By Jen Moore | Mining Watch Canada | July 19, 2017

Following the suspension of two of Tahoe Resources’ mine licences in Guatemala on July 5, Tahoe Resources’ suppliers, workers and the Guatemalan Industrial Association have engaged in a smear campaign in the Guatemalan press against the Centre for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS) and its members for having brought the claim against the Ministry of Energy and Mines that led to the decision. The defamation puts CALAS and its members at risk of further violence.

On Wednesday July 5, the Guatemalan Supreme Court of Justice announced that it was temporarily suspending two of Tahoe Resources’ mining licences until a suit against the Ministry of Energy and Mines is resolved for discrimination and lack of prior consultation with Indigenous Xinka communities in the area of the company’s Escobal silver mine. Tahoe has consistently denied the presence of Xinka communities in the immediate area of influence of the Escobal project and failed to report on the strength of opposition of both the Xinka and non-indigenous communities affected by its mining operations.

During a Tahoe conference call on Thursday July 6, one investor analyst asked the company if it, its employees, its supplies or anyone connected to the company might have status in Guatemala to bring a lawsuit against CALAS, its members or any members of the Xinka community. In response, President and CEO Ron Clayton stated that its suppliers were already preparing to bring a lawsuit to try to appeal the decision and that: “Our suppliers, vendors, contractors and employees are all aggressively involved in fighting this.” As announced in the conference call, on Monday July 9, representatives of suppliers presented a legal action to try to revoke the mine suspension.

The Guatemalan Industrial Association (CACIF) has since published a full page ad in national press accusing CALAS of fomenting conflict in the communities around the Escobal project and of not being representative of the Xinka Indigenous people. Suppliers and workers also spoke to the press, accusing CALAS members of violating their rights and spreading lies in the communities. Notably, CALAS has been the subject of regular attacks for its work in defence of collective rights and the environment, including the murder of 22 year-old Jeremy Abraham Barrios Lima, assistant to the Director of CALAS in November 2016, and a 2008 armed attack against Director Yuri Melini.

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