan miners after a landslide dead in March—a natural disaster that many believe was caused by the environmental disruption that the mining industry has caused in the area. Apparently more than 5,000 Chinese troops were sent in to “serve as rescue efforts” but a Tibetan monk from the area, who lives in Canada, believes they were actually there to curb protests by the locals.

A protest in Vancouver over our mining operations in Tibet

In Central and South America, Canada’s reputation is being dragged through the dirt to the point where in some countries, it’s apparently better for travellers to say they’re American than Canadian, and it’s not hard to see why. Vancouver-based Pacific Rim is suing the government of El Salvador, a country with a GDP of $23 Billion (Canada’s is $1.7 trillion) for $315 million dollars because they didn’t let them follow through with a mine that threatened to pollute the Lempa River—a watershed that accounts for 60% of the country’s clean water.

As if that’s not enough, a region of Guatemala was militarized last month—and the right to protest or form meetings has been suspended by the president—following clashes between local protesters who are concerned for their drinking water and employees of Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources inc.

https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/75-of-the-worlds-mining-companies-are...

jerrym

Canadian mining companies have played a major role in the growing violence against environmentalists. The article found at the url below describes the murder of 37 environmentali activists and their connections to Canadian mining companies. 

1Vigil1.jpg          Blanket: "Canadian Mining Kills"

 

Four days after the assassination of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres captured worldwide headlines, a vigil to remind of the blood on Canada’s hands for all those who have died protesting Canadian mining projects abroad interrupted the mining industry’s annual confab in Toronto on Sunday, March 6.

The vigil held by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network at the convention of the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) was presided over by Anglican priest Maggie Helwig. “We are here to name the dead,” she said.

The names of some two dozen victims of such violence were read out at the PDAC vigil. The protesters were then escorted out by police.

Canadian mining companies are among the worst human rights offenders on the planet. The most recent evidence of that is a 2014 report submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. A 2009 report commissioned by PDAC but never made public also detailed targeted assassinations and persecution of activists and union leaders opposing Canadian projects abroad. 

It’s impossible to know exactly who killed each of these people. The vast majority of the cases have not been solved or in many cases even investigated. But they all have something in common: all were assassinated and all resisted Canadian mining projects. 

https://nowtoronto.com/news/canadian-mining-is-murder/

 

jerrym

The murder of 1,780 environmentalists identified in Global Witness's 2002 to 2018 reports is only a small fraction of those murdered globally. Not all of these murders involve Canadian firms nor the mining industry. Many of those attempting to protect the land, water and atmosphere live in remote regions where there is little or no law and their deaths are not even noted officially. Here is the url of the 2017 Global Witness report: (https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/at-wh...)

Image result for Canadian mining and environmental disaster pictures

According to the Brazilian environmental watchdog Comissao Pastoral da Terra (CPT), the death toll in Brazil alone is even worse than that reported by Global Witness. 

More than 1,500 Brazilians have been killed trying to protect the Amazon rain forest over the past 25 years, and some 2,000 more have received death threats. ...

For decades, Brazil has struggled with how to manage the staggering natural resources of the Amazon. The region, which is nearly the size of the contiguous United States, shelters 10 percent of the Earth's known species. The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental group, estimates that an average four-square-mile plot in the Amazon contains 750 species of trees, 400 species of birds, and 150 species of butterflies. The rich soil means there's also huge financial potential for farming and livestock. In the 1970s, the country's dictatorship inaugurated a policy known as integrar para não entregar (­"Occupy it, or risk losing it"), and a frenetic landgrab ensued. The new land barons seized vast tracts of forest, which they promptly clear-cut. The timber was sold to foreign countries or burned to make charcoal, and the land was planted with soybeans or populated with cattle.

This, in part, has led to Brazil's emergence as a global economic power. It is already the world's largest exporter of beef and the second-largest supplier of soybeans. ...

