Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect $200. Go to the Hospital?

January 27, 2014 | By admin | Filed in: GoldcorpTahoe ResourcesGuatemalaHuman Rights.

How is it that when community leaders are wrongfully targeted
in the aftermath of violence connected with Tahoe Resources
Escobal mine in Guatemala, they spend months in jail, while the
company’s former head of security who faces criminal charges
for his alleged role in the violence last April is first given
house arrest and then allowed to avoid prison by arguing that
he is sick?

That’s what happened last week.

Former Tahoe head of security Alberto Rotondo has been under
house arrest since May 2013, when he was linked to an April
shooting that left six injured outside Tahoe Resources’ mine in
southeastern Guatemala. On January 22, he was declared in
contempt of court for failure to attend a hearing. As a result,
the substitute measures that allowed him to be under house
arrest were lifted and
an arrest warrant issued
. But instead of going to jail, on
January 23, he called in sick and went to the hospital instead
where he remains under arrest.

In sharp contrast to the leniency shown Rotondo, when the
Guatemalan government responded to last April’s violence by

declaring a state of siege
in the municipality of San
Rafael Las Flores in May, five community members were
immediately jailed. Two were released on bail after a couple of
months and three others spent
six miserable months in prison
. Finally, they were released
without charge given lack of evidence that they had done
anything wrong.

It is in this context that Tahoe Resources is celebrating that
the
Escobal mine reached commercial production
this month,
claiming that: “unanticipated social issues have been
addressed.”

But for the affected communities in peaceful resistance to the
mine operation, there is little to celebrate. Diverse community
efforts to make their voices heard have been undermined or flat
out rejected by the Guatemalan government and Tahoe Resources.
For example, just days before the company obtained its
exploitation license,
the Ministry of Energy and Mines dismissed outright more than
250 individual claims against the licence
over concerns
about potential impacts on health and water supplies in the
surrounding area. Community-convened plebiscites in accord with
Municipal Law, in which
thousands have demonstrated their opposition to the mine
project
, have also been ignored. Indeed, there is truly
nothing to celebrate when a mine is being built in the midst of
repression and violence.

The only thing that Tahoe Resources seems to have resolved is
how to operate despite ongoing conflict in Guatemala where the
company and its principal investor, Goldcorp, wield
considerable political and economic influence. Contrary to
company claims, the conflict with local communities continues;
it does not have a social licence to operate. Furthermore,

a national opinion poll released early last week
shows
opposition to mining across the country is up, at 66%,
something for which Goldcorp and Tahoe can take considerable
credit.

If the company were really to take “social issues” seriously,
it would stop operations to avoid further repression,
criminalization and violence, and out of respect for the local
communities. Join us in calling for Tahoe to pack up its bags
and leave San Rafael Las Flores in peace and add your name to
this call for support:
here
.


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