Witnesses and experts

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José Luis Abarca, Chiapas, Mexico, will talk about the social conflict and repression of opposition associated with Blackfire Exploration’s baryte Payback mine in Chicomuselo, Chiapas. The social conflict has generated a spiral of violence leading to the death of José Luis’ father, Mariano Abarca, murdered in November of 2009 for his opposition to the mine.

Carlos Amador, Comite ambiental de Valle de Siria, Honduras: Carlos Amador is a member of the Environmental committee of the Valle de Siria in Honduras, an organization that is demanding justice for communities affected by environmental contamination from the San Martin Goldcorp mine.

Sergio Campusano, Comunidad Agricola Diaguita Huasco Altinos, Valle del Huasco, Chile: Sergio Campusano V. is the elected president of the agrarian community Diaguita Huasco Altinos (north of Chile) since 2004. His community has been fighting against many mining companies including Barrick Gold, GoldCorp, Teck and others, since the end of the 1990’s. The Pascua Lama project (Barrick Gold) that is currently threatening the territory and lifestyle of his community, is one of the biggest gold extraction projects in the world. In 2006, his community issued a complaint to the IACHR against the government of Chile for approving a project without their consent. This project is currently on hold.

Erick Castillo, Comite en Defensa de la Vida y la Paz, San Rafael las Flores, Guatemala: Erick Castillo is a farmer and active member of the comity for the defense of life and peace in San Rafael la Flores. His community is currently affected by the installation of the large scale mining project Escobal.

Dante Lopez, Proyecto Derechos Economicos, Sociales y Culturales –ProDESC, Mexico: Dante Lopez comes from the Ocampo community in the municipality of Atotonilco de Tula in the State of Hidalgo in Mexico. At the age of 17, he moved to Mexico City to continue his professional studies in Sociology at the Political and Social Science Faculty of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. There, he got involved in student groups fighting for the defense of the right to free education and education of quality. Dante Lopez collaborated with the Mexican office of the American Center of International Union Solidarity for the defense of the right to work, labor rights, in particular by supporting young workers looking to unionize in a call center of the company Atento, property of the multinational company Telefonica and the bank BBVA Bancomer. Since 2012, he has been collaborating with ProDESC (project of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) as coordinator in charge of supporting organizing processes in defense of the territory, the land and natural goods in El Ejido La Sierrita and the process of mining workers in the section 309 of the National Mining Worker’s Union for the defense of their labor rights.

Pedro Landa, Centro Hondureño de Promoción al Desarrollo Comunitario – CEHPRODEC, Honduras: Pedro Landa is the Coordinator of the Human and Environenmental Rights program at the Honduran Center for the promotion of communitarian development (Centro Hondureño de Promoción para el Desarrollo Comunitario (CEHPRODEC)). He is also the coordinator of the National Coalition of Environmental Networks, a platform that involves 49 networks of organizations working in the field of human rights in relation to mega-projects in the mining industry, large-scale dam projects and the oil and fuel industry. At an international level, this coalition is part of a group working on the mining industry and human rights in Latin America. With this group, Pedro Landa has worked on documenting 24 cases of human rights violations committed by Canadian mining companies in 10 countries of Latin America. The results were presented at the thematic hearings of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on November 1st 2013. In Honduras an important part of his job is to accompany communities resisting open-pit mining projects, and human rights defenders. He also gives legal advice to leaders that are criminalized due to their activities in defending human rights.

Oscar Morales, Comité en Defensa de la Vida y la Paz, San Rafael las Flores, Guatemala: Oscar Morales is an agricultural engineer, environmentalist, and human rights activist, and producer of cow’s milk and cheese. Since 2010 he has been the coordinator of the Committee in Defense of Life and Peace, in San Rafael Las Flores, and COCODES President (Community Mayor) in downtown San Rafael Las Flores. Oscar Morales has been criminalized for resisting mining and demanding civil rights in his community.

Lina Solano Ortiz, Frente de Mujeres Defensoras de la Pachamama, Cuenca, Ecuador: Lina Solano Ortiz is a sociologist with a Master’s degree in Sociology and Development and is completing another Master’s in Health with a focus on ecosystems at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Cuenca. She founded the Frente de Mujeres Defensoras de la Pachamama and other organizations that have been resisting to large-scale mining projects in Ecuador. These organizations include the Coordinadora Campesina Popular and the Coordinadora Nacional por la Defensa de la Vida y la Soberanía (National Coordination for the Defense of Life and Sovereignty). Currently, she is president of the Latinoamerican Women Union and a coordinating member of the International Women’s Alliance (IWA). Because of her involvement in the defense of our Mother Earth, she has been victim of criminalization, legal persecutions and other violations of her rights, such as the arbitrary stripping of her right to liberty, physical violence by state forces and disqualification and the elimination of her privileges, from one part by transnational mining companies and from another part by the State of Ecuador and its government.