In July 2011, public outcry over the violence forced the Brazilian government to announce that it would provide protection to approximately 130 threatened activists, and at the end of September, four months after Zé and Maria's deaths, the country's Council of Justice unveiled plans to create a special task force to investigate the killing of activists. According to federal prosecutor Pontes, however, only five of the 40 threatened activists in Pará have received any government protection. A spokeswoman for the Council of Justice said that her office has actually reduced the number of unsolved murders from nearly 700 to 74. ("The court figured that a dispute over land was not the main reason behind many of the murders," she said.)

Brent Rushforth, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who in 2005 helped Brazil prosecute the killers of a 73-year-old American nun and rain forest activist named Dorothy Stang, blames flaws in the country's legal system for the inefficacy of these programs. "Brazilian criminal law is a stew that's made up of common law, Napoleonic code, and Brazilian salsa," Rushforth says. "The Amazon is so vast and completely unfettered to any true rule of law." Rushforth says that to find the men who killed Stang, the Brazilian government had to send its army into the rain forest – and it did so only in response to international pressure.

Many believe that the Brazilian legislature operates under the undue influence of the ranchers, who have the money to win favor. ...

 The Brazilian congress voted to amend the country's forest code, granting amnesty to ranchers who have illegally cleared land while also reducing the percentage of holdings that they're required to preserve. As an ecologist with Greenpeace put it, "Brazil woke up to the news of the murders of two leading environmental activists, and it's going to bed with the murder of the forest code."

Meanwhile, the killings and death threats continue.

http://www.mensjournal.com/magazine/murder-in-the-amazon-brazils-endange...

 

jerrym

In 2018, Climate Change News noted that the most dangerous place for activists and indigenous communities was the Philippines, which saw 30 murders, according to the latest Global Witness report. (Photo: Cassi Gurell/Flickr) (https://www.climatechangenews.com/2019/07/30/164-land-defenders-murdered...)

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is known as a dictatorial thug for good reason, having said that he has personally thrown a corrupt poltician out of a helicopter, promising to kill 100,000 criminals in his first six months in office (currently "An average 1,015 people have been reportedly killed each month by police or vigilantes since Duterte took office on June 30.") (https://www.yahoo.com/news/philippine-president-rodrigo-dutertes-most-ou...)

Ironically, in view of his own atrocious human rights abuse record, one of the reasons for his popularity is his threat to kick the ten Canadian mining companies out of the country because of their record of cooperating in murder and sexual abuse. Of course his record never matched his promise. 

He has also said foreign mining companies, including Canadian firms, need to "shape up" and would prefer Filipino ownership. This may well be an attempt to reward his own cronies, but with the murderous record of Canadian and other foreign mining firms they have no local support and are worried, despite saying otherwise.

I have no faith that a Duterte-led Filipino set of cronies would be much better, but it just might send a message to foreign firms that being so ruthless could be costly to their own interests.

New Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte may make headlines because of his outspoken (and often controversial) ways, but his approach to mining will have a substantial impact on foreign firms — including several Canadian companies.

Duterte, who is known for his tough stance on crime and disregard for due process, said after winning the country’s presidential election in May that mining companies in the Philippines need to “shape up”. He went on to say he prefers mining assets to be owned by locals, rather than foreign companies.

That was followed by the naming of committed environmentalist Regina Lopez to head the country’s natural resources department, which set off uncertainty for foreign firms operating in the Philippines. One industry official told Reuters the sector is “shell shocked” by Lopez’s appointment.

For their parts, the 10 listed Canadian mining companies operating in the Philippines said they are not concerned, according to the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), a leading industry group.

“PDAC supports responsible mineral exploration and mining everywhere in the world, including the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia,” said PDAC executive director Andrew Cheatle in a statement. “Each (of the 10 Canadian firms) is expected to observe the highest environmental and social responsibility standards. … We fully support responsible exploration and improved regulatory processes in the Philippines.”

Other observers have been less optimistic. Dave Forest, managing geologist for the Pierce Points resource-industry newsletter, called Lopez’s views on open-pit mining “horrific” evidence that the Filipino minister has taken one of the strongest anti-mining stances ever by a government official. It could put the industry at risk, he said in an analysis.

