Pan American Silver apologizes, ends legal battle with injured Guatemalan protesters

Escobal is the world’s third largest silver mine and site of the 2013 shooting. (Image courtesy of Tahoe Resources)

The high-profile, six-year legal battle between a group of Guatemalan protestors and Tahoe Resources of Vancouver, Canada, has come to an end.  

Pan American Silver, which acquired Tahoe in February 2019, issued a public apology on Tuesday announcing the resolution of the Garcia v. Tahoe case.  

The lawsuit was launched in response to a shooting incident in April 2013 at Tahoe’s Escobal mine in southeast Guatemala. Protestors had gathered at the entrance to the mine to protest the lack of community consultation on the project.  

The head of security for the mine, Alberto Rotondo, ordered security personnel to break up the demonstration by shooting at the protestors. Several were injured, one very seriously. The victims retained Vancouver-based Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman (CFM Lawyers) to represent them in a civil suit against Tahoe in Canada. 

In 2017, The British Columbia Court of Appeal rejected efforts by Tahoe to dismiss a lawsuit brought by seven Guatemalan men for injuries they suffered.  

“The case sets a very important precedent,” said Joe Fiorante, Q.C., partner at CFM Lawyers, in a press release. It confirms that Canadian courts are the appropriate forum for human rights claims arising from the foreign activities of Canadian mining companies.” 

“The shooting on April 27, 2013, infringed the human rights of the protestors. Pan American, on behalf of Tahoe, apologizes to the victims and to the community”

Michael Steinmann, President and CEO of Pan American Silver

“The shooting on April 27, 2013, infringed the human rights of the protestors. Pan American, on behalf of Tahoe, apologizes to the victims and to the community,” Michael Steinmann, President and CEO of Pan American Silver, said in Tuesday’s media statement.  

“This is an important victory for us and our community,” said claimant Luis Fernando GarcĂ­a in a press release. “It vindicates our right to protest and to continue our resistance against mining operations in our community.” 

The conclusion of the case does not affect the ability of the protestors to exercise their legal rights of protest related to the mine in the future, Pan American said.  

The Canadian lawsuit is not related to the suspension of Tahoe’s mining license by the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, and the case will not impact the ongoing consultation process in Guatemala regarding the mine.  

The conclusion of the lawsuit likewise does not affect the criminal proceedings in Guatemala against Alberto Rotondo. 

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