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Guatemala: Maya Q’eqchi’ plaintiffs in landmark Hudbay Minerals lawsuits facing on-going health, hunger and climate crisis harms

source: Rights Action

Read more background at Business and Human Rights Resource Centre

Read more background at Rights Action

As the Hudbay lawsuits proceed in their 14th year in Canadian courts, Rights Action continues to provide small grants to the 13 plaintiffs who have forever lived at a subsistence poverty level in a normal, let alone when extra harms occur.

Over the course of the lawsuits, the plaintiffs – whose well-being were severely compromised by the mining related violence alleged in the lawsuits – have suffered compounding harms due to worsening annual droughts preventing them from growing their subsistence food crops and then regular hurricanes and tropical storms that wipe out their crops.

Rights Action supporters will recall the extra hardships they faced during the COVID pandemic.

Due to the combination of all these factors on top of historic and systemic racism and exclusion of Indigenous peoples in Guatemala, the plaintiffs suffer worsening health and hunger issues, with no real remedy in sight.

It is never far from the plaintiffs’ minds that Elena Choc Quib – one of the plaintiffs – died on October 18, 2020 of cervical cancer. Many believe Elena would be alive today had she lived in stable living conditions and had access to basic health services.


Worsening cycles of drought and hunger

In 2023, Rights Action shared an emergency funding request that included a Prensa Libre news report: "There is no food at all": Cahaboncito is the village in Panzós with highest levels of famine, where malnutrition hits children.

Eleven of the plaintiffs have lived in Cahoboncito ever since they were displaced from their home community, Lote 8, in 2007.

Today, the plaintiffs and their families are again experiencing increased hunger and malnutrition in their mining-impacted region of Guatemala due to the longest and hottest “dry season” in recent history, leaving recently planted crops dead in the ground, while delaying the planting of new subsistence food crops needed to help get them through next year’s dry season.

[photo missing] Angelica Choc shows baskets made by the plaintiffs to members of Rights Action's TESTIMONIO-Mining in the Aftermath of Genocides in Guatemala delegation that visited El Estor on May 8, 2024. In 2023, Rights Action was able to fund a basket-making and embroidery training project for the 13 plaintiffs and family members.

MEDICAL REPORT: 12 women plaintiffs

This summary was sent to Rights Action by a representative of the plaintiffs. The 12 women received their checkups at the same time, and German Chub separately given the nature of his injuries: lower body paralysis, with a bullet still lodged close to his spinal column.

Patients: 12 Maya Q'eqchi' women, plaintiffs in Hudbay Minerals lawsuits

Dates of care: June 6 and 7, 2024

Where: Medical clinic, Barrio El Centro, El Estor, Izabal

After more than a year, a second general medical checkup was provided for the plaintiffs. Due to many factors, they have not had and do not have the opportunity to produce basic foods for the minimum daily sustenance of their children and families. These factors include:

  • Harms caused by mining related violence more than 15 years ago, including evictions that forced them from their ancestral lands;
  • Systemic and historical racism and exploitation against indigenous peoples in Guatemala; and
  • Ever more extreme climate change plaguing the entire region.

All of these factors affect and weaken the physical and mental health of the plaintiffs.

This year, a prolonged drought continues to this day (June 20, 2024). Without rain, there is no way to work their lands. Based on past years, it is feared that when the drought ends and rains begin, there will be flooding and it will be a crisis on top of the drought crisis. 

Here, a summary of the medical evaluation of the plaintiffs, carried out June 7-8:

  • Anemia: 2 patients
  • Urinary Tract Infection: 9 patients
  • Helicobacter pylori Positive: 4 patients
  • Diabetes: 3 patients
  • Hypercholesterolemia: 1 patient
  • Hypertriglyceridemia: 3 patients
  • Intestinal parathyroidism: 9 patients
  • Vaginitis: 4 patients
  • Ovarian Cysts: 1 patient
  • Myomatosis: 2 patients

NOTE: In relation to pap smears performed on the women, the results will come to the clinic on June 25 or 26. According to the results, corresponding treatments will be given.

According to the results of this check-up, it is clear that they are becoming weaker. This situation is regrettable since they have to support their families and these multiple, over-lapping crises make everything difficult for them.



Patient: German Chub
Dates of care: June 15, 2024
Where: Medical clinic, Barrio El Centro, El Estor, Izabal

A- General physical evaluation (including consultation with traumatologist)
B- Chest x-ray (anterior posterior and lateral).
C- Laboratories (including hematology, pre glucose, post glucose, urine, feces, helicobacter pylori in feces, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, VLDL cholesterol, triglycerides, total cholesterol, glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase, glutamic pyruvic transaminase) resulting in findings of:

  • trophic ulcer in left calcaneus
  • severe urinary infection
  • hypertriglyceridemia
  • anemia
  • intestinal parasitism

The 13 plaintiffs are grateful for the medical attention received, and look forward to continued support from Rights Action and individuals and foundations in Canada and the U.S. who support Rights Action.


Funding needs

Rights Action’s community support work in the mining-harmed Q’eqchi’ communities of El Estor dates back to 2004. Since 2010, Rights Action has very involved in supporting the plaintiffs in any way we can to enable the plaintiffs to see the lawsuits through to the end, and hopefully obtain just reparations. Over the years, we have received support from individual donors and a number of foundations in the U.S. and Canada, for these lawsuits. We ask for your continuing support to help cover costs in 2024-2025 related to:

Health needs – German Chub: $2,400

Beyond the costs of this general checkup (and related medicines), on a bi-monthly basis German needs to purchase supplies (gloves, medicines, lubricants, catheters, etc.) to live his daily life. He regularly needs parts for his wheel-chair.

Health needs – 12 women plaintiffs: $3,200

The twelve women-plaintiffs just received another full medical check-up and pap smears to test for cervical cancer or cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. They too also need to purchase medicines in follow-up to the general check-up.

Basic food consumption through ever lengthening dry seasons: $7,800

Legal requirements in Guatemala: $10,000

As part of the lawsuits in Canada, we are proceeding with a trusted Guatemalan lawyer to have wills prepared for each of the plaintiffs. The lawyer also responds to regular requests from the plaintiffs’ Toronto-based lawyers to resolve pending legal issues in Guatemala related to the lawsuits in Canada.

Regular meetings: $6,000

On a monthly or bi-monthly basis, virtual meetings are arranged between the plaintiffs, lawyers and Grahame. Costs for these meetings include local transportation for plaintiffs (11 of whom need travel over two hours), and two meals. (Grahame is often in-country for these meetings, as part of his Rights Action work in Honduras and Guatemala).

Thank-you for your trust and support. Send questions and comments my way.


Grahame Russell, director