“Strong anti-mining sentiment seems to be permeating all levels of authority in the country,” Forest wrote, adding that foreign mining operations may soon face full-scale reviews if violations are discovered. “Here’s to knowing when to fold ’em.”

https://vancouversun.com/business/local-business/asia-pacific-duterte-re...

jerrym

Another example of how the Canadian government and courts fail to do anything to stop the murder of environmentalists occurred in Mexico. 

Abarca, Chiapas, August 19 (Otros Mundos).jpeg

On August 19, the Abarca family held a press conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the murder of Mariano Abarca over his opposition to Canadian mining operations in Mexico - Courtesy of Otros Mundos


On August 19, members of the Abarca family, along with a number of Mexican organizations, held a press conference in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico, to mark the 10th anniversary of the murder of Mariano Abarca.

The former community leader was gunned down in broad daylight outside his home in November 2009. 

The Federal Court of Canada recently decided not to order the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner to investigate alleged “actions and omissions” on the part of officials at the Canadian embassy in Mexico City in the months leading up to Abarca's death. 

Abarca had gone to the embassy to report threats and allegations of harassment against community members in Chiapas opposed to a barite mine in Chicomuselo operated by Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration. ...

In a 26-page decision published on July 18, Federal Court Justice Keith Boswell conceded that “perhaps Mariano Abarca would not have been murdered” if the embassy had “acted in a certain way.” But Boswell determined that the integrity commissioner’s decision not to investigate the actions of embassy officials was acceptable. Moreover, he ruled that it was “reasonable” to conclude that Canadian embassy officials in Mexico did not violate any code of conduct. Officials had travelled to Chiapas to discuss issues with locals and mining officials. 

But the judge appears to have based this conclusion on the presumption that Canadian government policies related to corporate social responsibility, corruption, and human rights are not binding on embassy officials.

https://miningwatch.ca/news/2019/9/3/mining-murder-and-canadian-impunity...

    jerrym

    The links between the Trudeau government and SNC Lavalin include its involvement in eniviromental disasters that resulted in death and human rights abuses. Of course this continues the legacy of inaction of previous Liberal and Conservative governments on this issue.

    PDAC 2019.jpg

    Mining Injustice Solidarity Network

    Activists remind participants at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto last week of mining disasters abroad.

    In January, a tailings dam broke at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine in Brazil, releasing massive amounts of toxic sludge and killing several hundred people. It was the Brazilian company’s second dam disaster in three years, yet there was only mild acknowledgement at a session Vale co-sponsored before it was on to other business.

    Additionally, Canadian-based PDAC sponsors Hudbay Minerals and Pan American Silver are currently the subjects of massive lawsuits alleging human rights abuses at their operations abroad. Toronto-based Barrick Gold, another PDAC sponsor, remains a perennial target of human rights allegations following highly-publicized incidents at mining operations in Tanzania and Papua New Guinea.

    Conducting operations in developing countries can be complicated when corruption and regime change can be part of the reality of doing business. Mining companies also face tremendous financial and logistical hurdles with exploration.

    But it’s also true that Canada has overlooked opportunities to establish a legally binding code to govern the behaviour of Canadian companies overseas. Liberal MP John McKay introduced Bill C-300 in 2010, which would have allowed Export Development Canada and Canadian trade commissions and embassies to withdraw support from companies convicted in court of violations.

    But following fierce lobbying, including at PDAC, the bill was voted down, despite the Liberals and NDP holding the balance of power in the House at the time over a Stephen Harper minority government that was all too willing to cut their corporate friends slack.

    The Harper government also opposed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which provides for prior and informed consent on activities on their lands. The declaration was adopted under Trudeau in 2016. Still, what constitutes free, prior and informed consent varies widely, with consent in Canada instead achieved by mining companies and Indigenous leaders signing so-called impact-benefit agreements. ...

    https://nowtoronto.com/news/snc-lavalin-mining-industry/

    As questions whether the Justin Trudeau government tried to shield Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin from bribery charges over the company’s past dealings in Libya dominated headlines last week, the mining industry’s biggest players gathered at the annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) conference in Toronto.

