Forbidden Stories presented Mining Secrets, a leak of thousands of documents, shared by hacking collective ‘Guacamaya Roja’, that comes from mining giant Solway in Guatemala. The leak of more than eight million company documents revealed how the mining company, operating illegally in El Estor, a Maya Q’eqchi’ town near the Caribbean coastline, bought local police and Indigenous leaders, spied on journalists, classified residents as allies or enemies, and sought to expel communities from ancestral land.
Laurent Richard presents the introduction to Mining Secrets.
In Guatemala, journalist Carlos Choc at Prensa Comunitaria was harassed by the authorities and later forced into hiding after he began to look into the activities of a powerful mining conglomerate. Choc’s troubles began the day he took a photo of a fisherman who was killed by police during a protest against the mine, which had been accused of polluting Lake Izabal.
Last Spring, Forbidden Stories received a leak – hundreds of thousands of documents – from a collective of hackers calling themselves “Guacamaya Roja,” named after a tropical macaw present in Guatemala. The documents came from the local subsidiary of mining conglomerate Solway Group, operated mostly by Russian and Estonian citizens and headquartered in Switzerland.
In it, we discovered how journalists who reported on the mine were systematically profiled, surveilled and even followed by drones – another serious attack against the press.
The data leak also shows us the company’s efforts to avoid responsibility, despite abuses against the press and risks to the environment. “Mining Secrets” uncovers damning scientific studies hidden from public view and shows how loyalties were bought through generous donations. Even worse, we found proposed strategies for displacing dozens of families by spreading rumors about community leaders, all in an effort to extract the precious resource of ferronickel.
The presentation is divided into three sections, In Guatemala, the “Devil’s Metal” Is Ravaging Local Environments, Mining Secrets: Data Leak Reveals Aggressive Tactics of Mining Giant in Guatemala, and “The struggle of one territory must be the struggle of all”.
Linked to the presentation by Forbidden Stories is an article by Carmen Reina in Prensa Comunitaria, one of the partners of Forbidden Stories. The article is in Spanish and can be found here, La lucha contra los señores del Xibalbá: despojos por la industria extractiva y defensa del territorio en El Estor, Izabal.
Also linked to the presentation is an article by Julie López, in El Faro, another partner of Forbidden Stories. This article is in Spanish and can be found here, Filtración de documentos confirma cooptación del Estado guatemalteco por empresa minera.
Also linked to this presentation by Forbidden Stories is an article by Joe Parkin Daniels in The Guardian, and you can read that here, ‘Consent was never given’: indigenous groups oppose restarting Guatemala nickel mine. He writes that, ‘An investigation appears to show company employees discussing how to smear local opponents of the Central American nickel operation’.
Forbidden Stories is a network of journalists whose mission is to protect, pursue and publish the work of other journalists facing threats, prison, or murder, and you can find out more, here, Forbidden Stories.
Categories: Corruption, Criminalisation, Environment, Evictions, Guatemala, Human Rights, Indigenous peoples, Justice, Land, Mining, Poverty, Report, Resource Extraction, Solidarity in Action, Video, Violence