For immediate release: March 28, 2011
Toronto, Canada and El Estor, Guatemala:
Rosa Elbira Coc Ich and ten other indigenous Mayan Q'eqchi' women filed a lawsuit Monday against Canadian mining companies HMI Nickel, and its corporate owner, HudBay Minerals, regarding mining-related gang-rapes suffered by them near a Canadian-owned mining site in Guatemala.
On January 17, 2007, the eleven women were gang-raped by mining company security personnel, police and military during the forceful expulsion of Mayan Q'eqchi' families from their farms and homes in the community of "Lote Ocho". These armed evictions were sought by HMI Nickel in relation to its Fenix mining project, located on the north shores of Lake Izabal, Guatemala.
News broke last week that the U.S. government purposefully exposed hundreds of men in Guatemala to syphilis in ghoulish medical experiments conducted during the late 1940s. As soon as the story got out, President Barack Obama phoned President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala to apologize. Colom called the experiments "an incredible violation of human rights." Colom also says his government is studying whether it can bring the case to an international court.
"I want Canadians to know that the silver, and possibly the gold, that is being extracted from Guatemala is bloodstained," said human rights lawyer and activist, Rafael Maldonaldo.
There has been a lack of consultation between Guatemala's government and Tahoe Resources Inc. (a Canada-based mining company), and the local communities in the region.
Maggie Padlewska travelled there last month, to explore the allegations, and to document the voices of the communities impacted by Tahoe's Escobal Mine in San Rafael and surrounding areas.
For the past 25 years, Leocadio Juracan has been the National Coordinator of the Comité Campesino del Altiplano – CCDA (Highland’s Committee of Peasant Farmers). Beginning his journey in the struggle for land and labour rights in Guatemala at just 14 years old when he participated in the first ever national Campesino March, he later played a role as a spokesman for the campesino movement in the peace negotiations, leading to the 1996 Peace Accords which officially marked the end of Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict. Since then, Mr. Juracan has accompanied and represented diverse small scale farmers groups in their struggle for the defense and recovery of territory and resources. In the late 1990s, Mr.