It was the first advocacy effort of its kind in a mining conflict that has spanned a decade, three countries and multiple legal challenges.
In November, a representative of Guatemala’s Indigenous Xinka people embarked on a weeklong speaking tour in Victoria and Vancouver to denounce what he sees as efforts by Vancouver-based Pan American Silver Corp. (TSX:PAAS) and the government of Guatemala to undermine Indigenous rights in his country.
“Pan American doesn’t have a social licence to operate,” Luis Fernando García Monroy told students, alumni and faculty at the University of British Columbia (UBC) on November 21. “We have been left out of the consultation process,” he said. “The company wants to promote a different kind of consultation.”
In a series of events not unlike those surrounding Canada’s controversial Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala determined last year that the government of Guatemala had failed to meaningfully consult Indigenous communities around the Escobal silver mine before granting the project a mining licence.
The mine’s operations have been suspended since June 2017. Pan American’s third-quarter care and maintenance costs – primarily related to Escobal – totalled $6.4 million.
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