Monday, May 11, 2015

Something big was missing from Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources' shareholder meetings: the voices of communities impacted by their mines

On April 30th and May 8th respectively, Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources held their Annual General Meetings (AGM) in Canada to discuss their FY2014 accomplishments and future expansion plans at their mine sites in Guatemala.

What was missing, however, were the many voices of those impacted by Goldcorp and Tahoe's operations around the world - voices of communities whose water sources are becoming increasingly contaminated and drying up; voices of community leaders who are being criminalized for speaking out against the mining companies, and the voices of peaceful Guatemalans who are witnessing the military occupy their communities once more in order to protect private corporate interests.

Members of the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence
Network (BTS), the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network (MISN)
and other allies demonstrate in front of Goldcorp's office.
Photo credit: NISGUA
Organizers, activists and others in solidarity with mining-impacted communities gathered on April 30th outside Goldcorp's Toronto office to commemorate the life of 16-year-old Topacio Reynoso. Topacio was the Youth Coordinator of the Resistance in Mataquescuintla, near the Escobal mine, and was shot and killed in April 2014. Although the Escobal mine is owned by Tahoe Resources, Goldcorp retains a 29% controlling share in the company. 

"Rest in Power, Topacio!" Photo credit: NISGUA
Those present laid red carnations on the steps of Goldcorp's office in an act of solidarity with Topacio's family and friends as well as with communities who continue to face violence from mining operations. The flowers also symbolize the ongoing resistance to the Escobal project. In 2011, communities from San Rafael las Flores - which borders the Escobal mine - marched to the company's headquarters in Guatemala City and to the Canadian embassy to leave red carnations in an act of protest against the mining project.

Photo credit: NISGUA
Activists marched down Toronto's financial district to Goldcorp's shareholder AGM, carrying banners to denounce the violence suffered around the Marlin mine during its ten years of operation in Guatemala.

Photo credit: NISGUA
Photo credit: NISGUA
Community voices aren't being heard where the decisions are being made, and so demonstrators wheat-pasted some of the messages impacted communities wanted to tell investors outside Goldcorp's office and around Toronto's financial district.

Photo credit: Sarita Galvez
In a similar action on May 8th, members of the Mining Justice Alliance and Amnesty International gathered to bring some of these same messages to Tahoe Resources' shareholder AGM in Vancouver, Canada.

U.S. and Canadian-owned mining companies like Tahoe Resources and Goldcorp operate without the free, prior and informed consent of those most impacted by their operations. Instead of listening to the concerns of community members, these companies engage in practices of criminalization of local leaders, while promoting the implementation of militarized security strategies at their mine sites in an attempt to quell local opposition. 

Despite this violence, communities continue to stand up and say: "We're still here. We're still in resistance." 

To see more messages from those impacted by Tahoe's Escobal mine, click here

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