Nov2: Undermining Indigenous Rights

Undermining Indigenous Rights:
Conflicts with Mining Companies in Canada and Guatemala

Tues Nov 2, 5:30pm
Carleton University – University Centre room 378
‘UC’ building:

Throughout the colonial era and through to today, mining companies have enjoyed government sanctioned and un-fettered access to indigenous territories around the world. Canadian companies are currently at the fore of efforts to mine indigenous territories here in Canada and throughout the global south. This presentation will examine three examples of Canadian mining interests infringing on indigenous territories and how communities are reacting: the proposed mine in Tsilhqot’in Territory (Central BC) that would destroy Fish Lake; the Ring of Fire where despite their interest in potential mineral developments the rights of Cree communities are not being respected; and the Goldcorp mine in Guatemala where local communities have suffered water contamination and organized community referenda against mining in their communities.

Ramsey Hart is the Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. He works with mining-affected communities across Canada, participates in the environmental assessment of mining projects and works to reform outdated mining laws.


This event is part of Indigenous Sovereignty Week 2010 in Ottawa, Oct27-Nov4 – for full details please see

Organized by: Defenders of the Land; Indigenous Environmental Network; Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO); Bolivia Action Solidarity Network; MiningWatch; Project of Heart; Public Service Alliance of Canada

Sponsors: Canadian Union of Public Employees; Public Service Alliance of Canada; Canadian Union of Postal Workers; OPIRG/GRIPO-Ottawa; PSAC NCR Aboriginal Action Circle; PSAC National Women’s Department; CUPE Local 4600 (at Carleton University); Carleton University Graduate Students Association; PROMdemonium Fund; Canada Council for the Arts

The Business of Gold in Guatemala

Please join us for a public event with Grahame Russell, co-director of Rights Action – a grassroots organization working together with indigenous grassroots communities in Central America in resistance to human rights violations and in support of struggles for democracy, justice and Mother Earth:


6:30 pm
Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2010
Agora, Ground Floor of Jock Turcot University Centre, University of Ottawa (map)

In this event, we will present the documentary THE BUSINESS OF GOLD in Guatemala: Tale of a Conflict Foretold” followed by a Q&A session by Grahame Russell.

“The Business of Gold in Guatemala”, a 50-minute film, documents one struggle – the resistance of the Mayan-Mam people of San Miguel Ixtahuacan (in Guatemala) against the Canadian company Goldcorp Inc.

In May 2007, former chairman of the Vancouver-based mining company Goldcorp Inc – Ian Telfer – donated $25 million to the School of Management of the University of Ottawa.  In honour of his donation, the School of Management was renamed the Telfer School of Management, ignoring environmental and health harms, and other human rights violations, caused by the mines operated by Goldcorp in Guatemala, Honduras and else-where in the world.

During the presentation, Grahame will focus particular attention on:

How “northern actors” – the USA and Canadian governments, businesses, investors, the World Bank, etc. – contribute to and benefit from the unjust economic model and resultant exploitation and poverty, environmental harms, and repression; and, from there, how North Americans, from all walks of life, can get more involved in these and other struggles to help achieve “another world is possible and necessary”.

Related article:

Threat of more mining related tension & violence in Mayan Mam community of Sacmuj, near Goldcorp’s “Marlin” mine



With tax charitable status in Canada and the USA, Rights Action funds and works to eliminate poverty and the underlying causes of poverty.  RA supports community-based development, environmental, disaster relief and human rights projects and organizations in Guatemala and Honduras, as well as in Chiapas [Mexico], El Salvador and Haiti.  RA educates about and is involved in other work aimed at critically understanding unjust north-south relations and global development, environmental and human rights issues and the challenges of poverty eradication.


Grahame – a Canadian – lives in Connecticut with his two children.  He is a graduate of the University of Guelph (Latin American studies) and the Faculty of Law, Ottawa University.  From 1984-1995, Grahame worked with a range of development, environmental and human rights solidarity and NGO groups in Mexico and Central America, living for 8 years in the region.  With Rights Action since 1995, Grahame has led Rights Action’s work in the USA and Canada.  Grahame’s work has taken him throughout Guatemala, Honduras, Chiapas and Oaxaca, as well as to El Salvador and Haiti.  Grahame speaks and publishes regularly about the wide range of issues referred to above.  He is the author of: “The Never Ending” (1992) and “Code Z59.5: There is Only One People Here” (2010).

THE BUSINESS OF GOLD in Guatemala: Tale of a Conflict Foretold

Even as the government of Guatemala was signing the 1996 “Peace Accords”, it was – unbeknownst to the Guatemala population – giving out hundreds of mining concessions to international (mainly Canadian) mining companies.  Since the early 2000s, serious conflicts have broken out in Guatemala – as well as else-where in Central America – due to the environmental and health harms and other violations of human and indigenous rights being caused by mainly Canadian mining companies.


* This event is brought to you by Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Movement – Ottawa, Mining Watch Canada, Public Service Alliance of Canada – Social Justice Fund, and Territorio Libre

* Admission is free, donations are welcome.  All donations will go to support the community groups Rights Action works with in Guatemala & Honduras.

