Canada’s Diplomatic Support to Mining Under Scrutiny

In a series of tweets, Jackie McVicar has outlined the background to an important court case taking place in Canada regarding Canadian Government pressure on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the Marlin Mine in Western Guatemala.


Guate’s constitutional court upholds Maya Qeqchi right to consultation prior to mining in Indigenous territory. This is directly related to legal case in Canada where lawyers question role of Cnd embassy in Guatemala to push for Goldcorp’s mine despite IAHCR order for suspension.

How is it related? Just before Guate Min. Energy & Mines illegally granted licence to Hudbay Minerals to operate without consent of affected Q’eqchi Peoples (which led to Constitutional Court decision to suspend operations), an illegal licence was granted to Golcrop.

Affected Mam & Sipakapense were never consulted & fought tooth & nail to get Goldcorp out of territory after they were deceived by company into believeing they would benefit from a local development project. Almost immediately, there were negative impacts. They pleaded for help.

Indigenous communities saw their water sources contaminated & dry up. They filed complaint to #IACHR in 2007, showing they weren’t consulted. In a landmark decision in 2010, IACHR granted precautionary measures, asking Guatemala to shut down GC’s mine.

This was huge. It was the 1st – & only – time that IACHR granted this measure to protect lives & livelihoods of Indigenous nations impacted negatively by mining operations. It was significant that it was a Canadian mine as country shapes the global extractive industry.

Just after precautionary measures were granted, Maya Mam campesina Diodora Hernandez, active in her resistance against, Canadian supported Goldcorp mine, was shot in the head. The gold project not only put water at risk, it ushered in a wave of violence against peaceful protest.

At 1st Guatemalan state said it would comply with measures & shut down Golcorps’ Marlin Mine. But, then, something changed & they started backtracking. So did the IAHRC. The measures were eventually changed – shutting down the mine was no longer on the table.

So what happened? Prof Shin Imai started asking. But he didn’t get far. In lawsuit he filed, Imai alleges Cdn govt is improperly withholding info about its diplomatic interventions on behalf of Goldcorp when it faced a possible closure of its Marlin mine.

Today Prof. Imai is before a Cnd court that will decide whether or not federal govt must hand over more *unredacted* info requested through Access to Info related Canada’s role in changing the IACHR measures in order to benefit Goldcorp. Read more:

Goldcorp was embroiled in corruption allegations from from onset of its operations in Guatemala. Its GM Eduardo Villacorta has been on lam for 5+yrs after he was charged with co-optation of state & illegally financing a political party (tied to genocide) to benefit mining company

“Goldcorp entered under false pretenses & demonstratively involved in corruption to advance its economic interests over rights of affected Indigenous Peoples. Negative impacts of their activities have scarred us for life & continue to harm us…

…contamination of our rivers & destruction of our ancestral hills &medicines, cracked homes & fissures linked to mine’s operations & 1000s of people who still do not have access to drinking water,” says Francisco Bamaca, criminalized & part of group that filed IAHRC petition.

According to records that *are* public, Cdn officials communicated with Goldcorp at least 37 times & Guate govt contacts at least 17x btwn May 2010 & Sept 2011. There is *no* indication that they had any contact with tcommunities impacted by Marlin mine, like Francisco or Diodora

What does Shin Imai hope for with his lawsuit? Disclosure of docs so that public can scrutinize extent Cdn officials acted in service of Goldcorp’s interests & undermined Indigenous Maya Mam & Sipakapense communities’ efforts to defend their rights.

This isn’t just bout Golcorp. It’s about how Cdn extractive industry is propped up by Cdn gov’t despite serious harms mining companies commit. There are 0 mechanisms in Canada to hold these companies operating abroad accountable for irreparable damage & loss of life they cause.

Goldcorp’s legacy in Guatemala is destruction, pain, loss. Their social projects are falling down, water is scarse or contaminated. If Guatemala had’ve complied with IACHR precautionary measure & shut down mine,there would be a precedent for protecting communities.


The series of tweets, with photos and other links, can be found here, @pajarolindo, and an analysis, by the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, of the court case, here, Shin Imai v. Canada (Minister of Foreign Affairs).



Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Culture, Environment, Evictions, Genocide, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Legal, Lobbying, Military, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Violence

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