Taking on Goliath

Guatemalan woman brings major legal case against Canadian mining corporation

Indigenous women protest land occupation by mining companies in Guatemala City. (JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Margarita Caal Caal is, perhaps, an unlikely woman to take down a multinational mining corporation. A Mayan farmer’s wife from Lote Ocho Guatemala, Caal has become the face of a legal case accusing Canadian company Hudbay Mineral, Inc., of negligence, though the details of the case are far more disturbing. In 2007, security guards from the nearby mine came, along with police officers, to Caal’s house and demanded entry, and then proceeded to gang-rape her before evicting her and her family from their land. Other women in Caal’s village reported the same details of gang-rape and eviction. The mine was then owned by another mining company later bought by Hudbay, which Caal and her attorneys say should have put proper monitoring and safety protocols in place to ensure locals’ safety.

The case could have enormous legal consequences in Canada, where many multinational mining companies are headquartered and have avoided lawsuits in territories throughout the world where they operate. Since Caal filed suit in the Canada and has cleared initial legal hurdles to having it heard in court, mining companies there have become nervous about the possibility of a legal precedent being set there.

“For once, the court is going to look at what really happened here, and that is important,” Sara Seck, an expert on corporate social responsibility at Western University in Ontario, told The New York Times. “There are companies out there doing things that they would never do in their own countries.”

Hudbay denies that rapes took place and that it had anything to do with the evictions. The case is still ongoing in Canada.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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