Seven indigenous Guatemalan protestors have filed a civil lawsuit against Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources for violence inflicted on them last year near the Tahoe-owned Escobal mine in San Rafael las Flores, Guatemala.
The lawsuit alleges that Tahoe violated its commitment to operate under principles of corporate social responsibility to respect human rights. The lawsuit also alleges that Tahoe had a duty to make sure that its Guatemalan employees and contractors abided by those principles—a duty that was abandoned when security guards at the Escobal mine opened fire on local villagers protesting the silver mining project in April 2013.
This lawsuit sets a precedent in British Columbia (a province of Canada) for accountability regarding corporate responsibility. It also constitutes a chance to bring visibility to the ongoing opposition to mining operations in Guatemala. Mayan Q’eqchi’ communities—particularly women—have long resisted mining operations in Guatemala.
This is not the first time that a Canadian mining company has been sued for events occurring at their mines outside of Canada. Last year Hudbay Minerals faced three lawsuits in an Ontario Superior Court, related to alleged human rights abuses at their Guatemalan mine. The suits are the result of non-governmental organizations demanding greater accountability from Canadian mining companies operating abroad.