    Issues of ethics and law were all over the agenda as more than 30,000 consultants, investors and government officials from around the world descended on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Just like SNC-Lavalin, which has a hand in most of Canada’s biggest public infrastructure projects and a multitude of other activities abroad, Canadian mining – nearly 60 per cent of which raises funds through the Toronto Stock Exchange – is trying to clean up its act.

    Corporate social responsibility has been a focus at successive PDAC conventions. ...

    Investors were reminded of that fact when environmental activists managed to get by security and unfurl a banner overlooking the trade floor pointing out mining abuses in Brazil. Within minutes, the activists were escorted outside.

    https://nowtoronto.com/news/snc-lavalin-mining-industry/

    jerrym

    Canada plays a major role in Mexican mining and also has a terrible record there. 

     

    A MINING FACILITY IN CHIAPAS, MEXICO OWNED BY CALGARY-BASED COMPANY, BLACKFIRE EXPLORATION, LTD. IMAGE VIA WIKIMEDIA

    An employee of a Canadian-owned gold mine in Cocula, Mexico is among two people still missing days after local police freed ten others said to be victims of a kidnapping. The group was travelling in an SUV about 30 minutes outside of Coculaon Friday when kidnappers dressed as police or military personnel abducted them. 

    Mexico's interior ministry said Sunday that ten of the victims were "rescued" by local Mexican forces, with one being treated for a gunshot wound. Three of the victims were hired at Media Luna on contract.

    It all happened in the troubled Mexican state of Guerrero, where 43 student-teachers were allegedly murdered and burned to ashes in September by Mexican narco-traffickers colluding with state forces. ...

    The recent kidnapping is just the latest in a dizzying web of corruption, collusion, and human rights abuses that constantly revolve around Canadian-owned mines in Latin America. 

    And while Cocula is a case unique to Mexico's troubled political landscape, it serves as a reminder for Canadians to more closely examine perhaps the nation's best-kept secret: our mining companies are under accusation of constant human rights breaches.

    Canadian mining activity in Latin America has skyrocketed over the past decade. Acting on 1994's North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canada signed agreements with several Latin American countries to facilitate easy access for resource extraction. Those countries include Peru (2009), Colombia (2011), Panama (2013), and Honduras (2014). As such, five of the top ten locations for Canada's international mining assets in 2014 were Latin American countries. According to Natural Resources Canada, the value of Canadian mining assets abroad reached $148.7 billion in 2012, accounting for 66 percent of all Canadian mining assets. Canadian activities in Mexico are especially pronounced. With nearly 200 companies in operation, Mexico is the top destination for Canadian mining investment outside of Canada. In Guerrero, terror, violence, and intimidation are a daily occurrence and the gold is said to be cheap and easy to mine. Indeed, Canadian companies such as Goldcorp, Newstrike Capital, Alamos Gold, and Torex Gold Resources all have a strong presence there. 

    Several experts have pointed to the recent incident in Cocula as part of a battle between armed narco-trafficking groups struggling for power. MiningWatch Canada says it's an "all-out war" between these crime groups in nearly every municipality in Guerrero. 

    In Mexico, like in other Latin American countries (including Canadian trade partners Colombia and Peru), foreign mining companies indirectly deal with local narco or paramilitary groups for access.  ...

    Countless cases of violence in Mexico are connected to the country's strangling presence of narco-traffickers, but the end result often mirrors that of mineral-rich countries like Colombia, Peru, Honduras, and Guatemala, among others. Locals and activists standing in the way of foreign investment are often met with violence from paramilitary groups. ...

    The same trends surface in resource-rich areas across Latin America. In Colombia, Paley has written about the "militarization of the extractive industry," where US-trained energy battalions protected pipelines, roads, and other infrastructure. She says the US-funded "War on Drugs" is used as a pretext to improve conditions for foreign investment. ...

    As a result of all of Canada's free-trade agreements with Latin American nations, Kopecky said companies are entering territories without firm regulatory checks. Social corporate responsibility amounts to little more than propaganda for many of these companies. ​

    https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/7b7ned/canadian-mining-companies-are-...

    jerrym

    Canadian corporations are dominant players throughout Latin America.