Community & Indigenous Resistance to Harmful Gold Mining in Guatemala & Honduras

UPDATES – May 13, 2010

Special thanks to Tito Medina for bringing music to this talk (click here to see Tito’s performance) and Ramsey Hart for translating our speakers’ presentations from Spanish to English.  Also joining us in this talk were Francois Guindon from NISGUA and Feliciano Orellana, a former employee of Goldcorp subsidiary Entre Mares working in the Cerro Blanco Mine, Goldcorp’s second large mine in Guatemala.

Carlos Amador:
Another world is possible only if we work together
Borders are dividing us … Conscious men and women shouldn’t let borders divide us …
Borders are for Capitalism


  • Canadian government is pressuring the new Honduran government following the coup to open its arms more widely to the investments of Canadian mining companies
  • The current prime minister of Canada is a big friend of the mining companies
  • With the opening of new investments in mining, we are facing a new form of colonization
  • 90 mining concessions in 80 counties (in Honduras) are owned by Canadian mining companies
  • Canadian Pension Plan has $500 million dollars invested in Goldcorp Inc.
  • Our problems are your problems … we have the moral and ethical obligations to fight for the dignity of people, therefore we should unite ourselves
  • Public funds from Canada are going towards companies that are damaging human rights, are violating the fundamental right, that is right to life, for instance, in Guatemala
  • Near Marlin mine in Guatemala 120 homes have been damaged because of the effects of explosion used to blast the rocks out of the pit, 80 streams have dried out, the river below the mine is contaminated …
  • When a mining company arrives, it often creates conflict, divides communities, tears apart the social fabrics that tie people together
  • Over 1 million people in 42 different communities across the country (Guatemala) don’t want mining in their territories
  • In the area of Marlin mine (Guatemala), 24 communities have sent a clear message that they don’t want the activities of Goldcorp to continue
  • The ILO (International Labour Organization) said all mining operations in Guatemala should be suspended because the mining companies have violated the right to free, prior, informed consent of Indigenous communities.

What to do:

Write to Canadian Pension Plan, one of Goldcorp’s investors, to stop investing in Goldcrop and REALLY exercise socially responsible investing:

Canada Pension Plan
John H Butler, 416 868-1171, One Queen St. East, Suite 2600, Toronto ON, M5C-2W5 — $349,000,000 of shares in Goldcorp as of March 2010
CANADA PENSION PLAN Investment Board:, 416-868-4075, Toll Free: 1-866-557-9510;
Manuel Pedrosa, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, 416-868-4682,

Photos & Videos:

Video – Javier de Leon – Resistance to Harmful Gold Mining in Guatemala
JAVIER de LEON is a Mayan Mam community leader from the village of Maquivil, municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, department of San Marcos. From his small home, he looks across at Goldcorp’s ever expanding open-pit, cyanide-leaching gold mine – the “Marlin” mine. Since 2004, Javier has been educating and organizing Mayan Mam communities and working to resist and demand justice for the health and environmental harms and human rights violations caused by Goldcorp’s mine.

Javier de Leon & Ramsey Hart


Video – Carlos Amador – Community Resistance to Harmful Gold Mining in Honduras
CARLOS AMADOR is a teacher and community leader in El Porvenir, 15 kilometres from Goldcorp’s open-pit, cyanide-leaching gold mine – the “San Martin” mine. Since 2000, Carlos has been educating and organizing local communities in the Siria Valley, and working to resist and demand justice for the health and environmental harms and human rights violations caused by Goldcorp’s mine.

Carlos Amador


Video – Feliciano Orellana (only the first half of Feliciano’s talk was filmed … my camera stopped working after the first half.)
Feliciano Orellana is a representative of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Franciscan Family, in the Department of Jutiapa in eastern Guatemala. Employed by Goldcorp subsidiary Entre Mares in 1997 as one of the first employee, he later got hired in 2008 and suffered an almost Fatal accident on the job, for which he received no compensation. Now Feliciano is an active leader in his community and wants to share his experience on Goldcorp Human Rights Violations and the communities’ opposition to the Cerro Blanco Mine, Goldcorp’ second large mine in Guatemala.

Francois Guindon & Feliciano Orellana

Related to this topic:

Allan Lissner – Someone Else’s Treasure – Guatemala
CTV’s “W5” program: “ARE CANADIAN MINING COMPANIES GIVING US A BAD REPUTATION ABROAD?”  In it, W5 focuses critical attention on the harmful impacts of Goldcorp Inc’s gold mine in Mayan Mam communities, and HudBay Mineral’s nickel mine in Mayan Qeqchi communities.
Birarpatch Magazine – May/June 2010: Canada and the World
Publication from International Women and Mining Network – Defending Land, Life & Dignity, WOMEN FROM MINING AFFECTED COMMUNITIES SPEAK OUT
From – Scientists Find Elevated Levels of Potentially Toxic Metals in Some Guatemalans Living Near Goldcorp-owned Mine

The famous Marlin Mine located in municipality of San Miguel Ixtahuacan, department of San Marcos, Guatemala

Continue reading “Community & Indigenous Resistance to Harmful Gold Mining in Guatemala & Honduras”