Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

"Solway's attack on freedom of expression is part of a planned intimidation strategy"

  • Paolina Albani, a Community Press journalist from Guatemala, came from the hand of NGO Mugarik Gabe, 35 years old, to Euskal Herria. The multinational Solway asked ARGIA to abolish the conversation and pay EUR 15,000. On Tuesday, ARGIA and members without borders have held a press conference. The text read by Ainitze Zabala Granados is as follows:
Argazkia: Dani Blanco / ARGIA

20 June 2023 - 13:01

Mugarik Gabe joins ARGIA: Journalism is not a crime

To start with, you need to locate El Estor. It is a Guatemalan municipality located on the shores of Lake Izabal. Izabal, the largest lake in the country, is an essential source of work and food for citizens. For the Maya people Q 'eqchi.

It includes the mining company Solway Investment Group, which, although Russian capital, is based in Switzerland. This multinational, which has operated the Phoenix mine since 2011, is one of the largest open pit mines in Central America. According to its website, it is also the largest company in the world to extract nickel, with presence in countries such as Russia, Macedonia, Liberia or Indonesia.

To understand the connections and interests of the company, it has to be said that one of its main customers is the last Finnish manufacturer Outokumpu.Este is the stainless steel manufacturer. It supplies, among others, Ikea and Bosch Siemens, and is one of the components used in the manufacture of sinks, cutlery and household appliances that we can find in our homes today.

The communities of El Estor and popular communicators (including the Community Press) have denounced for years the mining activity and its impact, both on the environmental impact of the mine and on its communities. The response to the complaints has been brutal repression: arbitrary arrests, the opening of untried prosecutions, criminalisation, housing violations, persecution, siege situations and murder.

Although this model is quite common in the activity of multinational mining companies in Latin America, this case has a significant difference, since eight million internal documents and messages have been filtered and the activity has been investigated. The project we’ve known as Mining Secrets has highlighted Solway’s strategies in partnership with the authorities to achieve its goals: “below all braces, above all clouds.”

Contrary to what is often achieved, in this case the corrupt activities of the company have been revealed. This has been achieved thanks to the essential work of the committed media.

Most importantly:

Argia has been one of those committed means that has helped spread the case and in return has been threatened by the company. This attack on freedom of expression is part of a planned intimidation strategy. What today suffers from the Light, tomorrow will be supported by another means of communication or institution for human rights. The aim is to extend insecurity and fear as a way of imposing self-censorship.

According to the Guatemalan organization Udefegua, in 2021 alone, there were 1002 attacks on people, communities and organizations that defend human rights in Guatemala, with social communicators (mainly community) being the most criminalized.

We support the fight of q 'eqchi in El Estor through various reports and visits, and we support the work of associations such as the Community Press (at the source of these threats now being collected by Argia).

Today we want to publicly show our support, solidarity and affection for Argia, an essential travel partner to promote a decent life model for all people and peoples.

So, together with you, let's say aloud: journalism is not a crime.

They will not silence us.

Leave the LIGHT alone.

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