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Documents filed in affidavit against Hudbay Minerals in the 'Lote Ocho' case show how collusion between business and state works

"Evicting Lote Ocho: How a Canadian Mining Company Infiltrated the Guatemalan State", 26 September 2020.

...Ich remembers these helicopter flyovers taking place daily, sometimes even twice daily, beginning around the end of 2006 and continuing until 2008. Ich, who is now 35, told The Intercept that she would run into her hut, terrified that she and the other villagers were about to be forcibly expelled from their land by Compañía Guatemalteca de Niquel, or CGN: a Guatemalan mining company with which Lote Ocho and at least 18 other Indigenous communities had been embroiled in a dispute over land since early 2005....

The flyovers above Lote Ocho were revealed in previously private corporate documents that have become public through a lawsuit in Canada. These documents, largely unreported on until now, show that the harassment by helicopter was just one part of a much larger campaign that Skye and CGN undertook to expel Indigenous communities from a huge swath of land that the companies never had any legal right to either explore or exploit. The effort relied on mostly successful attempts to influence, manipulate, or pay the most powerful institutions of the Guatemalan state, including the judiciary, the security forces — and even the presidency. The campaign culminated in two waves of evictions targeting several Indigenous villages on January 8, 9, and 17, 2007. Eleven women from Lote Ocho were allegedly gang-raped by police officers, soldiers, and CGN’s security during the last eviction. Ich is one of those women...

Hudbay has not yet formally responded to the affidavit, and the company declined to comment to The Intercept because the “matter in question is currently before the courts.” CGN did not respond to multiple requests for comment and written questions...

“Any attempt to forcibly evict the villagers would end in tragedy,” Vogt, the priest, emailed Skye management on September 22, 2006. Just three days before the evictions, CGN’s own consultant emailed a company manager: “As we have already said, there will NEVER be a positive eviction.”

Even though Skye management stated that the “invasions” were not affecting operations, primarily because most of them were “not on essential project land,” Skye decided that if the villagers would not leave on their own, Skye and CGN would force them off...According to emails filed in court, CGN managers called their “contacts” at the Policía Nacional Civil, Guatemala’s national police, to see if the PNC could conduct the evictions ahead of schedule, before the amparo could be granted...

The emails show that Skye and CGN had woven themselves into a network of informal connections that they drew on while attempting to influence government officials. This illustrates how “collusion between business and the state” works in Guatemala, University of Oslo professor Mariel Aguilar-Støen told The Intercept. Aguilar-Støen co-authored a 2016 article that examined how local elites often participate in mining projects by, for example, working as company managers or lawyers, allowing the companies to exploit “the networks of contacts that the domestic elites control,” the article states. The way CGN leveraged its connections “is a very good example of how mining companies in particular operate and how they gain access to resources,” she said...

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