Vigil in Toronto for 3 Murdered Opponents to Canadian Mining

Dec 26, 2009

Vigil in Toronto for 3 Murdered Opponents to Canadian Mining

 Around 25 people braved the bitter winds of the Toronto’s financial district on Friday in a vigil to protest the killings of three human rights advocates who were killed for speaking out against the unethical practices of Canadian mining companies in Latin America.  Mariano Abarca Roblero of Mexico, Adolfo Ich Xaman of Guatemala, and Marcelo Rivera of El Salvador were all murdered for speaking out against mining practices that displace indigenous people and campesinos, poison rivers, and destroy both agriculture and human health.  The three companies that benefit from the silencing of thier critics-  HudBay and Pacific Rim listed on the Toronto Stock exchange.  In the case of Blackfire, three people connected to the company have been arrested in Mexico regarding the murder of Mariano Abarca.  Organizations involved in the protest included Community Solidarity Response Toronto and Amnesty International Toronto’s Business and Human Rights group.

The vigil was held in solidarity with protests Friday in Mexico, where according to the Toronto Star over 1,500 people marched in Frontera Comalapa, Chiapas. Gustavo Castro, a friend of Mariano’s, was quoted as saying “This wasn’t exclusively a protest against Blackfire but against the criminalization of social protest, and violence, and Mariano’s case is an example of this.”  ( Mariano Abarca Roblero was known in Mexico for his work in promotion of community development and the environmental, and in opposition to health and environmental harms and human rights violations caused by mining. Mariano was shot by a masked man on a motorcycle on Nov. 27th. Three men linked to Blackfire, including an employee, have been arrested in connection with this crime. Now reports have surfaced in the mainstream press that Blackfire admits to having paid bribes (they call it extortion) to mayor of Chicomuselo, where Blackfire operates its barite mine., for the purposes of “to prevent locals from vandalizing and protesting against its mine.”

Adolfo Ich Xaman, a schoolteacher and leader in his Maya Q’eqchi’ community, was taken off by security guards on Sept 27th during illegal evictions when he went to see if any children were being left behind.  According the information available, the head of CGN security saw him and called him over to talk to him. When he reached the security guards, he was beaten and attacked with a machete and afterwards dragged onto company property, where he was shot and murdered by CGN’s guards.  Ich, and local Mayan-Qeqchi villagers, have long been resisting the harms and forced evictions  caused by Canadian nickel mining companies. The first wave of evictions, killings and repression occurred in the 1970s, early 1980s- repression of protests related to the INCO concessions in the area. Evictions and repression began again in 2006 (by Skye Resources),through to today. No justice has been done for any of the earlier killings and abuses, nor in Adolfo’s case.  HudBay Minerals denies any responsibility and continues with efforts to “relocate” potentially thousands of Mayan-Qeqchi villagers, living on these lands since long before the nickel miners (INCO) arrived in the 1960s. Like in the other Central American countries, this struggle is facing severe repression. (see James Rodríguez at

In neighboring El Salvador, Marcelo Rivera was disappeared on June 18th, a terror tactic reminicent of the civil wars of the 80s.  His body was found in a 60-foot deep well with clear signs of torture.  Marcelo Rivera had been very active in the movement to stop metal mining in El Salvador, espeically by the company Pacific Rim.  El Salvador is a very small country with a severe shortage of water- mining low-grade ores is very water intensive and also uses large amounts of cyanide.  After the death of Marcelo representatives in the movement against mining in El Salvador visited Canada to raise awarenss here, including William Castillo, “the benefits[of mining] are very poor compared to the costs that the entire country we will bear…Its too risky, to have metal exploration in this country. It doesn’t matter what they pay the risks are too high” (

According to a representative from Community Solidarity Response Toronto, the reason to protest at the Toronto stock exhange is that: “There are no human rights requirements to be listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, reporting requirments yes, but actual regulations on human rights do not exist. The TSX itself is being sued as one of the plaintiffs regarding illegal actions at a prospective mine in Ecuador, where security guards shot at peaceful protesters including women and babies.”

Protesters chanted “mining companies deadly game- murder for profit that’s a shame”.    Susana Caxaj, of CSRT, said “I think a lot of Canadians have been deceived and lied to. We want to believe that our government is something we can be proud of when really our government and these Canadian companies are making us complicit in the worst human rights abuses.”
Sadly the killings continue.  Sunday at 4PM Ramiro Rivera Gomez, another leader in the resistance to Pacific Rim Mining corporation, was killed  in a village in Cabanas, El Salvador.

See more photos at and visit the CSRT website at