{"code":"24017","sect":"Centroam\u00e9rica","sect_slug":"centroamerica","hits":"1269","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/en\/202002\/centroamerica\/24017","link_edit":"","name":"Canada: The Other Imperial Power in Latin America","slug":"canada-the-other-imperial-power-in-latin-america","info":"","mtag":"International","noun":{"html":"Heather Gies","data":{"heather-gies":{"sort":"","slug":"heather-gies","path":"heather_gies","name":"Heather Gies","edge":"0","init":"0"}}},"view":"1269","pict":{"cms-image-000026238-jpg":{"feat":"1","sort":"26238","name":"cms-image-000026238.JPG","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000026238.JPG","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000026238.JPG","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000026238-jpg","text":"<p>Jos\u00e9 Cac Pop (39), Juana Choc Tiul (40), Sebasti\u00e1n Choc (85), Jer\u00f3nimo Cac Choc (12) y Zoila Mar\u00eda Cac Choc (3) son parte de la familia establecida en el lugar donde muri\u00f3 Antonio Ac Beb, durante los desplazamientos que la aldea Miralvalle sufri\u00f3 en el a\u00f1o 2011. Esta, como la mayor parte de familias de esta aldea en Alta Verap\u00e1z, no tiene ning\u00fan ingreso econ\u00f3mico.\/Foto El Faro: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EJos\u00e9 Cac Pop (39), Juana Choc Tiul (40), Sebasti\u00e1n Choc (85), Jer\u00f3nimo Cac Choc (12) y Zoila Mar\u00eda Cac Choc (3) son parte de la familia establecida en el lugar donde muri\u00f3 Antonio Ac Beb, durante los desplazamientos que la aldea Miralvalle sufri\u00f3 en el a\u00f1o 2011. Esta, como la mayor parte de familias de esta aldea en Alta Verap\u00e1z, no tiene ning\u00fan ingreso econ\u00f3mico.\/Foto El Faro: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\u003C\/p\u003E"},"cms-image-000032081-jpg":{"feat":"0","sort":"32081","name":"cms-image-000032081.jpg","link":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000032081.jpg","path":"https:\/\/elfaro.net\/images\/cms-image-000032081.jpg","back":"","slug":"cms-image-000032081-jpg","text":"<p>Convocatoria del alcalde del municipio Fray Bartolom\u00e9 de las Casas en la comunal de\u00a0Secoyou\u00a0del departamento de Alta Verapaz.\u00a0Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u00a0\u00a0<\/p>","capt":"\u003Cp\u003EConvocatoria del alcalde del municipio Fray Bartolom\u00e9 de las Casas en la comunal de\u00a0Secoyou\u00a0del departamento de Alta Verapaz.\u00a0Carlos Barrera\/El Faro\u00a0\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E"}},"pict_main__sort":26238,"date":{"live":"2020\/02\/20"},"data_post_dateLive_YY":"2020","data_post_dateLive_MM":"02","data_post_dateLive_DD":"20","text":"\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003Cbr\/\u003E \u003Cfigure class=\"pict pict_land pict_move_posc 0 cs_img cs_img--curr rule--ss_c\" data-shot=\"pict\" data-hint=\"pict\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"pict__pobj text-overflow\"\u003E\u003Cimg src=https:\/\/elfaro.net\/get_img?ImageWidth=2000&ImageHeight=1333&ImageId=26238 class=\"pobj\" style=\"max-width: 100%\" rel=\"resizable\" alt=\"Jos\u00e9 Cac Pop (39), Juana Choc Tiul (40), Sebasti\u00e1n Choc (85), Jer\u00f3nimo Cac Choc (12) y Zoila Mar\u00eda Cac Choc (3) son parte de la familia establecida en el lugar donde muri\u00f3 Antonio Ac Beb, durante los desplazamientos que la aldea Miralvalle sufri\u00f3 en el a\u00f1o 2011. Esta, como la mayor parte de familias de esta aldea en Alta Verap\u00e1z, no tiene ning\u00fan ingreso econ\u00f3mico.\/Foto El Faro: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a\" \/\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cfigcaption class=\"pict__text cs_img_caption folk_content typo_buttons line--ss_s0c line--ss_s0c--auto block full-width text-overflow rule--ss_l relative\"\u003E \u003Cdiv class=\"__content block-inline full-width align-top tint-text--idle relative\"\u003E Jos\u00e9 Cac Pop (39), Juana Choc Tiul (40), Sebasti\u00e1n Choc (85), Jer\u00f3nimo Cac Choc (12) y Zoila Mar\u00eda Cac Choc (3) son parte de la familia establecida en el lugar donde muri\u00f3 Antonio Ac Beb, durante los desplazamientos que la aldea Miralvalle sufri\u00f3 en el a\u00f1o 2011. Esta, como la mayor parte de familias de esta aldea en Alta Verap\u00e1z, no tiene ning\u00fan ingreso econ\u00f3mico.\/Foto El Faro: V\u00edctor Pe\u00f1a \u003Cdiv class=\"photographer text_italic rule--ss_l tint-text--idle\"\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/div\u003E \u003C\/figcaption\u003E \u003C\/figure\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn 2020, more than a decade after assailants hacked her husband with a machete and shot him in the head, Angelica Choc is still fighting for justice. A teacher and respected leader in their Maya Q'eqchi community in eastern Guatemala, her husband Adolfo Ich Cham\u00e1n was an outspoken opponent of the Canadian-owned Fenix nickel mine. Witnesses say security agents working for the mine killed him.