Maritimers protest the actions of mining multinational

Shunpiking Online is printing the press release issued by the Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network with Latin America on 14 Janaury 2005.

On January 11, 2005, two indigenous farmers were killed for opposing Canada-US mining operations in Guatemala. They were killed in a confrontation with 3000 military and security forces sent to protect a convoy of mining equipment owned by Glamis Gold Limited. The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network with Latin America joins with groups across Canada to insist that the Canadian government stop promoting Canadian corporations that undermine indigenous rights and environmental well-being.

Steve Law, former human rights accompanier with Peace Brigades International and Coordinator of Social Justice programmes at Tatamagouche Centre, said today: "I find it incredibly disturbing that the so-called consultations by Glamis with the community were very selective. Once again, the poorest people are the ones most adversely affected, while the rich benefit."

Sr. Mary Corbett, a Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network member, asks a pointed question. "Having lived in Guatemala during the period identified as genocide by the UN-sponsored Truth Commission, I have a disturbing sense of dčja vu. At that time there was either a cloak of silence around the truth of that reality or the distortion of that truth by the dominant political and economic sectors. Given the continued imbalance of power and wealth, whose voices are we listening to now?"

Glamis Gold Limited, listed on both the Toronto and New York stock exchanges, houses its Canadian operation in Vancouver, BC. Under the former Guatemalan administration, the corporation obtained exploration permits, and with support money from the World Bank, invested $254 million in an open pit/underground site located in Sipacapa, Department of San Marcos. The Marlin project, as it is known, is expected to extract 13.3 million tones of gold for the corporation over an 11-year period.

There is widespread opposition throughout Guatemala to Glamis Gold's Marlin project. For forty days, Guatemalan citizens have protested and blockaded convoys on the PanAmerican Highway carrying mining equipment into the western highlands. On January 8, the Minister of the Interior threatened to bring in troops to accompany the convoy. On January 10, he made that threat a reality, resulting in the deaths of the two men and injuries to many others.

Despite the rejection of this mining project by indigenous communities and national and international legislation signed and ratified by the Guatemalan state promising to consult with Mayan peoples and accommodate and respect their wishes with regard to economic development, the Oscar Berger government has given the green light to Glamis Gold to proceed.

†Father Ernie Schibli of the Social Justice Committee, based in Montreal, has visited the Glamis Gold mine site on two occasions, most recently in November of 2004. He says, "As Canadians, we reject the Canadian Embassy's position in Guatemala that resource exploitation, based on the Canadian model, is the key to peace and prosperity in Guatemala's post-war period. Canadians expect our diplomatic staff to protect human rights and to†support constructive projects in which communities chart their own development path."

"We demand that the Canadian government repudiate the actions of the Guatemalan security forces and government in the harming and killing of citizens opposed to Glamis Gold Limited's Marlin Project," says Tara Scurr, BC-Yukon organizer for the Council of Canadians. "The Vancouver offices of Glamis Gold should expect concerned Canadians and Indigenous peoples to come knocking on their door to demand a halt to this destructive and deadly operation in Guatemala."

The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network therefore asks the Canadian government to stop facilitating business deals that result in death and destruction of the environment.

Media coordinator Kathryn Anderson,
Steve Law,
Sr. Mary Corbett,
h. 902-657-9161, o. 902-657-1098
Father Ernie Schibli, home and personal office 514-481-6544,
Social Justice Committee office, 514-933-6797, toll-free 1-866-RIGHTS-2

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