In Memory of the life of Adolfo Ich Chaman

Date of publication: 
27 September 2014

On September 27, 2009 Indigenous leader Adolfo Ich Chaman was killed in his community of El Estor, Guatemala, allegedly by security forces of HudBay Minerals, a Canadian mining company. Adolfo was a respected Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader, a school teacher and a father of six. He was an outspoken critic of the harms caused by Canadian mining activities in his community, a struggle which goes back decades and is interwoven with a brutal civil war, widespread repression particularly against Indigenous peoples, and government corruption.

Today, five years later, KAIROS joins his family, his community and human rights and solidarity groups in Guatemala and in Canada in commemorating Adolfo Ich’s life and demanding justice. Angelica Choc, Adolfo’s wife, has called on all of us to join them in solidarity: “Let all of us who are fighting in defense of our territories unite to demand that justice be served”.

In the five years since Adolfo’s violent death, victims, witnesses, and family members have struggled through a long and frustrating series of legal processes – in Canada and Guatemala – in order to achieve justice. Angelica Choc is making legal history by bringing her husband’s case to Canadian courts. In fact, their case is setting precedents by being the first lawsuit against a mining company over human rights allegations abroad to be heard in Canadian courts.

Last November, KAIROS helped lead a Study Tour to Guatemala which travelled to El Estor. Tour members met with Adolfo’s widow, Angelica , and others in the community, and were challenged to do something with their testimonies : “Do not leave our words in your note books,” Angelica pleaded.

The Open for Justice Campaign is an effort to act on these words. The campaign is pressing for federal legislation that would allow plaintiffs like Angelica who believe they have been harmed by a Canadian mining company access to courts in Canada; to the same justice we have in Canada. Among other things, this legislation would mean that Angelica Choc and others like her would not have to fight to have their cases heard in Canada.

As we remember Adolf Ich we also recognize the urgency for justice. Communities impacted by Canadian mining companies should not have to struggle to have their cases heard in Canada. The Open for Justice Campaign is an important step on the road to justice.


Five years after the murder of Adolfo Ich

27 September 2014

The Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network and the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network wish to express our support and solidarity to the family and friends of Adolfo Ich Chamán who was killed on September 27th, 2009, when security for the Fenix mining project opened fire on community members near El Estor, Guatemala. We also express our support and solidarity to the family and friends of others who were wounded in the shooting, including German Chub who continues to live with grave medical problems as a result of his injuries that day.

As people gather together to remember Adolfo and to demand justice for his murder and the violence that took place on this date five years ago, we want you to know that we continue to stand in solidarity with you. We denounce the murder of Adolfo Ich as a targeted act of violence against a respected Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader and an outspoken critic of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by corporate mining activities. We denounce the injuries of the others who were wounded on that day as violent repression of the right to defend your land and communities. We demand that justice be served for these attacks, and we demand an end to continued violence, threats, and intimidation against your communities.

It is our belief that Hudbay Minerals, a Canadian mining company, was responsible for the violence that took place on this day five years ago. The mine security personnel who carried out the shootings had been hired by CGN, the local subsidiary of Hudbay Minerals, whose headquarters are in Toronto, Canada. Mynor Padilla, then head of security for CGN, stands accused of murder for his part in the violence. We recognize that this was but one incident in a long history of violence perpetrated by those who want to evict you from your land in order to exploit it and that the violence and the threats against your community, friends and family continue to this day. We are committed to continuing to stand with you today, tomorrow, and in the struggles to come. We also commit to continuing in the struggle to hold Canadian mining companies, including Hudbay Minerals, accountable for their actions. In solidarity with the commemoration events being held in El Estor, we are also holding events here in Canada, including in front of HudBay’s corporate headquarters in Toronto.

We also stand in solidarity alongside other communities that continue the fight to defend their land, communities, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples and that take daily risks to their security as they courageously confront the ongoing violence carried out by greedy imperialist extraction companies and their security forces both in Guatemala and on Turtle Island.

This is a long and difficult struggle for justice, towards the reclaiming of territory, towards safety, peace and self-determination.

In remembrance of Adolfo and all those who have become martyrs for their communities, and with admiration and respect for the strength and dignity of all who participate in any way they can in this important struggle, we send our love and a firm commitment to solidarity and ongoing support.

Adolfo Ich Chamán, presente en la lucha.