*This campaign is being organized on stolen, unceded Coast Salish territory, also known as Vancouver. Students for Mining Justice stands in solidarity with all Indigenous peoples affected by colonialism and violent extractivism.*
In February 2019, Vancouver-based Pan American Silver (PAS), one of the world’s biggest silver companies, acquired Tahoe Resources. In doing so they knowingly acquired a legacy of repression and Indigenous and community opposition to the Escobal mine.
In 2013, Tahoe Resources pressured the Guatemalan state to militarize communities surrounding the mine as peaceful opposition to the project grew through the organization of local and municipal referenda. The Guatemalan government and the company responded with violent repression and the criminalization of community members, including an armed attack by private security guards against peaceful protesters in April 2013.
The attack landed the company in British Columbia civil court where it was sued for negligence and battery. The case was recently settled and Pan American accepted responsibility for the violence and issued an apology to the victims. However, widespread opposition to the mine continues. Long-standing community resistance successfully brought the mine to a standstill in June 2017, and a month later, the Guatemalan Supreme court made the suspension official and determined that the Guatemalan government had discriminated against the Indigenous Xinka communities. Incredibly, since then, the giant mine has been paralyzed, and in 2018, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court reaffirmed the Supreme Court decision and ordered a consultation process be undertaken with the Xinka people.
In the midst of all this contention, the stalled Escobal mine was purchased by Pan American Silver. Now, instead of implementing a free and inclusive consultation process as mandated by the Guatemalan Supreme Court, the Guatemalan government is working in the interests of the Canadian mining company--by fast tracking an exclusionary, potentially illegal process that seems aimed at reopening the mine without Xinka consent.
At Pan American’s spring annual general meeting, Chairman of the Board and founder, Vancouverite, and B.C. conservationist and philanthropist, Ross Beaty, said “I believe that there's no sensible reason, social, environmental, or political, that Escobal shouldn't be generating $400M per year.”
Communities strongly disagree, as demonstrated by their dedicated and peaceful resistance to the mine; the Xinka community, not company executives in Vancouver, should be the ones who get to decide what kinds of livelihoods to pursue in their territories.
Please support the Xinka Parliament by donating to help cover their unending legal fees and/or share it widely within your communities. As Canadians, we have a responsibility to hold our governments and businesses accountable! Thank you for your support.
- Ana Simeon
- Kirsten Francescone