    Canadian mining doing serious environmental harm, the IACHR is told

    Operations in nine Latin American countries continue with explicit Canadian state support, says report

     The Entre Mares mine in Honduras, one of 22 large-scale mining projects in Latin America featured in a report on Canadian companies presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Photograph: CEHPRODEC

    The growing role of Canadian mining companies across Latin America has been put under the spotlight at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington following the presentation of a damning report. 

    Mining operations by Canadian firms across nine Latin American countries are causing "serious environmental impacts" by destroying glaciers, contaminating water and rivers, and cutting down forest, according to the report, as well as forcibly displacing people, dividing and impoverishing communities, making false promises about economic benefits, endangering people’s health, and fraudulently acquiring property. Some who protest such projects have been killed or seriously wounded, it states, and others persecuted, threatened or accused of being terrorists. 

    "Criminal charges such as "sabotage", "terrorism", "rebellion", "conspiracy" and "incitement to commit crime" have been made against social leaders and human rights defenders who oppose and resist the development of industry," it states. 

    The report, titled The Impact of Canadian Mining in Latin America and Canada’s responsibility, states that Canadian firms are exploiting weak legal systems in Latin American countries and Canada itself, as well as failing to respect indigenous peoples’ rights, international human rights and social responsibility principles, and supposedly "protected" areas. ...

    The organizations [co-authoring the report] have been emphatic that the Canadian authorities are aware of the difficulties regarding each one of the [22] case-studies [cited in the report] and that, despite that, Canada continues to provide political, legal and financial support to companies which commit or tolerate human rights abuses. Canada’s government has advised various governments in countries where its companies operate about changing the law, citizen participation, and areas to be mined. . . Canadian ambassadors have played a commercial relations management role between the companies, the respective state, and Canada itself.

    Between 50% and 70% of all mining in Latin America is now done by Canadian firms, the report states, and as of 2012 70% of shares issued by the mining industry worldwide went through the Toronto Stock Exchange.​

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/andes-to-the-amazon/2014/may/14/...

    jerrym

    Canadian corporations, operating internationally with the support of Liberal and Conservative governments have been involved in many human rights abuses and environmental disasters as their profits soar. 

     Protesters in the community of Casillas, praying for calm amid rumours the army is on its way to evict their anti-mining roadblock. Photograph: Nina Lakhani

    In Guatemala, one of the world’s largest silver deposits reaps millions for its Canadian owners but for local farmers the price is their land and even their lives. ...

    On a dusty highway, about 50 peasant farmers stand praying in a circle, a makeshift roadblock intended to stop trucks reaching the mine. They have already been violently dispersed by police teargas. Now they fear the army might move in.

    The contrast couldn’t be greater: the mine extracted more than $350m (£270m) worth of silver last year. The protesters, men, women and children turning out for 12-hour vigils, eke out a living by farming coffee, maize and small herds of cattle. 

    This is a perennial frontline in a deadly battle fought by land rights activists against corporate interests in Guatemala, a clash of interests that have made the country one of the most perilous places in the world for environmentalists, according to the NGO Global Witness.

    Since 2010 at least 41 people have been killed – including eight at the Canadian-owned mine, Escobal.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/13/the-canadian-company...

     

    Canada's mining industry is also making itself felt in Brazil as it generates more than $50 billion in profits. 

    Canada’s mining industry plays a significant and influential role internationally, with 30 Canadian mining companies operating in Brazil, for example. Further, Canadian mining firms were given advance notice earlier this year about the Brazilian government’s plans to open up a vast region in the Amazon to mineral extraction. Canada’s mining sector contributed $56 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product in 2015. ...

    LaPointe emphasized that: “The problem is that the industry is not yet acknowledging publicly that there are too many financially risky, marginal mines that are being permitted.” He maintained that marginally profitable companies and mines are a major part of the problem because they cut corners on safety and don’t have the money to guarantee the safety of people and the environment.

    https://news.mongabay.com/2017/12/mine-tailings-dam-failures-major-cause...

    jerrym

    In fact a 2010 report concluded that Canadian firms "are far and away the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world, according to a global study commissioned by an industry association but never made public.", a record that continues today.

