On January 8th and 9th 2007, five indigenous Mayan Q'eqchi' communities were violently evicted from their ancestral lands near El Estor, Guatemala, at the best of Canadian mining company Skye Resources (since purchased by Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals). The mining company paid workers a nominal sum to destroy people's homes. With the force of the army and police, company workers took chainsaws and torches to people's homes, while women and children stood by. The mining company claimed that they maintained "a peaceful atmosphere during this action."
The mining company claims ownership of the land, but locals dispute that, saying that it was illegally taken from them in 1965 by the military dictatorship ruling the country at the time, which granted the land to Canadian mining company INCO, then killed, disappeared and forcibly displaced the local Mayan Q'eqchi' population to clear the way for INCO's activities. Skye acquired its claimed rights to the land from INCO in 2004. In the fall of 2006, descendants of those who were displaced in the 1960s and 70s returned to inhabit areas that were sitting idle, seeking a small plot of land to live and grow food to sustain themselves and their families. They say that the land is rightfully theirs, and they have nowhere else to go.
Watch a 10 minute video of the illegal evictions:
See James Rodriguez's photo-essays on the region.
Shortly after this video was posted and began circulating online, Canada's ambassador to Guatemala, Kenneth Cook, spread misinforming about the video, suggesting that it lacks credibility. He informed people that the Mayan Q'eqchi' woman at the center of the video is actually an actress who had been paid to "perform" in this manner, and that the photos shown are actually old images from the Guatemalan civil conclift of many years ago.
On February 28, 2007,
various parties -- Rights Action included -- sent a public letter to
various politicians and members of the media calling for an investigation
into the ambassador's conduct.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) also called
for an investigation.
Listen to the segment:
Listen to the segment:
LAWSUIT AGAINST CANADIAN AMBASSADOR TO GUATEMALA AND GOVERNMENT OF CANADA
After both Ambassador Cook and the Government of Canada refused to
respond to requests for an explanation and apology regarding the ambassador's
false statements, the filmmaker decided that a defamation lawsuit against
both parties was a necessary and more effective way to defend both his
film and the voices of the indigenous Mayan Q'eqchi' that Canada has
April 17, 2010 - CTV's W5 episode,
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