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIch\u2019s killing was part of a series of violent attacks\u2014all allegedly at the hands of Fenix security personnel\u2014against communities standing in the way of the mining project. These included the shooting of another community member, German Chub Choc, which left him paralyzed, and the 2007 forced eviction and \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.chocversushudbay.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2010\/11\/Amended-Statement-of-Claim-Caal-v.-HudBay-FILED.pdf\"\u003Egang rape of 11 women\u003C\/a\u003E in a neighboring village, Lote Ocho.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cDespite seeking justice, I haven\u2019t been heard for more than 10 years,\u201d Angelica Choc told me by phone. \u201cWhy do foreigners have to come to our communities to dispossess and steal from us? We\u2019re paying with our bodies.\u201d Choc is now a plaintiff in a precedent-setting \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/www.chocversushudbay.com\/wp-content\/uploads\/2010\/11\/Choc-v-Hudbay-Statement-of-Claim-updated-Oct-2013.pdf\"\u003Ecivil lawsuit\u003C\/a\u003E yet to go to trial in Toronto against Canadian mining company HudBay Resources over her husband\u2019s death.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EThe case exposes many of the hallmarks of Canadian mining\u2019s egregious track record in Latin America. The 2007 and 2009 evictions and violence also echoed another bloody episode linked to extraction at the same site. In 1978, as Canadian mining giant International Nickel Company (INCO) ramped up one of its first forays outside Canadian borders in the throes of Guatemala\u2019s brutal armed conflict, the Guatemalan military massacred \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.refworld.org\/docid\/3ae6a9ba4.html\"\u003Escores of Q\u2019eqchi people in Panz\u00f3s\u003C\/a\u003E, Alta Verapaz. As with the roots of Guatemala\u2019s dirty war, this massacre began with a land conflict. The victims had \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.academia.edu\/612792\/_We_Have_to_Protect_the_Investors_Development_and_Canadian_Mining_Companies_in_Guatemala\"\u003Emarched to Panz\u00f3s\u003C\/a\u003E to protest increasing land pressures and evictions, including INCO\u2019s interests encroaching on their territories.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EINCO has been a forebear to Canadian mining\u2019s aggressive expansion in Latin American over the past three decades, its activity in Guatemala foreshadowing the violent and imperial machinations of Canadian mining interests in the region that the industry is notorious for today\u2014and continues to get away with.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFirst incorporated in New York in the early 1900s with the backing of J.P. Morgan, INCO soon became the \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.referenceforbusiness.com\/history2\/59\/INCO-LIMITED.html\"\u003Eworld\u2019s leading nickel producer and began dominating the U.S. market\u003C\/a\u003E. The company later moved north of the border, where it held flagship operations in the mining heartland of Sudbury, Ontario. Crediting the relocation into Canada for INCO\u2019s success, a 1967 Forbes article noted that Canada offered the company \u201ca sanctuary from high taxes and antitrust\u201d it would have been subject to in the United States. In continuing to promise tax incentives and a lax regulatory environment despite years of calls to address abuses, Canada remains one of the world\u2019s primary havens for mining companies: the country is home to \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.thetricontinental.org\/wp-content\/uploads\/2019\/04\/190430_Briefing_Mining_Final_Web.pdf\"\u003E60 percent\u003C\/a\u003E of the world\u2019s mining companies\u2019 headquarters. From their tax-and-regulatory sanctuary in Canada, these companies foray abroad to dig into the earth and extract riches, sometimes trampling the environment and human rights along the way.