MAC: Mines and Communities

Latin American Churches and Mining Network meets in Bogota

Published by MAC on 2016-09-08
Source: Catholic News Service

A growing coalition of religious organizations and environmental groups to confront big mining

"We are encouraged by the Gospel of Jesus, the encyclical ‘Laudato Si’,’ and by the strength of the many communities affected by mining and other extractive industries,” the network said in a statement dated Sept. 4, following a regional meeting in Colombia.

The network’s statement, signed by some 50 members from at least 15 countries, comes amid heightening conflicts between international mining companies and local communities.

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Latin American coalition: Mining causing damage, not delivering benefits

Ezra Fieser

Catholic News Service -

September 8, 2016

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNS) — Large-scale mining and extractive operations are failing to deliver economic benefits while causing environmental damage and human suffering throughout Latin America, said a coalition of church organizations and environmental groups.

The Churches and Mining Network, which includes Catholic bishops, priests and laypeople, leaders of Christian churches and environmentalists, said in a statement that governments, church leaders and civil society organizations need to find alternatives to so-called “mega-mining” operations.

“We are aware that defending Creation, in a predatory system whose highest purpose is profit and money, is an action that involves danger and the risk of death. But we are encouraged by the Gospel of Jesus, the encyclical ‘Laudato Si’,’ and by the strength of the many communities affected by mining and other extractive industries,” the network said in the statement Sept. 4, following a meeting in Bogotá, Colombia.

The 2015 encyclical said demand from richer developed countries was causing harm in the global South, where the mining operations are carried out. “The export of raw materials to satisfy markets in the industrialized North has caused harm locally, as for example in mercury pollution in gold mining or sulphur dioxide pollution in copper mining,” it said.

The network’s statement, which was signed by roughly 50 members coming from at least 15 countries, comes amid heightening conflict between international mining companies and rural communities, often populated by indigenous peoples.

A report released in June by the international nongovernmental organization Global Witness found that 185 people were killed in such conflicts across the globe last year, the highest number on record. Nearly two of every three of those deaths occurred in Latin American countries, led by Brazil’s 50 killings, according to the report.

“We are worried by the increase in criminalization and assassinations of those who are defending the land, like the case of our sister Berta Caceres, for whom we demand justice and call for a more just world for women, human rights activists and the victims of the extractives industry,” the network said in its statement.

Caceres, a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous rights leader who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015 for her work in opposing a proposed hydroelectric dam, was shot dead in her home in March.

The Churches and Mining Network said governments have to do more to protect activists and that bishops, priests and laypeople should listen to the communities affected by mining.

“We call on the churches to take an active role in defense of our common home as this is a constitutive element of being Christian,” the statement said.

Latin American Church coalition condemns mega mining

13 September 2016

Mega mining does not solve the economic problems of countries in Latin America, on the contrary has harmful effects on people, communities and nature. This is one of the conclusions reached by the participants in the Third Meeting of the Churches and Mining Latin America Network, held from 2 to 4 September in the Colombian capital, Bogota, which brought together 50 bishops, priests religious and lay leaders from various countries. Churches and Mining is an ecumenical and inter-religious network. From the Franciscans Family there were three people: Moema OFS, Igor YOFRA and Rodrigo OFM.

At the end of the meeting they issued a statement, the full text of which follows below.

Richard Solly, Co-ordinator of London Mining Network, commented: "We warmly welcome this strong statement from our friends in the Latin American Churches and Mining Network, and we look forward to working with them more closely in the future in the common defence of the planet and of the people most affected by large-scale mining - especially mining by companies based in, or financed from, London."

Declaration of the Third meeting of the Churches and Mining Network

A cry for the lands lost; a cry for the extraction of riches from the soil which paradoxically has not produced wealth for the local populations, who remain poor; a cry of pain in reaction to violence, threats and corruption; a cry of indignation and for help for the violations of human rights, blatantly or discreetly trampled (Pope Francis to the meeting of communities affected by mining, July 2015)

Within the frame of the World Day of Prayer for the Common House, We have gathered in Bogota about 50 religious and laypersons; women and men from countries in America and Europe, members of the Churches and Mining Network, to hear the cries of Mother Earth, exchange experiences of resistance and alternatives to the so-called "development" and to reflect on the challenges that we, as Christians, face in regard to the many problems suffered by communities affected by mining. We started our meeting with visits to the departments of Tolima (Ibagué and Cajamarca) and Valledupar (Cerro Largo), where the companies Drummond and Anglo Gold Ashanti operates; two of the many areas in Colombian territory affected by opencast mining. Through observation and testimonies we found that the harmful effects of open-pit mining violate the rights of nature and therefore constitute a crime against humanity.

