May 19, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the intimidation of lawyer Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores in Guatemala.
Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores is a human rights lawyer and the director of the legal department at Centro de Acción Legal Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (“CALAS”, also known in English as the Legal, Environmental and Social Action Centre of Guatemala). CALAS is a human rights organization which promotes environmental issues, community participation and respect for the collective rights of indigenous communities in relation to environmental concerns. CALAS has been active in denouncing human rights abuses committed by mining companies in Guatemala, in particular the transnational mining company Tahoe Resources Inc. and its Guatemalan subsidiary Minera San Rafael S.A. In addition to his work with CALAS, Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores has worked on lawsuits which oppose the criminalization of human rights defenders.
It has come to the Law Society’s attention that on April 3, 2017, unidentified men riding a motorcycle fired eight to twelve gunshots at a vehicle parked in front of Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores’s home in Guatemala City. The incident was reported to the local authorities and to the Public Prosecution.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time Pedro Rafael Maldonado Flores has been targeted as a result of his human rights work. In January 2016, an organization called Fundación Contra el Terrorismo (Foundation Against Terrorism), which comprises (in part) multinational companies and former army personnel, commenced legal proceedings against him on the following grounds: discrimination, threats, aggravated theft, coercion, and “incitement to crime and conspiracy”. He received death threats via Twitter in November 2015, only a few short months after an unknown gunman riding a motorcycle fired multiple shots outside CALAS headquarters. In 2013, he was the subject of many defamatory newspaper articles.