MAC: Mines and Communities

Guatemala: Anti-Mining Activist Survives Second Armed Attack

Published by MAC on 2015-10-30
Source: CIEL, NISGUA, PAQG, MiningWatch Canada

Forty-eight international organizations have signed a letter jointly calling for the prompt investigation into the attack, which follows a pattern of violence against land defenders in opposition to Tahoe's Escobal mine.

Add your voice in condemning this violence and demand that the authorities undertake a full and impartial investigation into the attack.

Previous article on MAC: Guatemala: Member of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace in San Rafael Las Flores Detained

Community activists opposed to Tahoe Resources' Escobal mine have come under attack, again

Impunity Reigns, History Repeats: Anti-Mining Activist Survives Second Armed Attack

22 October 2015

Press Release from Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) - Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS) - MiningWatch Canada - Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) - Projet Accompagnement Québec Guatemala (PAQG)

(Guatemala/Ottawa/Washington/Tatamagouche) Forty-eight international organizations are calling for an investigation into the second armed attack in as many years against a well-known activist who is part of the peaceful resistance to Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala.

On Saturday, October 17, Alex Reynoso – a human rights and environmental activist – was shot by unknown assailants while traveling with five others in Mataquescuintla, Jalapa, Guatemala. Two other men, Marlon Loy Dominguez and Estuardo Bran Clavel, were also injured in the attack.

Reynoso was first shot and injured in April 2014 in an assault that killed his 16-year old daughter, Topacio, a well-known youth activist. Both Alex and Topacio were active in the peaceful resistance against US-Canadian company Tahoe Resources, which announced commercial production at its controversial silver mine in 2014. Alex is currently in stable condition, recuperating from a gunshot wound in his lower back.

There has been constant opposition to the Tahoe Resources project since it was proposed in this largely agricultural area. Before the mine went into operation, tens of thousands of people in the area had voted in community and municipal plebiscites against any mining. In Mataquescuintla alone, in 2012, over 23,000 people participated in a local plebiscite, and 98.3% voted against mining. Reynoso played a key role in organizing the vote. During Guatemala’s elections in September 2015, local mayors, including the two-term mayor from Mataquescuintla, and councilors won running on anti-mining platforms.

“The attack wasn't only against me, but also the local community development councils. We were at a meeting with the mayor to hear about the latest steps in the consultation process over mining and to thank the community for their work during the elections. On our way back home, the gunmen opened fire,” said Reynoso from the hospital.

Despite widespread public opposition to the project, however, Tahoe Resources maintains that it has had “great success” in educating local residents about the benefits of the project.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that people who oppose the Escobal mine have been attacked,” said Ellen Moore, Programs Coordinator with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA). “There is a clear and documented pattern of violence and persecution of environment defenders and community leaders who oppose Tahoe’s mine project. Also consistent is the impunity that surrounds those crimes.”

In 2013, private security guards shot seven men who were part of a peaceful protest outside the mine site. The former head of security for the company was charged in connection with the shooting after wire-tap evidence indicated that he targeted peaceful protesters, then tried to cover up the crime and flee the country. In June 2014, the seven men filed a civil suit against Tahoe Resources in the British Columbia Supreme Court for negligence and battery in connection with the violence.

Alex Reynoso blames impunity for last Saturday’s attack: “There was already an attack in which Topacio was killed, and there was no investigation. That's why they keep attacking.”

The letter sent from international organizations to Guatemala’s Attorney General calls for a full and impartial investigation, and for protection for Reynoso and others whose lives are at risk for defending their land, water and peace in their communities. The international organizations also called on Canadian and US Embassies in Guatemala to be attentive to the situation as it develops. They concluded by expressing their solidarity with the affected communities.

Despite repeat requests, the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board has refused to divest from Tahoe Resources. The CPPIB holds a $26 million investment in the company. In January 2015, Norway’s Council on Ethics recommended against investment in Tahoe Resources due to “unacceptable risk of the company contributing to serious human rights violations through its operation.”

Click here to add your name to the call for a full and impartial investigation.


Amanda Kistler, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), 202-742-5832, akistler(at)
Lisa Rankin, Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network, btscoordinator(at)
Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, (613) 569-3439, jen(at)
Megan Whelan, Network in Solidarity with the Peoples of Guatemala (NISGUA), (510)763-1403, megan(at)
Laurence Guénette, Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala, (514) 495-3131, paqg(at)

Letter to Guatemalan Authorities in English

Tahoe Resources kicks out peaceful protesters from Reno offices during the launch of the 2015 Tahoe on Trial speaking tour


Criminalizing protest and free speech across borders

13 October 2015

NISGUA’s Tahoe on Trial speaking tour kicked off yesterday by going right to the U.S. source - Tahoe’s U.S. headquarters in Reno, Nevada. We were honored to join local indigenous leaders and activists organized with the Nevada Progressive Leadership Alliance (PLAN Nevada) in downtown Reno for a rally to commemorate Indigenous Peoples’ Day and draw connections between grassroots struggles across borders. Together with other speakers, CODIDENA representative Llan Carlos Dávila denounced the neo-colonization of community lands through the imposition of resource extraction activities without consent, ongoing militarization and racism.

Those who spoke drew connections between the struggles to defend land and natural resources of indigenous and First Nations people in the U.S. and Canada with those opposing transnational mining in Guatemala.

From there, a handful of supporters brought concerns directly to Tahoe Resources’ offices about the ways the company is contributing to human rights violations around its Escobal mine in southeastern Guatemala. For years, CODIDENA and other communities impacted by Tahoe’s mine have called on the company to respect the results of consultations that have taken place in municipalities around the mine, where more than 55,000 people have voted against the mine’s presence. Communities have continuously denounced the repressive and violent tactics used against peaceful protesters, including legal charges brought against more than 90 people since 2011 for vocally opposing the mine. All cases have been thrown out for lack of evidence, but still, Tahoe hasn’t listened.

Unfortunately, this pattern of silencing criticism and criminalizing dissent continued at the company’s Reno office. Instead of receiving the 15 or so CODIDENA supporters who went into the office, Tahoe’s Head of Investor Relations Ira Gostin immediately informed us that we were trespassing. Instead of respectfully listening to PLAN Nevada’s concerns about Tahoe’s operations in Guatemala, Gostin told PLAN they were misinformed. Instead of talking with NISGUA about allegations of violence by Tahoe’s private security in Guatemala, Gostin called the police.

Tahoe’s corporate strategy has been to respond to criticism and opposition with criminalization. No doubt, the scale of repression in the United States is significantly different than the scale of repression in Guatemala. But the core reaction is the same. Tahoe attempts to silence dissent using fear, but communities continue to show that they cannot be bullied into standing aside.

At the rally earlier in the day, Pãpalōtl of the Nahuatl Nation read a quote from Waziyatawin, a Dakota professor, author, and activist from the Pezihutazizi Otunwe in southwestern Minnesota. She says: “We live in a police state. The most powerful nation on Earth uses force or the threat of force to maintain control over indigenous peoples, land and resources. According to the occupiers, the only acceptable response to this is compliance. That we must accept the threat of our lands, the rape of our mother Earth and our own subjection. If we do not, we are criminalized, incarcerated or killed.” She finished with this rallying call, “Yet today, we are here, brothers and sisters, to let them know we are still here and we will resist until the end, all for our sacred waters and our Mother Earth.”

On the 2015 Tahoe on Trial tour, NISGUA and CODIDENA are bringing the voices of those most impacted by Tahoe’s Escobal mine to the United States. Click here to find out three tangible things you can do right now to support impacted communities as they denounce ongoing militarization as a result of Tahoe's mining activities.

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