From Socialist Voice, May 2010


Father and son

In late 2009 Pablo Bac and five comrades were shot in an attack in the early hours of the morning. The six Mayan Qeqchi men were well-known anti-mining activists who had been very active in the campaign to stop their expulsion from the land their community and families have lived on for hundreds of years by the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Canadian company Hudbay Minerals.
     Pablo Bac lost an eye after being shot in the head on 28 September last year. On 27 March he finally died from the complications he suffered as a result of the assassination attempt. There is no doubt that this attempt to murder indigenous activists protecting their land and communities is connected to their opposition to Canadian mining in the area.
     What is saddest about this latest murder of an anti-mining activist is that Pablo Bac’s father, also Pablo Bac, met the same fate in 1981 for his opposition to the Canadian mining giant INCO. In 1999 the United Nations “Truth Commission” concluded that this murder was carried out by the Guatemalan army in collusion with INCO. Hudbay Minerals is the successor to this organisation in the attempt to rape Guatemala and take its natural resources, and its relentless drive to do this, regardless of how many communities it needs to drive off their land or how many people it needs to murder.
     These murders of a father and twenty-nine years later of his son for the same corporate interests show the unchecked environments that global mining companies operate in. The Canadian Pension Plan owns $5 million worth of shares in Hudbay. All Canadians over the age of eighteen contribute to this plan. How many know that their pension is invested in a company soaked in the blood of indigenous people struggling to survive, where the very idea of a pension plan is completely alien?
     This struggle being fought by the Mayan Qeqchi on the shores of Lake Izabel stretches back to the 1960s. A continuous flow of Canadian mining companies has come to the area and driven the local people from the land they have lived on for generations, by whatever means necessary. They have done this with the support of US-backed military juntas, which have illegally sold land to these companies. The US-trained Guatemalan military have worked hand in hand with these companies in carrying out killings, beatings, forced evictions, and torture.
     What makes this all the more shocking is the deafening silence coming from Canada. Politicians, investors, the media and people generally in Canada never mention the murders and untold environmental damage being carried out by their country’s companies throughout Central America.
     On 27 September last, the day before Pablo Bac junior was shot, Adolfo Ich, a community leader and teacher, was kidnapped, tortured and then murdered by security guards working for CGN/Hudbay. There are numerous eyewitness accounts of this. However, no charges have been brought against the culprits or their employers.
     While this latest death shows that there is no end in sight to the murderous activities of foreign transnational corporate and capitalist interests in poor countries, it also shows that there will be no end to the resistance by indigenous communities against even the most overwhelming odds. The memory of Pablo Bac, father and son, will live on in the continuing struggle of indigenous communities to hang on to a little piece of land and dignity.

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