    Filipino field technicians work in Lafayette Mining's open pit multi-mineral mine at Rapu Rapu island in the central Philippines, 350 km (217 miles) south of Manila.

    “Canadian companies have been the most significant group involved in unfortunate incidents in the developing world,” the report obtained by the Toronto Star concludes.

    “Canadian companies have played a much more major role than their peers from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States” in these incidents, says the Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict, an independent, non-profit think tank.

    The problems involving Canada’s mining and exploration corporations go far beyond workplace issues. “Canadian companies are more likely to be engaged in community conflict, environmental and unethical behaviour, and are less likely to be involved in incidents related to occupational concerns.”

    The research surfaced as a long, fierce political battle over legislation to tighten federal government scrutiny of Canadian mining operations abroad comes to a head. Bill C-300, a private member’s bill put forward by Toronto Liberal MP John McKay, will be voted on in the Commons next week.

    The proportion of incidents globally that involve Canadian corporations is very large, according to the report. “Of the 171 companies identified in incidents involving mining and exploration companies over the past 10 years, 34 per cent are Canadian,” the Centre found.

    It said the high incidence of involvement of Canadian companies is in line with the Canadian industry’s dominant position in global mining and exploration.

    But “this does not make the individual or corporate violations any more ethically acceptable, especially considering the efforts in recent years taken by industry and government to improve” the practices of the Canadian industry, the Centre said.

    https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2010/10/19/canadian_mining_firms_wor...

    jerrym

    double post

    jerrym

    The Sierra Club of Canada asked the Trudeau Liberal government in August to stop trade talks with the Bolsonaro government of Brazil because it has allowed much greater levels of Amazonian exploitation that is threatening the Amazon through wildfires and mining and leading to the murder of indigenous Amazonian land protectors. The destruction of the Amazon is a global threat because this jungle is the lungs of the world that stores vast amounts of carbon that enters the atmosphere when the forest is destroyed.

    Instead, "International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr's office says Canada will continue its trade negotiations with Mercosur, the South American trading bloc that includes Brazil, despite demands to call a halt to the talks until more action is taken to protect the Amazon rainforest." (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/mercosur-negotiation-canada-tuesday-1.5...)

     

    The Amazon Is Burning. And It’s Because We Eat Beef

    Canada is not innocent in this as "Canada is home to almost 1,300 mining companies, constituting 75 percent of all the mining companies in the world ... 'Canada provides very favorable conditions,' Kneen told VICE. 'The listing requirements for the TSX [Toronto Stock Exchange] are pretty lax, the disclosure requirements are pretty lax, you don’t have to have Canadian directories or Canadian shareholders to be a Canadian company.' Whereas American companies can be prosecuted for environmental and social policies abroad under the U.S. Alien Tort Statute, Canada does not have any laws to hold companies accountable." (https://globaljournalist.org/2013/10/when-canadian-mining-companies-take...)

    In Brazil there are "30 Canadian mining companies operating" (https://news.mongabay.com/2017/12/mine-tailings-dam-failures-major-cause...)

    An environmental group wants the Canadian government to halt trade talks with Brazil and its far-right president Jair Bolsonaro over their failure to take action and accept global support to help combat the thousands of forest fires ravaging the Amazon rainforests.

    “We are in a climate emergency and so we need to have leaders who are going to take it seriously and want to work co-operatively with others around the world,” said Gretchen Fitzgerald, program director with the Sierra Club of Canada. ...

    “If we are a part of that in some ways through free trade, taking advantage of Brazil’s regime of deregulation, then we need to step up and stop trade negotiations until some real steps on the part of Brazil are made to protect the Amazon,” said Fitzgerald.

    The Amazon rainforest is often described as the “lungs of the Earth,” as it has the capacity to absorb massive levels of carbon dioxide and in turn produce upwards of 20 percent of the planet’s oxygen. ...

