MAC: Mines and Communities

Latin America Update

Published by MAC on 2007-08-10

Latin America Update - Solicitan observadores internacionales para consulta popular por el proyecto minero Río Blanco, Perú

10th August 2007

Local communities, a platform of Peruvian NGOs and civil society organisations, as well as the Defense Front for Sustainable Development in the North of Peru, have made a request for international observers to a referendum on the Rio Blanco copper project in Piura, to take place on 16 September 2007 in the districts of Carmen de la Frontera, Ayabaca and Pacaipampa. Also in Peru, Doe Run Peru has not started construction of its sulfuric acid plant, and is accused of continuing to disregard Peruvian environmental laws.

The British mining giant Anglo American has been accused of profiting from the persecution, intimidation and killing of miners who oppose the company's operations in Colombia . The international charity War on Want released a report denouncing a "pattern of global abuse" in countries where Anglo American operates.

In Guatemala, residents of the Mayan Q'eqchi' community of La Paz, in the municipality of Panzos, are facing an eviction, despite Skye Resources' claim to the land being based on old rights granted to INCO by a repressive military dictatorship in the 1960s. Extremely alarmed at the prospect of the impending order, community leaders have asked for international support.

In Chile, it is claimed that the strike of roughly half the 28,000 subcontracted workers at Chile's state National Copper Corporation (CODELCO) may set a precedent for labour rights in the country as it reached its 35th day. The striking workers are demanding the same wages for the same work as employees working directly for CODELCO. The Episcopal Conference's declaration, "Fundamental Challenges in Recent Labour Conflicts," said that subcontracting or outsourcing has become a widely-used mechanism to drive labour costs down to the detriment of working conditions and equal pay.

The legal battle over Drummond's activities in Colombia doesnt seem to be over, despite a US jury deciding that Drummond was not responsible for the killing of three union leaders at a Colombian coal mine in 2001. In a public statement, General Secretary of Funtraenergética claimed that "What we will do now is go to the appeals court ... to annul the ruling in order to repeat the case in better judicial conditions for us".

Residents of the Calchaquí Valley of Salta, in the northwest of Argentina, met in Cachi's municipal hall to reject the government sponsored uranium exploration activities in the area.


Anglo American accused of profiting from abuse by Colombian army

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Bogotá, The Guardian

3rd August 2007

The British mining giant Anglo American has been accused of profiting from the persecution, intimidation and killing of miners in Colombia who oppose the company's operations.

The international charity War on Want says in a report released yesterday that Anglo American and its subsidiaries benefited from army operations in areas where the company is prospecting, which have forced families off their land and intimidated community leaders. It is part of a "pattern of global abuse" in countries where Anglo American operates, it says. The report comes on the day Anglo American, the world's second largest mining company, announces its half-year results. Profits rose by 76% to $6.2bn (£3bn) last year.

In Colombia, Anglo American's subsidiary AngloGold Ashanti is registered as Kedahda SA. The company is exploring several areas in the conflict-ridden San Lucas mountains, north-central Colombia, which hold one of South America's richest gold deposits. It is seeking licences to prospect in more than 1.2m hectares (3m acres) in the area. Communities that have been mining the mountains on a small scale for more than 25 years oppose the presence of the mining company, fearing for their livelihoods. And they have paid dearly for it, say community leaders.

Teófilo Acuña, president of a miners' association in the San Lucas mountains, was arrested by the army in April and held for 10 days on what turned out to be trumped-up charges that he was a member of leftist guerrilla groups that operate in the region. "It's no secret that the rebels are there," said Mr Acuña. "But the army doesn't go after the guerrillas. It persecutes the community." The soldiers of the Nueva Granada battalion have publicly told the communities their mission was to protect the interests of Kedahda, said Mr Acuña. The charge of "terrorism" against him was based on the fact that he presided over meetings to oppose Kedahda's presence in the area and because he organised a march to protest at the killing by soldiers of Alejandro Uribe, also a miners' leader, last September.

The military said Mr Uribe was a guerrilla killed in combat. But lawyer Jorge Molano, who represents the miners, said forensic analysis showed he was shot in the back at close range. In October 2006 another community leader was killed by the Nueva Granada battalion, which later claimed his killing was a "military error". War on Want does not blame AngloGold Ashanti directly for the rights abuses in the region. But the organisation's campaign director, Ruth Tanner, said the company had benefited from the army's actions. "The key thing is that the company's presence is fuelling conflict," she said.

Kedahda has applied for mining concessions in 37 municipalities of Nariño province near the border with Ecuador, a focal point of skirmishes between government forces and Farc rebels, according to a report published last month by local rights groups. Those municipalities coincide with areas where civilians have been subjected to "cruel, inhumane and demeaning acts", the report said.

Mike Faessler, Kedahda's director of security, acknowledged that the company had two platoons from Colombia's army's 5th brigade "on loan" to protect an exploration operation in the region because the "security situation is pretty dicey". But he said the firm was unaware of the persecution of community leaders by the military. He said the complaints against AngloGold Ashanti came from "people out there with an agenda against big mining and big business". "There's a perception that because we're in a certain area there's going to be violence but the truth is they are violent areas anyway," he said.

