Representatives from San Miguel Travel to Canada in Search of Justice

As part of an international campaign in solidarity with the communities affected by the Marlin mine and for the defense of human rights, Maudilia Lopez and Carmen Mejia of the FREDEMI coalition traveled to Canada in December of 2009. The tour was coordinated by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) a Washington DC-based human rights and environmental organization, with the support of various other human rights and solidarity groups from Canada and the U.S.

Complaint against Goldcorp Inc: The main objective of the trip was to present a complaint against the company Goldcorp to Canada’s National Contact Point to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). Canada is a member of the OECD, although Guatemala is not, and therefore Canadian corporations are subject to review under the OECD’s guidelines for multinational enterprises. These guidelines state that Canadian companies must adhere to the human rights obligations of the host countries where they operate. In this case, the complaint was brought against Goldcorp for not adhering to the Guatemalan government’s obligation to respect communities’ right to free prior and informed consent, as well as other standards such as the right to land, health, and a clean environment.

While the National Contact Point of Canada holds no binding power over the company, the complaint falls within a context of broader campaign work and efforts to pressure Goldcorp to respect community rights. For this reason, FREDEMI representatives took advantage of their time in Ottawa and Montreal to meet with different organizations, including the student group OPIRG at the University of Ottawa, where Goldcorp board of directors chairman and ex-CEO Ian Telfer has invested around $25 million dollars in the business school. Another highlight of the tour was a meeting with Chief Shawn Atleo of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations regarding Goldcorp, the Marlin mine, and the situation of indigenous peoples across the hemisphere.

A radio interview from the tour can be heard online here: http://education-in-action.squarespace.com/storage/1001-PuntoDeEncuentro_MayanMams.mp3

The Quest for Accountability in Canada: Many Canadians know that their mining industry is harming communities around the world. Unfortunately, corporations are able to enjoy a climate of low regulation in Canada, and there are few mechanisms to hold Canadian companies accountable for their operations abroad. While the U.S. has the Alien Tort Claims Act, similar legislation does not exist in Canada, which has allowed mining companies to operate with impunity. Because of this, organizations in Canada have made a major push for Bill C-300, a piece of legislature proposed by MP John McKay that would increase accountability mechanisms for the Canadian extractives industry. As the bill is expected to come to a vote in March, Canadian and U.S. organizations continue to work with communities around the Marlin mine to denounce the actions of Goldcorp, and address corporate impunity in our own countries.

More information on Bill C-300 can be found here: http://www.miningwatch.ca/en/bill-c-300-corporate-accountability-activities-mining-oil-or-gas-corporations-developing-countries

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