On Friday, dozens of people gathered outside the office of Chrystia Freeland, Minister of International Trade, to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of El Salvador who have waited seven years for a World Bank tribunal decision in the controversial case of OceanaGold v. El Salvador.
“In my community we are fighting for our lands and we will protect them until we die.” Margarita Caal Caal explained to the 150+ people who had packed into the Toronto Friends’ House on November 23rd. “I am here to tell you the truth.”
Margarita is one of 11 Mayan Q'eqchi' women from the tiny Guatemalan community of Lote Ocho at the frontlines of the struggle against Hudbay Minerals. The women had traveled to Toronto to be cross-examined as part of the lawsuit they launched against the Canadian mining company in 2010. The suit addresses the gang-rape of 11 women from Lote Ocho by mining company security personnel, police, and military during the forced eviction of their village and families from their ancestral lands on January 17, 2007. The company is also being sued for the murder of community leader Adolfo Ich Chamán and the shooting and paralyzing of German Chub.
Angélica Choc and Máxima Acuña, two of the land-defenders we most deeply admire, were threatened and attacked last week at their respective homes in Guatemala and Peru.
Yesterday, the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN) and allies held a vigil at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) annual conference to declare that “Canadian Mining Kills.” PDAC is the largest mining convention in the world, with over 25,000 attendees each year. While companies and investors gathered in the Investors Exchange to discuss profits, activists were there to remind them of the deadly toll of Canadian mining.
Almost 100 protestors gathered outside Barrick Gold’s Annual General Meeting in downtown Toronto yesterday to confront the company about human rights abuses and environmental violations at their mines and to stand with impacted communities. Although restricted to 10 inches of sidewalk space outside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, we made our presence known to the shareholders inside through chants and musical performances. An 8-foot house of cards was erected across the street to represent the shaky foundations upon which Barrick builds its business.
On November 26th in Toronto, 225 people attended a screening of Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians hosted by the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN). Huicholes tells the story of the Wixárika people and their struggle against the Mexican government and a Canadian mining company to preserve the sacred territory of Wirikuta. The screening was part of a North American tour to raise awareness and funds for the ongoing struggle against Vancouver-based Fist Majestic Silver, which purchased underground mineral rights in the town of Real de Catorce in 2009. The proceeds from the screening went directly to the impacted communities.
As the new BC-Yukon organizers, we are extremely excited to be joining the Council of Canadians team. And what a marvelous time to be joining. While the West Coast faces increasing threats to the land and water with companies going to ever-greater lengths in a massive resource rush, people power is also gaining strength.
IPS news reports protestors rallied in front of World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, "hoping to persuade a tribunal housed there to dismiss a case brought by Pacific Rim Mining Corporation against the government of El Salvador." Pacific Rim is a Canadian firm which used its incorporation in Nevada to use an investor-state dispute clause in the DR-CAFTA (more below) to sue El Salvador for the government's refusal to approve a cyanide-leech gold mine on the Lempa River.
"The case before the World Bank tribunal is a travesty," says Cecil W. Roberts, president of United Mine Workers of America, in the IPS article. "A ruling in favour of the Pacific Rim gold mining company would represent a threat to workers' rights and the environment."
Also in the rally, according to the article, were members of AFL-CIO, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Farm Labour Organizing Committee, the Communications Workers of America, the Steelworkers, the International Longshoremen's Association and CISPES (the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.)