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E***\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIndustrial mining began to emerge in Guatemala in the mid-20th century against a backdrop of a brewing civil war. \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www-tandfonline-com.proxy.library.nyu.edu\/doi\/full\/10.1080\/23251042.2015.1046204\"\u003EAccording to\u003C\/a\u003E sociologist Samantha Fox, Guatemala\u2019s armed\u00a0 conflict \u201cviolently reinscribed the relations of domination set forth during the conquest\u201d and \u201cset the groundwork for today\u2019s extractive industry.\u201d In 1951, a World Bank economic development \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/documents.worldbank.org\/curated\/en\/835191468751555135\/The-economic-development-of-Guatemala-the-report-of-a-mission\"\u003Emission\u003C\/a\u003E documented Guatemala\u2019s \u201cmajor\u201d mineral deposits and recommended the country expand mining exploration, broaden concession rights, and systematically survey its mineral resources. Around the same time, U.S. State Department researchers \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/pubs.usgs.gov\/bul\/1034\/report.pdf\"\u003Emapped\u003C\/a\u003E mineral deposits in Central America, identifying in a report issued just three years after the CIA helped topple Guatemala\u2019s democratically elected president \u201cdeposits of lead, zinc, mica, and quartz in Guatemala\u201d and other minerals across the region. These findings would help spur a resource rush benefiting globally dominant mining corporations.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhen INCO began to turn its sights \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca\/en\/article\/inco-limited\"\u003Eoutside of Canada\u2019s borders in the 1960s\u003C\/a\u003E, Guatemala was one of its first targets. By 1965, in the midst of a devastating 36-year civil war and genocide against Maya Indigenous people Guatemala had \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/link.springer.com\/article\/10.1007\/BF00572937\"\u003Eintroduced a new mining code\u003C\/a\u003E allowing open pit mining in the country for the first time. INCO helped \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tandfonline.com\/doi\/abs\/10.1080\/23251042.2015.1046204?journalCode=rens20\"\u003Ecraft\u003C\/a\u003E the legislation.\u00a0 \u201cWe had to grow or stagnate,\u201d INCO chairman Henry S. Wingate told Forbes in 1967. He boasted plans to tap into \u201cthe biggest potential sources of nickel in the Free World outside of Canada,\u201d and was looking in Guatemala, as well as in Indonesia and New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAmid high global nickel demand and a spate of labor strikes in Sudbury, in 1965 INCO \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.academia.edu\/612792\/_We_Have_to_Protect_the_Investors_Development_and_Canadian_Mining_Companies_in_Guatemala\"\u003Esecured\u003C\/a\u003E a 40-year concession to mine near Guatemala\u2019s Lake Izabal in El Estor as the 80-percent partner in local subsidiary Exmibal. The 40-year deal was a steal for INCO. \u201cThe mining operation did not pay a mining tax because it was declared a \u2018transformational industry,\u2019\u201d John H. Bradbury \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.jstor.org\/stable\/143868?seq=1\"\u003Ewrote\u003C\/a\u003E in the journal Economic Geography in 1985. \u201cThe Guatemala government viewed INCO and Exmibal as a model of foreign investment, its Canadian origins representing a form of diversity away from United States firms and investment.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBusiness circles also saw the deal as a new precedent, according to a 1974 \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tandfonline.com\/doi\/abs\/10.1080\/10714839.1974.11724079\"\u003Earticle\u003C\/a\u003E in NACLA\u2019s Latin America and Empire Report. The report noted that planned investment in the mine would mark \u201ca major shift in the Guatemalan economy\u201d by more than doubling existing foreign investment. Ominously, \u201cEXMIBAL promised to become as central to the Guatemalan economy as the United Fruit Co. had been 50 years earlier.\u201d It was an early precursor to Canadian mining interests directly shaping mining law in the region in recent years, such as in post-coup Honduras and \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca\/en\/article\/new-cida-code-provokes-controversy\"\u003Ein Colombia\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EBut even before heading abroad, the roots of INCO\u2019s empire back in Canada had already established a dirty legacy. It had, according to a $550 billion \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.sootoday.com\/local-news\/whitefish-lake-first-nation-sues-for-return-of-land-116651\"\u003Elawsuit\u003C\/a\u003E launched in 2008 by the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek, also known as Whitefish Lake First Nation, developed nickel and copper mines on stolen Indigenous land. The First Nation has also suffered mining-related \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.policyalternatives.ca\/publications\/monitor\/path-destruction\"\u003Epollution\u003C\/a\u003E, including the presence of heavy metals, acid rain, and contamination of traditional food sources.