Trial of “Goldcorp 7” continues in Guatemala
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Trial of “Goldcorp 7” continues in Guatemala

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John Ahni Schertow
November 28, 2007
 

photo courtesy of www.paqg.org/

Rights Action sent out a reminder today about the ongoing legal case against the group of Mayan Farmers known as the GoldCorp 7.

If you’re not familiar with the case—in January, 2007, residents of the communities neighboring Goldcorp’s open pit, cyanide-leeching mine in San Marcos set up a blockade in an effort to start a dialogue with the company. Prior to this, the community repeatedly tried to talk with the company so their concerns could be addressed, but GoldCorp refused to talk.

About ten days into the blockade, and to the surprise of some, the company agreed to sit down and talk with the community, providing they first removed the blockade. The community promptly did so. But on the day of the first meeting, Goldcorp shamefully reneged on their agreement to talk

As it turned out, the agreement was no more than a ploy to get the blockade removed, while they were in court laying criminal charges against 22 people from the communities. Of those 22, 7 ended up getting arrest warrants issued against them.

Two weeks into February, 2 of the 7 were violently detained by police, who “illegally entered the men’s homes at 5:20 am, breaking locks, throwing things, turning over beds with sleeping children…” Out of fear, the remaining 5 turned themselves in voluntarily and were later released on bail.

Pictured above, you can see the Goldcorp 7, along with Javier de Leon Lopez (director of ADISMI). Front row, left to right: Pedro Alvaro de Leon, Javier de Leon Lopez. Back row, L-R: Antonio Felipe Bamaca, René Pérez, Cristobal Pérez, Francisco Salomon Bamaca, Fernando Basilio Perez and Vicente Patrocino Perez.

THE CHARGES

Fernando Basilio Perez is charged with:

Possible sentence: 2 to 9 years in prison.

Possible sentence: 3.5 to 14 years in prison.

Antonio Felipe Bamaca Hernández, René Pérez Velázquez, Cristóbal Eduardo Pérez Hernández, Pedro Alejandro de León Castañón and Patrocinio Vicente López Hernández are charged with:

Possible sentence: 1.5 to 6 years in prison.

(On top of this, Goldcorp claims that the protests cost them Q800,000. So on top of the jail sentences, they are also asking for financial damages.)

CRIMINALIZATION OF DEFENSE OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Regardless of the charges, this case is a fundamental violation of human rights; one that “exemplifies the racism and bias with which the Guatemalan justice system acts.” Rights Action explains. “As set out in previous Rights Action emailings, this entire “incident” began when Goldcorp Inc. refused to negotiate with the communities compensation for the harms and damages they are suffering. Soon after the meeting, Goldcorp/ Montana Exploradora company security guards attacked the community representatives with rocks, firing guns in the air, trying to illegal detain one of the leaders.

No charges were ever laid by investigating police against the company security guards.

In this case, like many others, malicious charges are being used by Goldcorp, with a team of presumably well paid lawyers, as a tool of repression against poor communities (with little funds to hire lawyers), who peacefully seek to defend their community development and environmental rights against the interests of transnational corporations or other powerful actors.

This case follows a pattern in Guatemala in which victims of human rights violations are subject to penal prosecution by their victimizers. The human rights abusers not only enjoy impunity for their harmful actions but they are able to manipulate the justice system as a tool for repression.”

TAKE ACTION
Please send your letters of concern to Goldcorp President and CEO Kevin McArthur, Canadian government officials and the Canada Pension Plan (a major investor in Goldcorp), to demand that the malicious legal charges against the Goldcorp 7 be dropped and that Goldcorp negotiate in good faith with the communities related to all the harms and damages.

Kevin McArthur, President and CEO
Goldcorp Inc.
Park Place
Suite 3400-666 Burrard Street
Vancouver, B.C. V6C 2X8
Tel: (604) 696-3000; Fax: (604) 696-3001; info@goldcorp.com;
directors@Goldcorp.com

COPIES TO:

Peter MacKay
Minister of Foreign Affairs
509-S Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa , Ontario K1A 0A6
(T) 613-992-6022
(F) 613-992-2337
mackay.p@parl.gc.ca

David Emerson
Minister of International Trade
House of Commons
Ottawa , Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 943-0267
Fax: (613) 943-0219
EMail: Emerson.D@parl.gc.ca

Gary Lunn
Minister of Natural Resources
House of Commons
Ottawa , Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 996-1119
Fax: (613) 996-0850
EMail: Lunn.G@parl.gc.ca

Josée Verner
Minister of International Cooperation
House of Commons
Ottawa , Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 996-4151
Fax: (613) 954-2269
EMail: Verner.J@parl.gc.ca

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