Juliana Turqui, Oxfam America, Guatemala. Juliana Turqui is Oxfam America’s program coordinator for extractive industries in Central America. She has been following closely the social impacts of mining in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Nancy Yañez, Observatorio ciudadano; Universidad de Chile: Nancy Yanez is a lawyer and professor of Legal Anthropology at the Law Faculty of the University of Chile in Santiago. She got her Master’s degree in international human rights at the University of Notre-Dame in the Unites-States. She worked for over a decade on the subject of indigenous rights, participating in governmental institutions as the Special Commissioner for indigenous Peoples and at the ministry of National Goods. Lina Solano has also worked as consultant for investigation institutions, specializing in the rights to land and natural resources for indigenous communities. On this subject, she developed an expertise in international law and comparative law. She collaborated with the Historical Truth and New Deal Commission. Currently, she is co-director of the Chilean Citizen Observatory, a non-governmental organization for the defense, documentation and promotion of human rights. It was created in 2004, in Temuco city as the Observatory for indigenous rights, by a group of citizens from different parts of Chile and from different professional and ethnic background.


Stephen Brown, University of Ottawa: Brown is Professor of Political Science at the University of Ottawa. His research focuses mainly on the intersection of the policies and practices of Northern countries and other international actors with politics in Southern countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. He has published on democratization, political violence, peacebuilding and transitional justice/rule of law in Angola, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda, as well as foreign aid, especially Canada’s. He is the editor of Struggling for Effectiveness: CIDA and Canadian Foreign Aid and is currently co-editing a volume on the securitization of foreign aid and another on rethinking Canadian aid.

Maude Chalvin, Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie, Montréal: Maude Chalvin is one of the founding members of the Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie. Through international accompaniment, sharing of information and raising of awareness, the PASC is mobilized since 2003 in order to articulate a solidarity movement of resistance on an internationalist basis and anti-colonial perspective. One of the objectives of the collective is to denounce how Canada is profiting from the dirty war in Colombia. www.pasc.ca

Laurence Guénette, Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala, Montréal: Laurence Guénette is the coordonator of the Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala. She has been involved in different initiatives and social movements for the defense of human rights since 2006, including in Guatemala and at the US-Mexican border with undocumented migrants. The PAQG began, in 2014, a campaign called the Money Thread, an educative project in order to raise awareness amongst Canadians and Quebecers in Soliarity with Guatemalan populations resisting  Canadian mining projects.

Shin Imai, Justice and Corporate Accountability Project, Osgoode Law School, York University, Toronto: Associate Professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. Shin Imai is currently co-director of the Intensive Program in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments and the director of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project. After he became a lawyer in 1980, Imai practiced at Keewaytinok Native Legal Services in Moosonee and later had his own practice in the areas of human rights, refugee law and indigenous rights. He joined the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General in 1989 to work on the development of Alternative Dispute Resolution programs and to initiate justice project in indigenous communities. Imai’s publications include the Aboriginal Law Handbook (on Canadian Aboriginal law); “Breaching Indigenous Law: Canadian Mining in Guatemala” with Ladan Mehranvar and Jennifer Sander (on Goldcorp’s Marlin Mine); and “Counter-pedagogy for Social Justice” (on clinical teaching).

Meera Karunananthan, Council of Canadians: Meera Karunananthan is international water campaigner for the Blue Planet Project, a global initiative of the Council of Canadians aimed at promoting the human right to water and water justice around the world.

Karyn Keenan, Halifax Initiative, Ottawa: Karyn Keenan works at the Halifax Initiative, a coalition of Canadian civil society organizations. She works to promote government accountability concerning the overseas operations of multinational corporations. Karyn has experience working for environmental and social justice non-governmental organizations both in Canada and abroad. Her work in Peru and Bolivia focused on the social and environmental impacts of mining, oil and gas operations. Karyn was a member of the multi-stakeholder Advisory Group to the 2006/7 National Roundtable process, a major consultation convened by the Government of Canada regarding the overseas extractive sector. Karyn participated in consultations with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the UN Working Group on business and human rights. Karyn led civil society efforts in support of Bill C-300, federal legislation concerning the overseas extractive sector. Karyn is a member of the Steering Committee of the Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability (CNCA) and is a consultant to civil society organizations. She holds degrees in biology, law and environmental studies, and was called to the Bar of the Law Society of Upper Canada in 2001.