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EOpen Veins\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWhile Spanish colonizers \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.britannica.com\/place\/Honduras\/The-20th-century\"\u003Emined gold\u003C\/a\u003E in Honduras in the early 16th century, precious metals deposits discovered in the region were marginal in comparison to discoveries in Mexico and parts of South America, where enslaved Indigenous and African people hauled exorbitant riches out of the open veins at mines like Potos\u00ed. In Central America, the colonial economy developed around extractive agriculture, especially cacao and indigo, the treasure of El Salvador\u2019s Indigenous Pipil. Centuries later, oil and nickel began to be hauled up from the dirt in Guatemala\u2019s Alta Verapaz region, where INCO\u2019s Exmibal endeavors were stoking land conflicts in the 1970s. The Panz\u00f3s massacre, in 1978, marked a \u201c\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/books.google.com\/books?id=6FivSpNY2fkC&pg=PA132&lpg=PA132&dq=panzos+massacre+prelude+to+genocide&source=bl&ots=F2joARK-wt&sig=ACfU3U17BJqv79rayJRje3or6kmT1hkufA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwia9qyyudzmAhUIc98KHaT2AEoQ6AEwAXoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false\"\u003Eprelude to genocide\u003C\/a\u003E,\u201d in historian Greg Grandin\u2019s words; an initial tally by church workers put the death toll at 114, the Washington Post \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.washingtonpost.com\/archive\/politics\/1978\/06\/24\/army-killings-in-indian-village-shock-guatemala\/68281deb-fc2b-4cb7-9cb6-4554f8db0fb8\/\"\u003Ereported\u003C\/a\u003E at the time. It was prelude, as well, to more violence linked to Canadian mining interests.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003ECanadian mining, however, would not start digging in earnest in Central America for nearly two more decades. In the 1990s, the expansion of low-cost \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.mining.com\/heap-leach-minings-breakthrough-technology\/\"\u003Eopen-pit heap leach\u003C\/a\u003E industrial mining techniques, which raze landscapes and bathe mounds of earth in cyanide solution to separate precious metals, along with neoliberal economic policies that opened the door to increased foreign investment, enabled a surge of Canadian mining abroad, particularly in Latin America. While INCO abandoned operations in El Estor after a few years of operation, Canadian company Skye Resources acquired the Fenix mine project in 2004 and changed Exmibal\u2019s name to Compa\u00f1\u00eda Guatemalteca de N\u00edquel (CGN). Toronto-based HudBay Minerals acquired Skye in 2008, then sold Fenix to Cyprus-based Solway Investment Group in 2011. Despite years of controversy, the mine restarted operations in 2014. Meanwhile, in the first half of the 1990s the number of Canadian mining projects in Latin America \u201c\u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.tandfonline.com\/doi\/abs\/10.1080\/08263663.2015.1134498\"\u003Eexploded\u003C\/a\u003E,\u201d as researcher Daviken Studnicki-Gizbert has put it. As of 2017, the value of Canadian mining assets in Latin America and the Caribbean \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.nrcan.gc.ca\/our-natural-resources\/minerals-mining\/minerals-metals-facts\/minerals-and-economy\/20529\"\u003Eexceeded\u003C\/a\u003E assets on home soil. By January 2018, Canadian companies operated \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/mining.ca\/wp-content\/uploads\/2019\/03\/Facts-and-Figures-English-Web_0.pdf\"\u003E1,113 mineral projects\u003C\/a\u003E in Latin America.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003EA \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca\/all_papers\/273\/\"\u003Ereport\u003C\/a\u003E by the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP), a volunteer-run legal clinic affiliated with two Canadian law schools, documents 44 killings\u2014including 30 \u201ctargeted\u201d killings\u2014linked to Canadian mining companies in 11 Latin American countries between 2000 and 2015. Hundreds more were injured and criminalized in the same period. Guatemala suffered the highest death toll over those 15 years with 12 deaths connected to four Canadian mining projects, including one fatal shooting linked to INCO\u2019s successors at the Fenix nickel mine\u2014Angelica Choc\u2019s husband, Adolfo Ich Cham\u00e1n.