PBI-Guatemala accompanies groups at release of MiningWatch Canada’s Extraction Casino report

Published by Brent Patterson on

On July 23, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted that it had accompanied the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya and the Human Rights Law Firm at the presentation of the report Extraction Casino: Mining Companies Gambling with Latin American Lives and Sovereignty Through International Arbitration.

The 44-page report written by Jen Moore and Manuel Perez Rocha was published by our allies MiningWatch Canada, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL).

The paper notes that it “analyses 38 cases filed by global mining corporations against Latin American governments using the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system.”

It adds, “Reflective of the disproportionate participation of Canadian financing in the global mining sector, the majority of these cases were brought or threatened by Canadian-domiciled firms, although U.S., U.K., South African, Swiss, French, Dutch, Chilean, Australian and East Indian companies have also taken part.”

Pages 27-28 of the report focus on Guatemala and notes “Canada-based Goldcorp’s controversial Marlin Mine” and the “Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources [and] the court-ordered suspension of its Escobal silver mine”.

The report also highlights, “On May 16, 2018, the U.S. company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) filed a notice of intent to sue Guatemala for at least US$300 million.”

On June 12, PBI-Guatemala visited the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya camp and then posted on Facebook, “We remain aware of their security situation in the context of international arbitration between the State of Guatemala and the US mining company Kappes Cassidy & Associates (KCA).”

Residents from the communities of San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc — an area known as La Puya — have been fighting against the Progreso VII Derivada-El Tambor gold mine located just north of Guatemala City since March 2010.

The Peaceful Resistance of La Puya, which is made up of members from these communities, has stated, “[The environmental impact assessment] shows that the gold and silver are contained in arsenopyrite rock, which contains high levels of arsenic. Levels of arsenic in the water increased considerably during the time the mine was in operation.”

They have also expressed concern about the massive amount of water the mine would use in their water-scarce region.

While KCA is an American company, readers in Canada may want to take note that the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) has highlighted, “The company’s 2013 audited financial statements state that three quarters of the cost of the sale transaction will be paid to [Vancouver-based] Radius once gold shipments commence from the property and that Radius also anticipates quarterly payments from KCA based on gold production.”

PBI-Guatemala has accompaniment the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya since 2012 and the Human Rights Law Firm since 2013.

Timeline

2010 — Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala S.A (Exmingua) presents its environmental impact assessment for the proposed mine to the Guatemalan government.

March 2, 2012 — Hundreds of community members set up the La Puya encampment, a peaceful blockade at the site of the mine.

June 2012 — An assassination attempt is made on resistance leader Yolanda Oquelí by unknown assailants on her way home from the roadblock.

August 2012 — Vancouver-based mining company Radius Gold sells its shares in Exmingua to the Reno, Nevada–based mining company Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA).

November 2012 – PBI-Guatemala begins providing protective accompaniment to the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya.

December 2012 — Security guards hired by Exmingua intimidate journalists at the roadblock.

May 22, 2014 — Hydrogeology expert Robert Moran states that the company’s environmental impact assessment on the mine was the worst he had seen in 42 years of experience.

May 23, 2014 — Hundreds of police used tear gas and flash bombs to remove the women who formed the front line of the resistance at the blockade. PBI-Guatemala Project has noted, “PBI observed a disproportionate use of force by the police during that eviction.”

May 2014 — Nine leaders of the resistance are accused of making threats and assaulting employees at the mine. They were cleared of those charges in March 2015.

July 1, 2014 — Two PBI-Guatemala Project field volunteers who had witnessed the police action are told by Guatemalan officials that they have to leave the country within 10 days.

May 26, 2015 — Two hundred riot police use excessive force to remove members of the resistance when they block vehicles from entering the mine to mark the one-year anniversary of their eviction and a lack of response to their request for a dialogue.

July 15, 2015 — A constitutional court rules against the mine and directs the company to hold community consultations with those who are impacted by the mine. The court orders that the mine stop its operations within 15 days, but the company continues its operations and appeals the ruling.

February 2016 — The Guatemalan Supreme Court rules to provisionally suspend the mining licence due to lack of prior consultation. Operations at the mine are suspended.

May 2018 — KCA submits its notice of intent to file arbitration under the Free Trade Agreement between the Dominican Republic, Central America and the United States (DR-CAFTA). The company cites the community protests and unjust treatment by the state.

December 11, 2018 — KCA files a $300 million claim with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a World Bank arbitration mechanism.

February 1, 2019 — Ten organizations, including the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) and MiningWatch Canada, release a statement in solidarity with the resistance and in opposition to the investment challenge.

May 2, 2019 — The report Extraction Casino: Mining Companies Gambling with Latin American Lives and Sovereignty through Supranational Arbitration is released.

June 12, 2019 — PBI-Guatemala visits the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya camp and posts, “We remain aware of their security situation in the context of international arbitration between the State of Guatemala and the US mining company Kappes Cassidy & Associates (KCA).”

July 23, 2019 — PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Peaceful Resistance of La Puya and the Human Rights Law Firm at the release of the Extraction Casino report.

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