On Monday July 8, Guatemala’s Public Prosecutor, on behalf of the six victims and co-plaintiffs in the case, filed a formal accusation against Alberto Rotondo, former security manager for Minera San Rafael, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources. Rotondo was employed by the company when he allegedly ordered private security guards under his command to shoot at peaceful protesters outside the mine’s entrance on April 27 of this year. He has since been indicted on charges of assault causing serious and minor injuries and obstruction of justice.
Since the incident on April 27, Tahoe Resources has issued public statements that negate the existence of peaceful local opposition to the project and downplay the seriousness of the violence around the mine site and the charges against company employees.
NISGUA, together with our partners in Guatemala and Canada, want to help set the record straight. Here is a handful of Tahoe Myths to get started:
1. Only non-lethal force was used in April 27 attack against protesters (Tahoe press release, May 1 and Tahoe press release, July 10)
FACT – Spokespeople for Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City stated that lead bullets were removed from victims. Official documentation prepared by the national hospital of Cuilapa, where three victims were treated, also states that the injuries were caused by firearms. Victims testified to being shot with lead bullets, in addition to rubber bullets, and injuries sustained support that testimony.
2. Injured protesters taken to hospital and released (Tahoe press release May 1 and Tahoe press release July 10)
FACT – Of the six men seriously injured, one man was hospitalized for 16 days and will require facial re-constructive surgery. Two other men initially admitted and release at local hospitals were later re-hospitalized and held overnight.
3. Alberto Rotondo, Tahoe’s security manager, was detained but not charged with any crimes (Tahoe press release, May 1)
FACT – Security manager Alberto Rotondo was detained on April 30, and on May 7, he was charged with obstruction of justice and assault. In a June 4 press release, Tahoe CEO Kevin McArthur did not amend the May 1 statement, nor did he respond to the fact that Rotondo was under house arrest awaiting trial. Instead he stated in a separate interview that he could not comment on the investigation. It was not until July 10 that Tahoe Resources acknowledged the criminal charges filed against their former security manager.
Juan Pablo Oliva Trejo, Rotondo’s security advisor, employed by Tahoe, was also arrested, and on May 15 was charged with concealing evidence. He is also under house arrest awaiting trial.
4. There is widespread support for the Escobal project
FACT – There is widespread opposition to the project. 12 community consultations held since 2011 have rejected Tahoe’s project. The 8 most recent consultations were held in communities within the municipality of San Rafael las Flores. In each vote people have overwhelmingly rejected the project. The remaining 16 communities plan to have consultations as soon as possible. At least 200 legal objections to the project have been filed with the Ministry of Energy and Mines by individuals who stand to be directly impacted by the operations of the Escobal mine.
See our Top 10 Tahoe Myths for a full list of facts on the case against former Tahoe security manager.
For a time line of events see: Tahoe Resources’ Security Manager on Trial in Guatemala: Chronology of Events: April 27, 2013 – July 9, 2013
WHAT YOU CAN DO: