(Ottawa) Records filed Monday confirm that four Canadian Members of Parliament and one Senator flew on Goldcorp’s tab to visit company operations in Guatemala and meet with legislators in charge of mines at the end of August.
Don Boudria, a lobbyist hired by Goldcorp VP Brent Bergeron, reported to the Lobby Registry of Canada that Conservative MPs Dave Van Kesteren and Dean Allison, both members of the Foreign Affairs and International Development Committee, along with Liberal MP Massimo Pacetti, Independent MP Bruce Hyer and Senator Mac Harb participated in the three-day junket that took place from August 29th to 31st.
Two weeks ago, an email leaked to MiningWatch Canada flagged that the trip was taking place. The tip off became news in Guatemala even before Goldcorp’s jet, in which the delegation traveled, touched down in the capital city. Guatemalan press confirmed that the delegation would meet with the Legislative Commission on Mines and Energy.
President of the Legislative Commission, Edgar Cristiani, told the press they would discuss “different positions on mining, the experience of their country with mining, royalty payments, as well as the issue of conflicts.” Confronted with publicized comments from Goldcorp’s Brent Bergeron about his interest in seeing Guatemala’s mining law modernized with the help of the Canadian government, Cristiani denied that the Parliamentarians sought changes to favour Canadian interests.
Goldcorp’s Guatemalan Executive Director, Mario Marroquín Rivera, insisted to the press that the group had “no hidden agenda”. In a communiqué, Goldcorp’s Guatemalan subsidiary described it as “a good will visit” and “part of a routine agenda of supervision of Canadian investments that Parliamentarians carry out in different parts of the world.”
“In the case of the Marlin mine, given that it belongs to Goldcorp, this is a very important reference point for the parent company and for Canada,” Marío Marroquín Rivera further explained in the press release.
Nonetheless, the timing of the trip and meetings with Guatemalan ministers coincides with uncertainty over the country’s mining code. In July, Guatemalan indigenous organizations presented arguments in a constitutional challenge to the current mining law for failure to consult with them over legislative changes that affect their rights. That same month, President Otto Pérez Molina hit the mining news in Canada when he proposed mining code reforms, which originally included ramping up state participation in mining projects to a potential 40%. Shares of Tahoe Resources, in which Goldcorp holds a large stake, fell 24% the same week.
The Western People’s Council (CPO by its initials in Spanish) whose legislative commission filed the constitutional challenge against the current mining law held a press conference on August 30th to express disappointment at the government not having informed them of the delegation’s visit. The closed door meeting between the Parliamentarians and Guatemalan legislators led CPO representative Josué Navarro to remark, “It leaves a lot to be desired when authorities fail to hold these sorts of meetings in the public realm. We have a pending constitutional challenge against the mining law; so this affects us.”
“Since when do Parliamentarians provide routine oversight at Canadian mine sites abroad?” asks Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. “I doubt that the average Guatemalan took the company’s statements seriously. This trip reinforces what they’ve seen for decades: a cozy relationship between big business and legislators that undermines their rights, this time with a Canadian face.”