Commentary  Unethical mining operations


McGill has been given the opportunity to host Guatemalan journalist Luis Solano, who has recently returned from the Escobal mine in Guatemala, which is owned and operated by the Canadian mining corporation Tahoe Resources. Solano’s findings indicate that Tahoe Resources has assisted in the criminalization of local land defenders, leading to the militarization of the region. This has resulted in violent clashes between locals, Tahoe employees, and Guatemalan security forces.

The Guatemalan government and Tahoe Resources have cooperated to disrupt peaceful protests against the seizure of local land. They have placed greater emphasis on profit than on the voices of citizens. The operation has been pushed by Tahoe Resources and the Guatemalan government, with tacit support from the Canadian embassy. Norway’s Council of Ethics deemed the operation an affront to human rights, recommending against investment in the Canadian company. This suggests that the Escobal mine rests upon an unethical foundation, one that we as students must recognize.

Despite the recommendation by the Norwegian Council of Ethics, McGill has invested an undisclosed amount in Tahoe Resources. This investment connects the university to the company’s actions, which include the shooting of local protesters by security guards. This is a connection many students are unaware of, but should acknowledge. Solano’s findings demonstrate the increasingly common criminalization of Latin American communities by their own governments for protesting against Canadian mining operations. Solano’s presentation will give students the opportunity to recognise the connection between Tahoe’s unethical operations and McGill’s financial investments.

Luis Solano will present on November 12 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Otto Maass 112. The presentation will be followed by a broader discussion with Indigenous activists on the criminalization of environmental activism in Canada and the implications of Bill C-51.

—Christian Holmes, U3 student and member of the McGill Research Group Investigating Canadian Mining in Latin America (MICLA)