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Celeste Gutierrez on resistance to mining in Guatemala and the need for remedy in Canada

Celeste Gutierrez will be in Fredericton on Wednesday, March 26th to provide a first hand account of the repression and violence that greets people in her community who are resisting the Canadian-owned Tahoe’s Escobal silver mine. Her talk will be begin at 6:00pm. Free pizza at 5:30pm!

Celeste will also be joined by Laura Fanjoy, a former Breaking the Silence Human Rights Accompanier in Guatemala, who will speak about opportunities with Human Rights Accompaniment in Guatemala, and Lisa Rankin, the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Co-Coordinator.

Celeste Gutierrez is a community organizer and member of CODIDENA, the Diocesan Committee in Defense of Nature from Santa Rosa. The group has been organizing in resistance to a silver mine, owned by Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources. Despite opposition, and violence, the mine has gone forward, and is now producing silver. Celeste will speak on CODIDENA’s work to educate the surrounding communities on the effects of mining projects, her experiences organizing community consultations in Santa Rosa, and the risks for human rights defenders in Guatemala.

Community leaders have been spent months in jail after being wrongfully targeted in the aftermath of violence connected with Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine in Guatemala. Meanwhile, the company’s former head of security, accused of ordering guards to open fire on protesters last April is first given house arrest and then allowed to avoid prison by arguing that he is sick? This is just one of the stark asymmetries in the current conflict between the Toronto-listed mining firm and communities in southeastern Guatemala, where repression and violence have been the outcome of efforts to install the project without social support.

A group of Guatemalans is touring Canada, making stops in the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and Vancouver. Their speaking engagements are linked to the Canadian Network for Corporate Accountability’s Open for Justice campaign. The campaign calls for legislated access to Canadian courts for people who have been harmed by the international operations of Canadian companies. It also calls for the creation of an extractive-sector Ombudsman office in Canada mandated to investigate accusations of abuses and make recommendations to the government and the companies involved.

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