A group from the Unitarian Fellowship of Fredericton held a reading of the play, The Last
Walk of Adolfo Ich, on Sept. 19 in Fredericton.
The play, created by noted Canadian playwright Marion de Vries, fictionalizes a true event that happened: the savage killing of Angélica Choc’s husband, Adolfo Ich, in September of 2009 by a security guard at the HudBay Minerals mine in El Estor, Guatemala (the mine was subsequently sold to the Solway Group in 2011).
The piece was commissioned from de Vries by Aluna Theatre company in Toronto and is being promoted by Amnesty International and the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network (BTS), as a way to raise awareness about the impacts of mining.
The dramatization was read by a troupe whose roles included Adolfo Ich’s wife, Angélica
Choc, and her Canadian lawyer, Corey Wanless from Klippensteins, a progressive law firm from Toronto, a representative of HudBay (played by Myron Hedderson) and a Canadian government worker, as well as four witnesses to the event (including actors Carlos Gomes and Jo-Anne Elder-Gomes).
All the actors took great pride in their roles and the chorus of voices with contradictory
messages made for a very thought-provoking experience. The actress playing Angélica Choc, Najat Abdou-McFarland, denounced her husband’s murder and demanded justice. Her voice contrasted with the government and company representatives’ economic propaganda about “maximizing shareholder” revenue, claims of corporate social responsibility and of being “good corporate citizens.”
Joan McFarland, the play’s director, described the sometimes-graphic images that were presented on the slides during the original production in Toronto, choosing instead to keep an iconic picture of Angélica Choc holding a picture of her deceased husband.
Adolfo Ich’s widow, Angélica Choc, visited Fredericton in November 2013 during a Canadian tour to talk about the situation in her home village in El Estor in Guatemala. A documentary film called Defensora, made by Rachel Schmidt, about what happened to Ich in 2013 was screened during her visit.
The person accused of killing Adolfo Ich, Mynor Padilla, was acquitted during his original
criminal trial in Guatemala but this decision was overturned in September 2017.
Klippensteins is creating a legal precedent by taking a Canadian company to court in Canada
for the actions of its subsidiaries abroad in 2013. The case is making its way through the courts today.
McFarland is a member of BTS who has visited two other Canadian-owned mine sites in Guatemala, the now-closed Goldcorp gold mine and now-suspended Tahoe gold and silver mine. McFarland led a group discussion with the public after the reading of the play. She mentioned that an ombudsman for the extractive sector was one of the promises made by the Trudeau Liberals in the last election. The Fredericton group is sending letters to Fredericton Member of Parliament Matt DeCourcey to hold him accountable. DeCourcey is also the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
McFarland also encouraged people to read the June 30th piece from The Walrus on these cases. Canada Pension Plan is invested in these companies, something that is mentioned in the play and shocked some members of the public in attendance.
BTS is putting on this play in the Maritimes in order to raise awareness about the need for mechanisms for justice in Canada for those harmed by Canadian mining abuses abroad. Groups wanting to hold a reading can get more information from the Amnesty International’s website.
Sophie M. Lavoie is a member of the Fredericton committee of the Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network. An editorial board member of the NB Media Co-op, she writes on arts and culture for the co-op.