On Sunday, the "Mining Secrets" journalistic investigation revealed that the Swiss mining company Solway Investment Group concealed evidence that inferred its responsibility in pollution cases in El Estor municipality in Guatemala to continue operating in such territory.
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Led by the non-profit project Forbidden Stories, the investigation was based on documents and emails leaked by Guatemalan hackers from the National Nickel Company (GCN) and Izabal Nickel Company (PRONICO), which are subsidiaries of Solway Investment Group.
The study showed this company’s maneuvers to hide scientific studies showing that the 2017 appearance of a strange red spot on Lake Izabal was due to PRONICO environmental contamination and not to algae reproduction, as its executives alleged.
As part of its strategy to conceal such evidence, the Group intimidated and monitored journalists who reported on the Lake status and social leaders who denounced the pollution case before environmental organizations.
The investment company also forced Indigenous and farmer families to displace themselves from the area by spreading slander against them and even bribed security agents to repress mass protests over the activity of their subsidiaries.
In one of these demonstrations, fisherman Carlos Maaz was shot dead by police officers. In another, the military threw tear gas to dozens of Indigenous people and later forced them to displace themselves from their homes.
“Authorities acted like we are terrorists, which is not true. We just are asking for our right to have a clean environment, a place to live without pollution,” protester Olga Che stressed and hoped that Solway Investment Group executives pay for their crimes.