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAnother five murdered victims were community members opposed to Vancouver-based Pacific Rim\u2019s El Dorado gold mine in El Salvador, where 12 years of persistent anti-mining activism secured a \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.reuters.com\/article\/us-el-salvador-mining-water-idUSKBN1762AG\"\u003Ehistoric ban on metals mining\u003C\/a\u003E in 2017. Before that victory, Pacific Rim\u2014acquired in 2013 by Australian-Canadian OceanaGold\u2014sued El Salvador in 2009 for infringing on its potential future profits by curtailing the El Dorado project. Though El Salvador ultimately won, the lawsuit underlined the challenges of reining in the industry under neoliberal free trade regimes that privilege corporate rights. Since the early 1990s, Canada has established a number of free trade agreements\u2014including a new deal with Honduras in the wake of the 2009 coup\u2014and bilateral Foreign Investment Protection Agreements in the region. Designed to boost foreign investment, FIPAs establish rights for corporations that critics argue undermine environmental and human rights protections\u2014another boon to mining interests. Although Canada does not have a FIPA or free trade agreement with Guatemala, conditions remain favorable as the country\u2019s \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.mem.gob.gt\/wp-content\/uploads\/2015\/06\/2._Reglamento_a_Ley_de_Mineria_Acuerdo_Gubernativo_176_2001.pdf\"\u003Emining code\u003C\/a\u003E mandates royalties of only one percent.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ECanadian Imperialism\u003C\/strong\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EGiven its role in the region, scholars Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber dub Canada a \u201csecondary imperial power.\u201d Focused largely on mining, their 2016 book \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/fernwoodpublishing.ca\/book\/blood-of-extraction\"\u003EBlood of Extraction\u003C\/a\u003E details how \u201cthe extraordinary violence and social injustice accompanying the activities of Canadian capital in Latin America are systematic features of Canadian imperialism in the twenty-first century.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EOne of the most poignant examples has been in post-coup Honduras, where Canada marshalled diplomats and development aid to craft favorable mining legislation after Ottawa joined Washington in legitimizing the 2009 military coup against president Manuel Zelaya. Gordon and Webber cite embassy communications obtained through freedom of information requests, such as one 2012 email stating that, for two years, the Canadian embassy had been \u201cworking actively with Honduran government to promote a modern, competitive, and transparent mining law.\u201d The new 2013 law reversed Zelaya\u2019s moratorium on new mining concessions, relaxed requirements for securing concessions, gagged access to information around mining projects, and enshrined tax loopholes.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFamily members of slain anti-mining Mexican activist Mariano Abarca, killed in 2010 while organizing against a Canadian-owned barite mine in Chiapas, are \u003Ca href=\"http:\/\/justice4mariano.net\/\"\u003Epushing\u003C\/a\u003E for an investigation into the Canadian embassy\u2019s role in putting his life at risk. \u201cThe Abarca case is symptomatic of some of the problems with Canadian diplomacy,\u201d Shin Imai, director of JCAP, told me by phone, noting that the embassy \u201cadvocated\u201d for Canadian mining company Blackfire amid a conflict with community members.