Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mobilizing for Goldcorp's 2012 Meeting of Shareholders

NISGUA, in coalition with our Guatemalan and international partners, prepared  actions, events and materials for Goldcorp's Annual General Meeting of shareholders held on April 26, 2012 in northern Ontario.  Alfonso Jiménez Morales participated in events as a representative of the Departmental Assembly of Huehuetenango (ADH), which some of you will remember as the organization invited to participate in NISGUA's 2010 U.S. tour.

The week kicked off with the Amnesty International "We are all Shareholders" event with speakers from the CAMIGUA coalition and international Skype calls with mine-affected community members in Guatemala.

Participants in Amnesty's event sign a banner in
solidarity with mine-affected peoples in Guatemala.
From Canada to Panama, communities unite
to defend our rights! Photo: Graham Hunt
Goldcorp chose the area of Timmins, celebrating its 100 years as a mining town, as the location for this year's meeting.  Although difficult to reach, the location provided unique opportunities for exchange and information-sharing between Canadians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and U.S. citizens.

A mill used in the processing of Gold ore, situated in
urban Timmins.  Photo: Amanda Kistler
NISGUA and partners met with unionists, human rights organizations, and First Nations leaders from mine-affected areas in Canada.

CAMIGUA members and partners meet with Shawn Batise,
Executive Director of the Wabun Tribal Council. 
Photo: Graham Hunt
Representatives from Guatemala and Honduras meet with
Chief Walter Naveau of the Mattagami First Nation
and other First Nations representatives from the
Timmins area, along with Lyndsay Mollins Koene,
from the Mennonite Central Committee.
Photo: Amanda Kistler
Among other meetings, the meeting with the steelworkers' union particularly impacted NISGUA, as the unionists expressed their solidarity with Central Americans and shared their own experiences with lay-offs after a nearby operation moved its mill to cut costs. 

A tour of the area also provided fascinating examples of mining's effects on the landscape.

Alfonso stands by a lake that was literally moved
to make way for mining operations.
Photo: Graham Hunt

From the car, visitors observe the "mountains" of dirt piled
high after the company invested millions of dollars in a
"super pit" that was later abandoned due to the low
concentration of metals found.
Photo: Graham Hunt

In Toronto, local groups organized creative protests, while inside Goldcorp's shareholder meeting, two representatives from Honduras and Alfonso directly addressed Goldcorp's shareholders with questions about community consultation rights and closure plans. 

Carlos Amador and Reina Gamero from the
Siria Valley Environmental Committee with
Alfonso Jíménez Morales from the ADH.
The three delegates from Central America were featured in a front page news article in the local newspaper.  Reading that edition, all were also struck by an article on the "off the chart" local rates of homelessness.  As Alfonso later reflected, "500 years we have suffered and they continue to try to fool us.  No longer with invasions, but by stealing our gold...In spite of 100 years of gold mining in Timmins, families still live in the street.  What kind of development are they talking about?"

Leading up to the April events, thousands of people participated in an action to support a shareholder resolution that would have ensured adequate funding and transparency for a responsible Marlin mine closure plan.  Among other points, the resolution called upon the company to guarantee public disclosure of plans, to consult with affected communities and to post of a $49 million surety bond to the Guatemalan government to guarantee availability of closure funds in the event of an unanticipated withdrawal.

The resolution was not approved.  Following the meeting, Goldcorp committed to publishing closure plans for all its operations, to consulting with the local population, to working with national authorities to define a surety bond and to reclaiming mine sites.  The company's commitments remain vague, however, and follow-up actions will be crucial in holding Goldcorp accountable.

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Thanks to all of our Guatemalan counterpart organizations and other members of the CAMIGUA coalition (Amnesty International Canada, Breaking the Silence, Center for International Environmental Law, MiningWatch Canada and many more) for co-coordinating this year's actions and events.

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