The swath of contested land in eastern Guatemala.
This vast nickel ore processing plant has just re-opened under the management of a Russian company.
A plaintiff at the settlement in Lote Ocho
three of the plaintiffs washing. There is no plumbing at their settlement.
In the home of Rosa Elbira, one of the plaintiffs.
Irma Yolanda Choc cooks tortillas in the home of Rosa Elbira Coc Ich in the new settlement of Lote Ocho May 2014
Olivia washes clothes for the family in a stream.
One of the plaintiffs with her small daughter.
A plaintiff at home.
Margarita Caal Caal, one of the plaintiffs in the Hudbay case, is seen outside the home of Rosa elbira Coc Ich in the new settlement of Lote Ocho, Guatemala. May 2014
The father-in-law of one of the plaintiffs and a Mayan spiritual leader, he supported the women in their break from silence.
Plaintiff in the Hudbay case Amalia Cac Tiul, photographed near Rosa's home in the new selttlement of LOte Ocho. May 2014
Irma Yolanda Choc Cac is photographed outside her home in the new settlement of Lote Ocho May 2014
Olivia Asig Xol, one of the plaintiffs in the Hudbay case, is photograohed in front of her sister's home in Lote Ocho, Guatemala. Olivia lives nearby with her sons. May 2014
Plaintiffs in the Hudbay case (L to R) Lucia Caal Chun, Amalia Cac Tiul, Carmelina Caal Ical and Olivia Asig Xol are photographed in a stream in the new selttlement of LOte Ocho. May 2014
These photographs are from a story published in Macleans Magazine in June 2014. They profile a group of indigenous Mayan women in Guatemala who have filed a lawsuit in Canada against the Canadian mining company Hudbay Minerals. The case is an unprecedented step in holding Canadian companies and their subsidiaries to Canadian legal standards wherever they operate. The story written by Melinda Maldonado really breaks down the complex legal issues, while I added an on-the-ground perspective.
With the help of the NGO Rights Action and the progressive Toronto law firm Klippensteins the women brought their case to the Ontario Superior Court in 2013. The allegations in the lawsuit include the rape of 11 women (six of them are portrayed in this series) and the murder of an anti-mining activist on lands the Mayan Q'eqchi' claim is theirs by ancestry. This small group of poor, semi-literate but determined women have taken on a ground-breaking legal battle against a huge trans-national corporation. It may be a struggle they are only marginally equipped for, but win or lose, their case has broken a legal glass ceiling in the house of corporate accountability. Please have a look at the july 14th issue of Macleans Magazine. The online component, including a short video mixing stills and live-action is at:
or for a higher res video
I was able to produce this story thanks to the Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism, being the 2013 recipient of this generous fellowship.
Photojournalist Roger LeMoyne is the recipient of the 2013 Michener-Deacon Fellowship for Investigative Journalism. The Fellowship was presented during the annual Michener Award ceremony held at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on June 18, 2013.
He will use his fellowship to investigate in words and photos the environmental and civic behaviour of Canadian mining companies in foreign countries.
It is a timely topic, given the Canadian government’s recently announced initiative to assist mining in developing countries through the CIDA-funded Canadian International Institute for Extractive dustries and Development, housed at UBC in partnership with Simon Fraser University.