Marie-Dominik Langlois: Marie-Dominik Langlois obtained her bacchelor’s degree in international development with a minor in economy and hispanic studies at McGill University. She spent 8 years as coordinator of different non-governmental organizations involved in the topics of social and environmental justice, human rights, and working on the issues of natural resources exploitation in latin America (Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine, Réseau canadien de reddition de comptes des entreprises, Réseau œcuménique justice et paix, Syndicat des Métallos, Projet Accompagnement Québec-Guatemala). She started her Master’s Degree at l’UQAM in political Science with a focus on international relations, foreign politics, cooperation and development. Her Masters evaluates the identity issues of the Xinka Community and its strategies in relation to the conflict with the Escobal Mine opposing them to the Canadian mining company Tahoe Resources and the State of Guatemala.

Laura Lopez, Institut de recherche et d’information socio-économique – IRIS, Montréal: Laura Lopez is a researcher at the Research Institute on Socio-Economic information. She has a masters in environmental science from UQAM university and has been working for a few years now on mining related conflicts in Latin America as well as economic and socio-ecological impacts of the mining industry in Quebec.

Jennifer Moore, Mining Watch Canada, Ottawa: Latin America Program Coordinator at Mining Watch Canada, Jennifer Moore works on the Guatemala/Goldcorp campaign and on supporting communities, organizations, and networks struggling with mining issues throughout Latin America. Jennifer is a freelance print and broadcast journalist with twelve years experience in social justice journalism, a third of which she has gained while living and working in Ecuador. While in South America from 2006 to 2010, she researched and wrote popular and academic articles about the struggles of indigenous and non-indigenous communities affected by Canadian-financed mining companies.

Isabel Orellana, Centr’ERE, UQAM, Montréal: Professor in the department of didactics, researcher at the centre for research on environmental education and eco-citizenship (Centr’ERE), director of the environmental science masters program at UQAM, and member of DIALOG, a network for research and knowledge related to indigenous peoples. Her main field of work is with environmental education in relation to community ecodevelopment. She is interested in working on social processes that build knowledge related to environmental education and its social relevance, in particular to its contribution to emancipation, building identity, community empowerment and change during situations of socio-environmental critiques.

Pierre-Yves Sérinet, Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale – RQIC, Montréal: A political scientist specialized in international politics and social movements, Pierre-Yves Serinet has worked with coalitions of social movements here and abroad for over 20 years, with labour and popular movements in Columbia in the middle of the 90’s, as a coordinator of Solidarité Populaire Québec at the end of the 90’s, with Common Frontiers and the Mexican Network for action against Free Trade (RMALC) from 2001 to 2003 as well as with the Secretariat of the Continental Social Alliance (ASC). Since 2004, Pierre-Yves is the coordinator for the Quebec network on continental integration (RQIC), a large multi-sectorial coalition that works against free trade and the excessive powers that this economic model gives to multinationals at the expense of human rights.

Ana Maria Suarez-Franco, FIAN-International/Consorcio ETOs, Geneva: Ana Maria is a lawyer at the Javeriana University in Columbia. During her doctoral studies, she was a researcher at the Max Plank Institute on comparative constitutional law and international public law. Her main areas of research were law in relation to economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the monitoring of the relations between public policies and the right to food. Eventually she focused her attention on cases brought forth at the UN, extra-territorial obligations of States and specifically the theme of human rights and transnational corporations. She is currently FIAN’s Permanent Representative on human rights systems at the UN in Geneva. She is also responsible for facilitating the bridge between her work in Rome, Geneva and Washington, and supporting the participation of social movements and representatives of communities in international debates on Human rights systems at the UN.

Nancy Thède, chair holder of the Nycole-Turmel Chair on public spaces and political innovations, UQAM, Montréal: Nancy Thède is an anthropologist and professor at the Department of political sciences at the UQAM. She has experience working with international cooperation organizations and has lead trips in the global south to carry out field research. She was responsible of the programme on democratic development at the International Centre on Rights and Democracy. Her field of expertise is international development with a particular focus on social movements and democratization in Africa and Latin America. Her recent publications were notably on local democratization, decentralization and human rights as well as on Canadian international aid policies and democratization. Nancy Thède holds the Nycole-Turmel Chair on public spaces and political innovations at UQAM.