Guatemala: Indigenous Xinca community accuses Pan American Silver of using the pandemic to collect signatures of those who accepted company donations; includes company response

In mining company Pan American Silver´s AGM, members of the Xinca community who have been impacted by the Escobal mine, confronted the company with regards to human rights violations they have suffered throughout the past years (see more information and previous company responses here), as well as accusing the company of collecting signatures and ID numbers of community members who accepted donations in the current Covid-19 pandemic.  

The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre contacted the company for a response to these allegations; the response can be found below.

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Company response
15 May 2020

Pan American Silver response

Author: Pan American Silver

...In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government of Guatemala issued a State of Calamity decree on March 5, 2020, which has been extended to June 5, 2020. The decree closed the country’s international borders and imposed restriction of movement within the country. Similarly, other governments in Pan American’s operating jurisdictions have imposed national quarantines and other measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These restrictions have led to significant disruptions to food and medical supplies, causing hardship across the country and in many communities near the Escobal Project. Pan American has received many requests for support, and we are responding with donations of food, sanitary and medical supplies for all our local communities, including those within Guatemala. This humanitarian aid is provided without condition, including no intention to use acceptance of this aid as an indication of community support for the Escobal mine...

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Article
6 May 2020

Xinka people of Guatemala and thousands of international supporters demand answers from Pan American Silver

Author: Earthworks

...The peaceful resistance to the Escobal mine is asking...why Pan American, after saying it is different than Tahoe Resources, is using the same tactics—like taking advantage of moments of crisis, such as COVID-19—to collect signatures and ID numbers from local community members who receive company donations. Will this information be used later to suggest Pan American has support for the mine?

The Escobal mine has been suspended for nearly three years as a result of community direct action and a Guatemalan Constitutional Court decision, which found that the Ministry of Energy and Mines discriminated against the Xinka people when it authorized permits for the mine. The court ordered the company to halt all activities while the government consults with the Xinka in accordance with international standards. To date, the consultation process has been fraught with irregularities and excluded the Xinka people from fully participating based on their customs and traditions.

“COVID-19 isn’t the only health crisis we’re facing. For a decade, communities surrounding the Escobal mine have fought to protect their health from mining activities. Guatemalan courts ordered Pan American Silver to suspend its operations during the consultation and this includes community outreach, which gives rise to tension and conflict. Pan American Silver should tell its employees to stay home and stop trying to buy support for the mine during this significant health crisis,” comments Luis Fernando García Monroy on behalf of the Xinka Parliament...

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