+ We are concerned about the increasing criminalization and murders of those defending the territories, as is the case with our sister Berta Caceres for whom we reclaim justice, and through it ask for a fairer world for women, who play a leading role in defense of life but are always the first victims of extractivism. We are aware that defending the Creation, within a predatory system whose highest purpose is profit and money, is an action that involves risk and danger of death, but the gospel of Jesus encourages us, as does the encyclical "Laudato Si" and the spirit of struggle of many communities affected by mining and other extractive activities.

+ We urge local authorities elected by popular will to support initiatives in defense of life. We are pleased to note that the City Council of Cajamarca and the Mayor of Ibagué consider an ethical commitment with the citizenship the fact of accompanying initiatives in defense of the common house.

+ We call our churches to take an active commitment in defense of the common house as this is a constitutive element of being Christian. We alert the Church hierarchy on the cooptation mechanisms that companies and some governments are implementing. We see hope in the attitude of many bishops, priests, pastors and lay people who hear the cries of the victims in their territories and we celebrate their commitment to life.

+ We salute the Colombian people in their efforts to achieve peace and put an end to the long period of internal war that they suffered. Peace is the way to continue building a fairer, more equitative Colombia that is also more in harmony with Mother Nature.

From the ecumenical spirit that animates us, our Churches and Mining Network reaffirms its commitment to continue supporting small communities that are displaced and overthrown in their most basic rights. Experience shows us that nowhere in the world mining is an alternative for development, neither comprehensive nor sustainable for our peoples.

Bogotá, 4th of September 2016


Red Iglesias and Mining
Dario P Giuliano Bossi, Comboni Missionaries, Justiça nos Trilhos network, Brazil
Claudia Andrea Huircan, Claretians from the province of San José del Sur, Argentina
Rodrigo de Castro Amédée Péret, Franciscans International, Brazil
Rosa del Valle Araoz de Machado, Sumai Kausay Collective, Catamarca-Argentina
Dom André de Witte, Bishop of Ruy Barbosa, Comição Pastoral da Terra - CNBB, Brazil
Birgit Weiler, Theologian from Antonio Ruiz de Montoya University, Peru
Monsignor Juan Carlos Barreto, Bishop of Quibdo, Colombia
Apolinar Flores Tococari, Centre for Ecology and Andean, Bolivia
Victor Manuel Hirsch, Vivat International, Argentina
Viviana del Carmen Vaca, National Team of Indigenous Pastoral -ENDEPA, Argentina
Stefan Reinhold, CIDSE, Belgium
Moema Marques De Miranda, Inter Franciscan Service of Justice, Peace and Ecology, Brazil
Fr Nelson José Barrientos Chodiman, Diocese of Copiapo, Alto del Carmen, Chile
Igor Guilherme Pereira Bastos, Global Catholic Climate Movement, Brazil
Sandra del Carmen Ferrero, EDIPA, Sisters of Mercy, Argentina
Alessandro Gallazzi, Theologian, Advisor to the Pastoral de la Tierra, Brazil
Susanne Friess, Misereor, Germany
Patrícia Generoso Thomaz Guerra, Conceição do Mato Dentro, MG-Brasil
Maria Angely Robles Carvajal, Presbyterian Church, Chile
César Eduardo Correa Valenzuela, Columban Missionary Society, Chile
Fr Henry Ramírez Soler cmf, Claretian Missionaries, Colombia
Carmen Amaya Alicia Rodriguez, Inter Ecclesial Commission of Justice and Peace, Colombia
Fr Jesús Alberto Franco Giraldo, Inter Ecclesial Commission of Justice and Peace, Colombia
Milton Fernando López Ruiz, Fastenopfer, Colombia
Martha Inés Romero Medina, Pax Christi International, Colombia
Augusto César Padilla Ormeño, OCMAL (Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America)Chile Alírio Caceres,
Mauricio Lopez, REPAM (Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network), Ecuador
P. Gregory Kennedy SJ CLAR - CRC, Colombia
Milton Mejia Camargo Mariano, CLAI, Ecuador
Pedro Sanchez, SIGNIS LAC, Ecuador
Vidalina Morales Gamez, Association of social economic development, El Salvador
Scott Wright, Interfaith Working Group on the Extractive Industries, USA
Carlos Alarcon Novoa, Organization for Human Rights of the Archbishopric of Guatemala
Cesar Augusto Espinoza Muñoz, Claretian Missionaries, Honduras
Pedro Landa Palma, Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación - ERIC, Honduras
Lupo Canterac Troya, Red Regional Agua, Desarrollo y Democracia, Piura-Perú
Pablo Arturo Sanchez de Francesch, GRUFIDES, Peru
Jahncke Rodolfo Javier Benavente, Red MUQUI, Peru
Esther Dorothea Winkler, Fastenopher, Switzerland
Signatures to be continued...

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