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Canadian Mining Results in Death of Indigenous Farmer

VANCOUVER, BC - On January 11, 2005, an Indigenous farmer was killed for opposing Canada-US mining operations in Guatemala and another was seriously injured. As Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia and Canada, we demand that the Canadian government stop promoting Canadian corporations that undermine Indigenous rights in our traditional territories and abroad.

The farmer was killed in a confrontation with 2000 military and security forces sent to protect a convoy of mining equipment owned by Glamis Gold Limited.

Glamis Gold Limited houses its Canadian operations in Vancouver, BC. Under the previous Guatemalan administration, the corporation obtained exploration permits and invested $254 million in an open pit/underground site in San Marcos. Its Marlin project is expected extract 13.3 million tones of gold for the corporation over an 11-year period.

For over 40 days, Guatemalan citizens have protested and blockaded convoys on the Pan-American Highway carrying mining equipment into the western highlands. On January 8, the Minister of the Interior threatened to bring in troops to accompany the convoy. On January 10, he made that threat a reality, resulting in the confirmed death of one Indigenous farmer and many injuries.

Canadians and Indigenous peoples are united in speaking out against this crime, the militarization of trade, and the theft of Indigenous resources in Guatemala.

Tara Scurr, BC-Yukon Organizer for the Council of Canadians, stated: "As Canadians, we reject the position that resource exploitation, based on the Canadian model, is the key to peace and prosperity in Guatemala's post-war period. Canadians expect respect for human rights, not the facilitation of business deals that result in deaths and destruction of the environment for the benefit of myopic economic interests."

Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said today, "We demand that the Canadian government, through its embassy, in Guatemala repudiate the actions of the Guatemalan security forces and government in the harming and killing of citizens opposed to Glamis Gold Limited's Marlin Project. Glamis Gold should expect Indigenous peoples and concerned Canadians to come knocking on their door to demand a halt to this destructive and deadly operation in Guatemala."

Arthur Manuel, spokesperson for the Indigenous Network on Economies and Trade says: "As Indigenous peoples in Canada, we share the experience of our Mayan brothers and sisters. The government of Canada, like the government of Guatemala, refuses to recognize our Indigenous land rights. They use their economic and military might to push corporations into our traditional territories where they make huge profits, while Indigenous communities remain economically marginalized. We mourn with indigenous nations in Guatemala"

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Arthur Manuel, INET: 250.319.0688
Tara Scurr, Council of Canadians: 604-688.8846
Chief Stewart Phillip, UBCIC: 604.684.0231
Catherine Nolin, UNBC, Dept. of Geography: 250.960.5875

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