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ECatering even more blatantly to mining interests, Ottawa has long refused to hold mining corporations accountable on home soil for abuses committed abroad. Instead, the industry has enjoyed a consequences-free self-regulatory environment under a model of voluntary corporate social responsibility. After years of prominent calls for new regulations, including from multiple United Nations bodies, in 2018 Ottawa \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.canada.ca\/en\/global-affairs\/news\/2018\/01\/the_government_ofcanadabringsleadershiptoresponsiblebusinesscond.html\"\u003Ecreated an ombuds office\u003C\/a\u003E, the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE), to address complaints. But not only has the much-awaited body been slow to get up and running, the government has also rendered it toothless, hollowing out its powers to investigate and to force mining companies to the table. The result is an ombudsperson \u201cat the mercy of mining companies,\u201d according to Imai. More than a dozen civil society groups \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/aboveground.ngo\/government-of-canada-turns-back-on-communities-harmed-by-canadian-mining-overseas-loses-trust-of-canadian-civil-society\/\"\u003Epulled support\u003C\/a\u003E for the office over disappointment in the changes.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EFor Grahame Russell, director of Rights Action\u2014a human rights organization that works closely with mining-affected communities in Honduras and Guatemala\u2014CORE was an inadequate solution from the start, due to what he sees as its weak regulatory framework and pro-business tilt. \u201cIts fundamental raison d\u2019etre is to promote good business,\u201d he told me by phone. \u201cA problem-solving mechanism shouldn\u2019t have as its mandate promoting good business.\u201d These limitations underline the importance of cases like Angelica Choc\u2019s against HudBay, which he believes are part of \u201ca slow shift.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EImai points out that such court cases, too, have limitations. Well-resourced mining companies maintain the the upper hand, and only the most egregious abuses are eligible to make a court case while everyday violations, such as inadequate community consultation, remain overlooked. \u201cIt\u2019s wrong to think that these court cases will create fear in the companies,\u201d he said, because the financial hit is small compared to their profits. \u201cThere\u2019s so little that can be done.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EWater vs. Mining Profits\u003C\/strong\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EIn another landmark case, community members of San Rafael Las Flores, the site of the Escobal silver mine, sued Vancouver-based Tahoe Resources in Canada over security personnel opening fire in 2013 on peaceful protesters. Last year, Pan American Silver, which acquired Tahoe months prior, \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/biv.com\/article\/2019\/07\/pan-american-closes-tahoes-six-year-legal-battle-guatemalan-protestors\"\u003Esettled with the plaintiffs\u003C\/a\u003E out of court. Though the conclusion of the case received scant media attention, it marked the first settlement in a case of this kind. The case also reaffirmed the precedent, set in the ongoing HudBay cases, of local courts\u2019 jurisdiction over abuses committed by Canadian companies abroad.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ETahoe\u2019s Escobal mine has also faced controversy over contamination, lack of consultation, and denial of the Indigenous identity of Xinka communities surrounding the mine. One of the plaintiffs in the settled case, Misael Martinez, told me while participating in a protest camp in Guatemala City in 2018: \u201cFor us, [the mine] is not development. It\u2019s death\u2026We want the mine to close definitively and stop operating because this is a company we can say is murderous. Because if it doesn\u2019t kill with bullets, it kills with contamination.\u201d On pause by court order since 2017 amid legal wrangling in Guatemala, the Escobal mine has vowed to restart.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EEven if companies definitively cease operations\u2014not just pass the baton to a successor, like INCO did\u2014the environmental toll left behind is staggering, and recourse for affected communities is nonexistent. Canadian company GoldCorp shut down the Marlin mine in San Miguel Ixtahuac\u00e1n in Guatemala\u2019s western highlands after violence, lack of consultation, and pollution had fueled calls for its closure. The victory for the community, however, was half-baked; the company pulled out without clean up or compensation for damages left behind, which included health problems related to contamination, presence of heavy metals, and impacts on agricultural production that farmers attribute to polluted and depleted water sources. The community surrounding GoldCorp\u2019s shuttered \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.theguardian.com\/environment\/2009\/dec\/31\/goldcorp-honduras-pollution-allegations\"\u003ESan Mart\u00edn gold mine\u003C\/a\u003E in Honduras\u2019s Siria Valley has faced similar challenges. Meanwhile, contamination from an operational\u2014and \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.theguardian.com\/environment\/2018\/may\/28\/honduran-villagers-take-legal-action-to-stop-mining-firm-digging-up-graves-for-gold\"\u003Eexpanding\u003C\/a\u003E\u2014open-pit gold mine in western Honduras, Canadian-listed Aura Minerals\u2019 San Andres mine, has also sparked health concerns among local residents.