Judge orders police to bring Tahoe Resources chairman Kevin McArthur to court

Date of publication: 
8 May 2015

The Guatemalan national police director has been instructed by a judge to bring Tahoe Resources founder and executive chairman Kevin McArthur to court on May 13 to testify about the criminalization of community leaders opposing the company’s Escobal silver mine.

A Guatemalan judge has instructed the director of the national police force to bring Tahoe Resources founder and executive chairman Kevin McArthur to court this month.

The court order, dated April 28, instructs the police to bring McArthur and Donald Paul Gray to court at 10am on May 13 so that they may testify in the trial of a prominent anti-mining community leader.

Prior to this year’s merger of Tahoe Resources and Rio Alto Mining, McArthur was the CEO of Tahoe Resources and Gray its Vice President of Operations. Before coming out of retirement to found Tahoe Resources, McArthur was the CEO Goldcorp for two years after its 2006 acquisition of Glamis Gold, of which he was the CEO for 18 years.

A Canadian transnational mining corporation, Tahoe Resources owns the Escobal silver mine in southeastern Guatemala. The project, which began production last year, has faced fierce resistance in the area, and mining opponents have suffered repression and criminalization.

Violence against communities organizing against the Escobal mine has included attacks against protesters and murders of local activists. A state of siege was declared in the region in May 2013. Alberto Rotondo, the former head of security at the Tahoe Resources mine site, faces trial for ordering the company’s security guards to open fire on protesters in April 2013. Seven victims filed a civil lawsuit against Tahoe Resources in Vancouver last year.

Over the past few years, dozens of community leaders and members opposing the Escobal project have been targeted with spurious criminal charges, and many cases have been thrown out for lack of evidence.

Oscar Morales García, the outspoken coordinator of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace of San Rafael Las Flores, has been charged more than once. He is currently faced with a charge of uttering threats against Camilo Medina Mazariegos, Manager of External Relations for Minera San Rafael, a Guatemalan subsidiary of Tahoe Resources.

Morales García made a request to the Office of the Public Prosecutor in October 2014 for McArthur to “testify to the policy of criminalization that Minera San Rafael has been carrying out against community leaders in resistance to the imposition of the Escobal mining project in the muncipality of San Rafael Las Flores, Santa Rosa.”

McArthur was issued summons to testify at an October 21 hearing. This time, the judge ordered the national police director to ensure McArthur complies.

The Guatemalan court order was circulated by the Center for Environmental, Social and Legal Action (CALAS) on the eve of Tahoe Resources’ annual shareholder’s meeting.

The company’s Annual General Meeting of Shareholders is scheduled for 9:30am PDT on May 8 at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia in Vancouver.

The Mining Justice Alliance, a Vancouver-based coalition of community groups, activists and students, has called for a gathering outside the hotel at 9am to communicate a message from communities in Guatemala and call on Tahoe investors to drop their shares.