|RECENT KILLINGS LINKED TO CANADIAN-OWNED NICKEL MINE IN GUATEMALA|
|Written by Dawn Paley|
|Thursday, 01 October 2009|
|Source: The Dominion
Two Qeqchi leaders were shot and killed and over a dozen wounded this week near the site of a shuttered nickel mine in Guatemala.
The first shooting took place on Sunday, September 27 on land claimed by the community of Las Nubes, which Compañia Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN), a subsidiary of Manitoba’s HudBay Minerals, also claims to own.
Early reports indicated CGN’s private security guards opened fire while attempting to remove families from their land. Adolfo Ichi Chamán, a teacher and community leader, was killed by gunshot, at least eight more wounded by bullets fired from an AK-47.
Prensa Libre, Guatemala’s leading newspaper, reported that during Chamán’s funeral service yesterday, thousands of people marched through the streets of El Estor, demanding that the company and the local police chief withdraw from the area within 24 hours.
HudBay released a lengthy statement yesterday claiming that there were no evictions, but instead that “protestors” went on a rampage, attacking government vehicles, a local police station (where they allegedly stole automatic weapons), destroying a hospital built by a coalition of US NGOs, and wounding five employees.
Hudbay goes on to make the absurd claim that the protesters proceeded to open fire on each other.
One day after the murder of Chamán, men armed with machine guns opened fire on a mini-bus carrying Indigenous educators and leaders from the El Estor region to Cobán. One man, Martin Choc, was killed, and at least nine more wounded.
These killings are a flare up in a tense area, where the track record of Canadian mining companies includes forced displacement over multiple generations, co-operation with the army, and the burning of homes belonging to Indigenous people.
Shortly after a series of violent evictions that took place on nearby lands in 2007, Skye Resources (later acquired by Hudbay) representatives went on the record and lied through their teeth to defend their actions.
The English-language corporate media has repeatedly turned a blind eye to recent and past events unfolding in El Estor. This kind of reporting facilitates corporate lies and deceit, plain and simple.
Lies and deceit are just what HudBay needs, not only to avoid an international outcry over the recent killings, but also to spin a mining project that is not likely to produce any nickel at all.
In this edition of Weekend Update, Russell Means speaks to the racist portrayals of Indians by Hollywood, the U.S. Government and the media of the left. He speaks as well to the soft racism of exclusion that too often ignores the Indigenous communites of the world and their concerns of their land and their people.
On December 22, 1997 paramilitary (state-trained and state-funded pro-governing party civil defense) forces surrounded a Catholic chapel in the pacifistTsotsil Mayan community of Acteal, Chiapas state, Mexico. During a period of several hours, this armed force, with the apparent consent of local Mexican Army units stationed not far away, proceeded to surround Acteal’s chapel, and shot to death those inside, and as many of those who escaped as they could find. A number of residents survived the massacre. Those murdered on that day included 15 children, 21 women (four of them pregnant) and 9 men.
On June 6, 2009, Police, supplied by the U.S. ‘War Against Drugs, shot dead more than 38 people. The government of Peru ordered for the National Police to attack the Amazonian Indigenous peoples. Civilians were shot from building roofs and helicopters.
Indigenous peoples in Peru were on strike for the previous 52 days protesting against free trade policies that would allow multinationals to take over their territories. The attack occurred around 5:00 AM in the morning, a day after the Congress of Peru decided not to debate one of the most important decrees that allow the sale of Indigenous land. The number of casualities is according to a Twetter sent by a Peruvian journalist who is in the area of Bagua, a city located in the Amazonas region of Peru.
In the first week of February, according to indigenous witnesses, Columbian FARC rebels massacred up to 27 Awa people in the southern Narino province, including women and young children (from ages 3 to 6), bringing the total number of murdered Native people to 50 since the national march in the fall.
FARC press statements have only acknowledged the “execution” of eight indigenous due to their alleged assistance of Columbian military, but witnesses deny that figure and the assertion that the Awa willingly assisted anyone.
The National Indigenous Organization of Columbia, ONIC and regional UNIPA, Indigenous Unity of the Awa People, issued a joint statement the week after the massacre, decrying the murders.
“The UNIPA and ONIC denounce the grave violation of human rights and the collective rights of the Awa people of Narino, which is nothing new. … in the last 10 years [in the AWA territory] there have been four massacres, approximately 200 murders and 50 people affected by antipersonnel mines (land mines). … and now 1,300 Awa people are trapped in the area due to confrontations between the army, the guerillas and the para-militaries.”
Guatemalan Civil War:
In its final report, the Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH- Guatemalan Truth Commission) concluded that army massacres had destroyed 626 villages, more than 200,000 people were killed or disappeared, 1.5 million were displaced by the violence, and more than 150,000 were driven to seek refuge in Mexico. Further, the Commission found the state (funded largely by the United States) responsible for ninety-three percent of the acts of violence and the guerrillas (URNG-Guatemalan Revolutionary Union) responsible for three percent. All told, eighty-three percent of the victims were Maya and seventeen percent were ladino.