(Phoenix, Ariz) The Peruvian National Police and immigration authorities detained InvestigativeMedia owner and filmmaker John Dougherty on April 21 after he finished screening his documentary film “Flin Flon Flim Flam” in Cusco, Peru.
The documentary reports on Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals’ worldwide mining operations.
More than a dozen plain-clothes officers surrounded Mr. Dougherty and Jen Moore, Latin American program coordinator for MiningWatch, Canada, on the street outside the Cusco Cultural Center and forced them into a vehicle without a warrant. They were taken to the immigration office in Cusco. In a statement released early Monday, Mining Watch, Canada detailed Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore’s unlawful apprehension.
Police held Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore for four hours before being released early Saturday morning. Mr. Dougherty refused to sign documents or declarations police were pressuring him to sign without the presence of English-speaking legal counsel.
An immigration hearing was scheduled for 9 a.m., Monday, April 24 at immigration offices in Cusco.
Upon the advice of legal counsel, Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore left Peru on Saturday. Peruvian attorneys will represent Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore at the immigration proceeding. Mr. Dougherty intends to contest the immigration case and is pursuing all other legal remedies. The police allege Mr. Dougherty was prohibited from screening the film under a tourist visa. Filmmakers attending film festivals routinely enter Peru under tourist visas.
“I strongly believe that Hudbay directed the Peruvian National Police and immigration authorities to detain us because Hudbay does not want the Peruvian people to know the truth about its long history of environmental contamination, allegations of serious human rights abuses and conflicts with local communities near its Constancia mine in Peru,” Mr. Dougherty says.
“Hudbay has had a contract to pay the Peruvian National Police for security services in the past and I believe that such an agreement is still in place,” Mr. Dougherty says. “The company is now taking the dangerous step of using the state to criminalize a journalist engaged in the distribution of truthful information that it wants to hide.”
This relationship between Hudbay and the Peruvian National Police has previously been reported in the media and elsewhere.
At no time since the film’s release in October 2015 has Hudbay stated there was an error of fact. “Hudbay was given every opportunity to comment on the film during the production and refused,” he says.
Hudbay also appears to have direct influence over the Peruvian Interior Ministry, which issued a statement Saturday (English translation) that strongly suggested criminal charges were being prepared against Mr. Dougherty and Ms. Moore for allegedly inciting rural communities to take violent actions against Hudbay.
“In fact, the documentary shows Hudbay’s contract employees, the Peruvian National Police, taking violent action in Nov. 2014 against Peruvian citizens peacefully marching and protesting Hudbay’s alleged failure to abide by agreements,” Mr. Dougherty says.
At no time during question and answer sessions after the screenings of the film in Peru did Mr. Dougherty suggest or encourage any violent action against Hudbay or any other mining company. Ms. Moore made no public statements during any of the events. Her role was to act as a translator for Mr. Dougherty.
“The fact that Ms. Moore was detained for doing nothing more than translating shows how far Hudbay and its police contractors are willing to go in its shameful attempt to silence free speech and intimidate the press,” Mr. Dougherty says.
The film screenings in Chamaca, Velille and Cusco were free and open to the public. DVD copies of the film were distributed free and Mr. Dougherty encouraged their reproduction and distribution. Hudbay and other mining supporters were welcome to attend the events and ask questions about the film, which they did.
Hudbay’s effort to stop the distribution of the film will not succeed. The film will be shown at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 25 at CCPUCP, Avenue Camino Real, 1075 San Isidro, Lima.
Mr. Dougherty will attend the screening and answer questions via Skype.
The documentary, dubbed in Spanish and Quechua, reports on Hudbay’s history of contaminating Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada with heavy metals and poisoning children; legal proceedings in a Toronto civil court where the company stands accused of murder, a shooting that paralyzed a man and gang rapes in Guatemala; conflicts with Peruvian communities where police used teargas and beat peaceful demonstrators and Hudbay’s plans to build the Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains southeast of Tucson.
Mr. Dougherty’s tour in Peru was assisted by Cooperacción and Derechos Humanos Sin Fronteras – Cusco. These groups arranged for screenings in different communities where they have developed relationships with community leaders. The organizations had no role in the financing, production, and editing of the film. Mr. Dougherty paid for all his expenses in Peru and conducted no commercial business.