EL ESTOR, GUATEMALA—Ribbons of sweat roll down German Chub’s face, as he pushes his wheelchair around his rocky yard, careful not to run over the hens pecking in the dirt or bump into his neighbour’s free-roaming pig.
An illiterate Mayan Q’eqchi’ farmer who grows mangoes and bananas, Chub’s life would be difficult enough in this small, indolent city in eastern Guatemala, where the temperature soars to 38C, even if he weren’t paralyzed, with a bullet lodged in his spine.
Chub maintains a stiff resolve, proudly showing off his ability to saw logs, and even hoist himself into the passenger side of a pickup truck. But life is a struggle. Sometimes he can’t make it to the bathroom in time. Sometimes villagers laugh at his disability. And sometimes he is crying inside, despite the ready smile on his face.
“Before, I had total freedom and could go anywhere I wanted to,” says Chub, 29. “I had my whole life ahead of me. Now things are difficult. I can’t work. I have to live with my parents. I’ll never have another child.”
On Sept. 27, 2009, Chub was shot, allegedly by the head of security for Central America’s largest nickel mine, on contested land owned by Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN) and what was then its Canadian parent company, HudBay Minerals Inc.
Chub and 12 others are now at the centre of three separate negligence lawsuits against HudBay making their way slowly through Ontario Superior Court. In total, they are seeking $15 million in compensatory and $64 million in punitive damages.
The other plaintiffs include the wife of Adolfo Ich, a teacher and father of five, who was shot and killed on Sept. 27, 2009, and 11 women who allege they were raped by CGN security guards in 2007, when the Fenix mine was owned by Skye Resources, later bought by HudBay.
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