Military helicopter lands in Guatemalan community opposed to open-pit Fenix nickel mine

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On July 28, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted a Rights Action article from Prensa Comunitaria with this excerpt:

“The helicopter landed on the community football field ‘Prof. Adolfo Ich Chamán’, named after a local teacher, respected ombudsman of the village Q’eqchi’, husband of Angelica Choc, who was killed on September 27, 2009 – 150 metres from the camp – by security guards hired by the then owner Hudbay Minerals (Canadian miner).”

The article adds: “During the illegal raid on July 17, a soldier, ominous and openly filmed the exchange with Angelica, Ramiro, María, José Ich (son of Angelica Choc and Adolfo Ich) and other [community members].”

“This sends a message to them, to the Fishermen’s Guild of El Estor, and to all the community advocates who have been protesting about the illegality, damage and rape caused by mining, that the regime knows who they are and where they are.”

Human rights defenders in the department of Izabal oppose the open-pit Fenix nickel mine in the municipality of El Estor because it is causing serious environmental damage and irreparable harm to Lake Izabal, Guatemala’s largest freshwater lake.

The mine was first developed by Toronto-based Inco, then owned by Toronto-based Hudbay and Vancouver-based Skye Resources, and is now operated by the Russian-owned Solway Group that is based in Zug, Switzerland.

Eduardo Bin Poou, a Q’eqchi human rights defender and vice president of the Fishermen’s Association of El Estor, Izabal, has been criminalized for his opposition to the mine. PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) that has represented Bin Poou in court against this criminalization.

Rights Action adds: “Mining giant Switzerland continues to operate its mine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ignoring the suspension order [issued by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala last month].”

It then highlights: “The militarization of El Estor seeks to intimidate and silence all opposition against the illegal operation of the Solway mine.”

The full Rights Action/Prensa Comunitaria article can be read at La compañía minera Suiza Solway Investment Group y militares Guatemaltecos amenazan a Angélica, Ramiro y María Choc, defensores de la comunidad Maya Q’eqchi’.

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