Photo credits to Lisa Rankin and Xinca Parliament.
BC Mining Resisters: Xinca Parliament
Mining Company: Tahoe Resources and Pan American Silver
Written By: Amy Hope
The Xinca Parliament of Southern Guatemala have been resisting mining operations in their region since Goldcorp began exploration activities in 2007. Though ownership of the El Escobal mine has moved from Goldcorp to Tahoe Resources, and most recently to Vancouver-based Pan American Silver, community resistance has never wavered. Xinca Parliament have taken their fight to the streets and to the courts to ensure the harmful activities from Escobal’s mine are halted for good. Blockades on the road leading to the mine have successfully halted activities by turning away vehicles carrying supplies or equipment bound for the mine. The communities have also won a court injunction, ordering suspension of mining activities due to a lack of prior consultation. Residents in affected communities also set up a number of referendums when it was clear that adequate consultation was not taking place. Over 90% of participants rejected the mine.
In response to the resistance facing their activities, Tahoe Resources-sponsored security forces violently opposed peaceful protests. In 2013, protesters were shot with rubber bullets and live rounds when security forces encountered them.
Victims are currently plaintiffs in a civil lawsuit in Canada, which is one of the few instances of a Canadian company being brought to Canadian courts over their activities abroad. A win could set an important precedent discouraging mining companies and firms in other sectors from engaging in activities that could land them in court.
Though they have endured violence, coercion, and have even had their very existence denied by mining companies and the governments that support them, the Xinca people have endured and continued the struggle. They have successfully halted mining operations that would put their way of life in peril. They have protected their waters and their lands for their children. From blocking trucks, to marching in the streets, to engaging in legal battles both in Guatemala and Canada, local and indigenous communities surrounding the mine have found ways to resist from every angle possible.
For more information:
- Financial Post – Complaints Filed Asking for Investigation of Pan American & Tahoe Resources
- MiningWatch – Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board Alerted
- Water Shed Sentinel
- Tahoe on Trial
Join us to celebrate BC Mining Resisters of the Year at the GALA OF RESISTANCE on Wednesday, May 1st in Vancouver, BC, unceded Coast Salish Territories.