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAnti-mining activists resisting Tahoe\u2019s Escobal point to the Marlin mine as a sign of where they could be headed without a drastic change of course. \u201cLook how that community [San Miguel Ixtahuac\u00e1n] ended up after years of exploitation\u2014the water isn\u2019t even good to water the plants,\u201d Dr. Hugo Loy, the mayor of Mataquescuintla, which neighbors San Rafael, told me in 2018. \u201cOur brothers and sisters will end up the same way.\u201d Like in other areas surrounding the mine, producers in the coffee-growing area of Mataquescuintla say they have suffered water shortages as silver extraction guzzles resources.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EWater is an increasingly key concern in a region hard hit by climate change, underlining the need for stricter environmental regulations. In El Salvador, where water scarcity could make life impossible in \u003Ca href=\"https:\/\/www.efe.com\/efe\/america\/sociedad\/la-vida-en-el-salvador-sera-inviable-80-anos-por-crisis-de-agua-dice-un-estudio\/20000013-2923438\"\u003Ejust 80 years\u003C\/a\u003E, according to a study by the country\u2019s human rights ombuds office, outlawing metals mining marked a huge step, but regulatory challenges still loom. Since much of El Salvador\u2019s fresh water flows from Guatemala and Honduras, activists fear continued mining in neighboring countries\u2019 border regions\u2014like the Canadian-owned Cerro Blanco gold mine at Guatemala\u2019s border with El Salvador\u2014will further threaten the country\u2019s contaminated and increasingly depleted water sources. Despite public outcry in both Guatemala and El Salvador, Cerro Blanco, acquired by Vancouver-based Bluestone Resources from GoldCorp in 2017, is slated to start operating after a years-long hiatus.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERussell says these and other big questions underline the \u201cenormity\u201d of the problem and the need for an \u201cideological shift in Canadian politics\u201d to grapple with systemic root causes of mining abuses abroad. \u201cIt is the very economic model that is harming the environment, violating human rights, and leaving many people in poverty,\u201d he said. \u201cThat\u2019s the deeper change that\u2019s needed.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003ERetracting the claws of Canadian imperialism is no small task, but Russell believes the precedent-setting civil suits like Angelica Choc\u2019s finally taking Canadian companies to task after decades of abuses are a step in the right direction. \u201cA HudBay Minerals lawsuit lends itself to the short-term struggle for minimal accountability,\u201d he said. \u201cAnd it lends itself to the big picture struggle: What do the Maya Q\u2019eqchi people actually want for their communities?\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003EAs Angelica Choc put it: \u201cIf the companies that have come here\u2014palm oil and banana companies, hydroelectric and mining companies\u2014would do us the favor and leave, we would be left in peace in our lands.\u201d She stressed the community\u2019s resolve to stay put and their desire to heal the land and environment.\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp dir=\"ltr\"\u003E\u201cWe\u2019re not going to recover all we have lost,\u201d she added, \u201cbut we wish at least our children may be able to move forward.\u201d\u00a0\u003C\/p\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cbr\/\u003E\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cem\u003EHeather Gies is a writer and editor from Southern Ontario, Canada. Her reporting from Central America on politics, environmental issues, and human rights has appeared in Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Intercept, National Geographic, and other outlets. She previously covered Latin American news, including resource conflicts, as a writer and editor at teleSUR English, based in Ecuador. She is currently managing editor of the NACLA\u00a0Report.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003Cbr \/\u003E\u003Cbr \/\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E"}