    The damage to the Amazon doesn’t just harm the environment but poses a threat to Indigenous people in Brazil as well.

    Barbara Zimmerman is the director of the Kayapo Project at the International Conservation Fund of Canada, which works directly with the Kayapo Indigenous tribe in the Brazilian Amazon to help them defend their traditional lands.

    Zimmerman says the attempts to clear their land for ranching and clear-cutting for logging and gold mining are a constant threat to the Kayapo people. They total around 10,000 in population and inhabit a 110,000-square kilometre range in the southeastern region of the Amazon rainforest, which is under direct threat of deforestation. ...

    “Their lands are extremely important for conservation and as well, of course, the immense amounts of carbon that are sequestered in those primary forest trees and the other aqua system services that are provided by this land area that they protect,” said Zimmerman.

    https://globalnews.ca/news/5820289/environmental-group-pressure-canada-b...

     

    jerrym

    Even before the request by the Sierra Club's to stop trade talks with Brazil because of the environmental destruction of the Amazon and its indigenous people, indigenous land protectors were being murdered in greater numbers, including by miners, an industry where 75% of corporate headquarters are in Canada because of its lax international mining laws. At the beginning of November, another one was murdered. 

    Waiapi people in Manila village in the Waiapi indigenous land in Amapa state, Brazil, in March 2019.Waiapi people in Manila village in the Waiapi indigenous land in Amapa state, Brazil, in March 2019. Apu Gomes

    In July, Viseni Waiapi, an indigenous environmental leader warned about the danger for indigenous people.

    Illegal gold miners armed with automatic weapons and shotguns, invaded the remote indigenous community of the Waiapi and murdered one of its chiefs in Brazil’s northern Amazon last week, according to several of the group’s leaders and indigenous rights activists.

    The body of chief Emyra Waiapi, 68, was discovered last Monday with several stab wounds, including to his genitals, one of the group’s leaders, Viseni Waiapi, said in an audio message sent to NBC reporters Saturday in Portuguese.

    “We are in great danger,” Viseni said. The invaders assaulted women and children and were accompanied by a pit bull as they roamed around several Waiapi villages day and night last week, using special night vision goggles to navigate the area in the dark, he said.

    The murder of international indigenous environmentalists contines with the latest being on November 2nd. 

     

     Paulo Paulino was a member of Guardians of the Forest, formed to ward off illegal logging gangs.

     Paulo Paulino was a member of Guardians of the Forest, formed to ward off illegal logging gangs. 

    A Brazilian indigenous land defender has been killed in an ambush by illegal loggers in an Amazon frontier region.

    According to a statement by the Brazilian Indigenous Peoples Association, Paulo Paulino Guajajara was shot and killed inside the Araribóia indigenous territory in Maranhão state. Another tribesman, Laércio Guajajara, was also shot and hospitalised and a logger has been reported missing. No body has yet been recovered. ...

    The tribesmen are members of an indigenous forest guard called Guardians of the Forest, which formed in 2012 to ward off logging gangs pillaging their rare, hardwood-rich reserve.

    Their work involves armed patrols and destroying logging encampments and has earned them dangerous enemies. Several Guardians in Maranhão have been killed in recent years, including three from Araribóia. ...

    Few land conflict-related killings in Brazil result in convictions, which advocates say has produced a culture of impunity. According to Brazil’s pastoral land commission, a rural violence watchdog, of 157 land conflict killings in Maranhão state between 1985 and 2017, just five cases went to court.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/02/brazilian-forest-guardian-...

     

    jerrym

    The map below shows how extensive the Amazonian wildfires are that threaten both the global environment and indigenous people .

    image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/re69weYvMWLOF6rT5n3Jm1b85lw=/1024x596/htt...

    The Amazonian fires are so large that they can be seen from space

    The Amazonian fires are so large that they can be seen from space (NASA Earth Observatory)

    Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/three-things-know-about-fires-...
    Give the gift of Smithsonian magazine for only $12! http://bit.ly/1cGUiGv
    Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter