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Williams Lake chapter to screen ‘Defensora’ about mining injustice in Guatemala

The Council of Canadians Williams Lake chapter will be screening the documentary Defensora on March 16.

As noted on the film’s website, “Defensora documents the historic and on-going land and community defense struggles of Mayan Q’eqchi communities in eastern Guatemala, and their struggle for justice and remedy in Canadian courts against the nickel mining company Hudbay Minerals.” Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “Defensora is a deeply moving testimony to incredible courage in the face of wanton brutality and a shining tribute to the human search for justice.”

Adolfo Ich ChamanThe Williams Lake Tribune further explains, “Angelica Choc, the widow of a slain community leader near the Fenix mine in El Estor, Guatemala, will be in attendance to tell her story after the film. Angelica is the widow of slain Guatemalan community leader and anti-mining activist Adolfo Ich and the plaintiff in the Choc versus Hudbay Minerals lawsuit. Choc’s case is the first time that Canadian courts have allowed a case to move forward in Canada against a Canadian corporation operating overseas.”

The assertion is that Ich was shot and killed by private security guards employed by Hudbay Minerals in September 2009. The others challenging Hudbay in court include German Chub, who was reportedly shot by mine security the same day Ich was killed and lost the use of the lower part of his body, and Rosa Elbira and Margarita Caal Caal, who were gang-raped by mine security, police and military personnel in 2007 during a forcible eviction from their lands claimed by Hudbay Minerals.

A blog posted last month by the law firm Borden Ladner Gervais notes, “The plaintiffs [in Choc v. Hudbay Minerals Inc.], indigenous Mayans from Guatemala, sought damages against Hudbay and its subsidiaries for alleged human rights abuses by security personnel at the Guatemalan mine site. Hudbay sought to have the claims summarily dismissed on the ground that it was ‘plain and obvious’ that they disclosed no cause of action. However, in a July 2013 ruling, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice allowed the claims to proceed.”

Cory Wanless, a lawyer with Klippensteins, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, says a trial date is still two to five years away.

Further reading
Council of Canadians committed to support challenge against Hudbay mining company (November 2012 blog by Maude Barlow)
Bearing witness to a destructive mining industry (September 2011 blog by Maude Barlow)

Photo: Adolfo Ich Chaman was killed in September 2009. His widow Angelica Choc will be speaking at the Williams Lake chapter event on March 16. Photo by James Rodriguez.