Friday 22 March 2013

CEO Kevin McArthur says suggestions of possible Tahoe Resources complicity in murder of Guatemalan indigenous leader “a complete fabrication”

Approximate location of proposed mine site
In response to a query from La politica, Ira M. Gostin, Vice President Investor Relations for the Canadian silver mining company Tahoe Resources Inc., as well as CEO Kevin McArthur, have rejected any suggestion that the company or its subsidiary, Minera San Rafael (MSR), were involved in the murder earlier this week of the indigenous activist Exaltación Marcos Ucelo.

“Tahoe Resources along with its Guatemala operating company Minera San Rafael (MSR) emphatically reject and condemn criminal activities in our surrounding communities and in Guatemala at-large,” Mr. Gostin told La politica in an email.

“Tahoe and MSR are responsibly developing the Escobal project, and recent false accusations that the companies may have been involved in threats or violent actions are unfortunate. A recent kidnapping event occurred in a locale 15 km by road from our project site, in Jalapa state, with one fatality reported in the press.”

La politica is unaware of any news outlets, organizations, or individuals who have made accusations of a direct link between Tahoe Resources and/or MSR and the murder. However, La politica did ask Tahoe Resources if it was concerned about possible legal liability, and whether the company believed that the murder may have been related to its Escobal project.

At the time of his murder, Marcos Ucelo was returning home along with three colleagues after observing a community consultation process with regard to the development of the mine in the town of El Volcancito, near the proposed site and the larger town of San Rafael Las Flores.

According to umbrella NGO Congcoop, 99.2% of the community rejected the proposed mine during that consultation. The community consultation, regulated by the Guatemalan Municipal Code, is the third in a series of 26 planned in the area. However, the mayor of the larger community of San Rafael Las Flores has so far rejected the possibility of a referendum at the municipal level.

No one has been detained in connection with the murder and kidnapping of the three colleagues, all of whom are now free. There is also no clear motive. The four men were active in the Xinca indigenous community, but were present only as observers of the community consultation process.

According to Tahoe President and CEO Kevin McArthur, “The insinuation that our employees or contractors were somehow involved in the very unfortunate death of Marcos Ucelo is a complete fabrication.  We urge the authorities to fully investigate these criminal activities as well as the past attacks that have been made against our project.”

The company is still waiting on final permitting for the Escobal project, but has been investing in infrastructure and has made public statements suggesting it is confident production will begin in 2014.

Guatemala has one of the highest crime rates in the world, with the United States Bureau of consular Affairs stating that “violent crime is a serious concern due to endemic poverty, an abundance of weapons, a legacy of societal violence, and weak law enforcement and judicial systems.”

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

For a recent detailed report from La politica, see:

For another Canadian mining story, this time in Mexico, see:

And for a recent Guatemala story, see:

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
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1 comment:

  1. The evidence seems pretty clear that these are murders not an "Unfortunate Deaths".

    But hey, let the Nortes spin away.