* To read the report and watch a film exposing the reality of Anglo American mining activities in Colombia visit:

Communique to workers and public over the recent ruling in Alabama

By General Secretary of Funtraenergética, Colombia,

30th July 2007

When Sintramienergética-Funtraenergética and the families of our assassinated co-workers decided to seek justice in the United States with the support of steelworkers of that country, we did so with the conviction that there would be a possibility of justice. Because of the impunity which has blanketed the process in Colombia throughout this time, and in the face of immense levels of corruption in the judicial system, we have had no real hopes for an investigation into those who are responsible, intellectually as well as physically for the crime. We were conscious of the political limitations of the US judicial process, but we always believed, and still do, that it is necessary to validate these institutional means rather than confrontation in other forms of protest.

We were pleased with the first ruling of the court which took the case, permitting us to continue on with it, not only because it showed Garry Drummond and his Colombian managers as responsible for the violation of the labor laws of Colombia, of the International Labor Organization pacts and agreements, but also because it meant that they could be held criminally responsible for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes, according to the context in which the assassinations of our co-workers were carried out. But we always kept in mind that the judge had been named by President Bush, and that in his two presidential campaigns, Bush had received strong economic support of Drummond. We began to notice this, when inexplicably, the process was sent to the State Department for consultation into whether the case could damage the "economic interests" of the United States with Colombia, and after months of waiting, the case was sent back without conditions.

With the passing of time, the judge began to refuse witness testimony, new evidence, new witnesses, a fact that was made evident when Rafal García, head of information of the DAS (colombian Administrative Department of Security), sent us a declaration where he said that in the year 2001 he had been present in a meeting between a member of the mercenary group Jorge 40 and Augusto Jiménez, president of Drummond, in a hotel in Valledupar (calling our attention because President Uribe Vélez has said that during this time Augusto Jiménez was outside of the country, when all of the workers had seen him at the mines, a fact corroborated by a "journalist" of El Tiempo). In this meeting, Jiménez brought a briefcase filled with money and the names of the two co-workers Orcasita and Locarno who were to be assassinated. Two weeks later men working for the mercenary Tolemaida murdered them.

In the face of this evidence we were ordered by the court to a "counter-interrogation" to verify if the things Garcia had said were true. Despite that the necessary paperwork for this was sent in April of this year to the Minister of Foreign Relations, at the same time that Drummond sent one to verify the criminal records of our three witnesses, ours was not authorized, despite the efforts we went through to achieve it. It must be emphasized that the government of Uribe Vélez impeded our evidence with all means possible, as Fabio Echeverri Correa, legal counsel of the President has been representative of Drummond Colombia for years. Correa, Garry Drummond and Uribe Vélez were charged with corruption by a court in Florida for illegally taking oil wells from the company Llanos Oil and transferring them to Drummond, in a business involving the Vice President of the United States.

Five months before the trial, one of our witnesses told us that the company leaders were absolutely sure that they would win the trial and because of this they went to him, because everything was already "in order," some days later other persons confirmed to us this same information. The judge was already busy denying new testimony, influencing the jurors, and continuously violating rules of process, to the point of even telling the jurors that if they decided against the company, that she would reject their decision.

Under these pressures, the alternative was to make the public aware of some of this evidence, open a space so that four sub-commissions of the United States Congress could investigate, as they are doing so now, about the North American companies and their criminal activities in our territory, and try to present as much evidence as possible to the jury. Finally, the court ruled against us, despite our efforts, and although we thought they were going to be more intelligent, as this decision just will lengthen the fight, and we are going to take advantage of that.

What we will do now is go to appeals court which will have to take into account all of the evidence, the violations of rules of process, to annul the ruling in order to repeat the case in better judicial conditions for us. What Drummond is not saying is that after years of investigation, the Department of Justice of the United States has initiated a criminal investigation against the mining company not only for the murders of Valmore, Victor Hugo and Gustavo, but also for other criminal activities, and this investigation could produce very important evidence for our civil case.

We want to call to all workers, to the social and labor organizations of Colombia and the world, to rise solidarity with Sintramienergética, to denounce the crimes of Drummond. We ask for an embargo of coal until the murderers of our union brothers are brought to justice, to urge the nationalization of this mine, so it may pass into the hands of the nation, and not in the hands of those who have it now; we will not falter in our goal to the search for truth, justice and reparations for the union movement and the victims of the conflict, generated by the imposition of an economic model of plunder which corrupts, murders, displaces and commits massacres, in order to obtain greater profits at the costs of the lives of millions of human beings.

For our dead, not a minute of silence; an entire life of fighting! Orcasita, Locarno and Soler...

US firm cleared of Colombia murders

27th July 2007

A US jury has decided that an American coal company was not responsible for the killing of three union leaders at a Colombian mine in 2001. The jurors in Alabama on Thursday rejected charges that coal giant Drummond had hired right-wing paramilitary gunman to kill employees and union leaders in La Loma. The case was seen as a test of whether American firms can be held responsible in US courts for alleged misconduct abroad.

There are about 15 similar cases pending in US courts against corporations for alleged human rights abuses committed overseas. The action began in 2001 under an 18th century law which allows foreigners to sue American firms in a US court. Relatives and the union, Sintramienergetica, filed the action under the 218-year-old Alien Tort Claims Act after the slayings.

Brutal slayings

Valmore Locarno, the local union president at Drummond's open surface mine and Victor Orcasita, another union official, were pulled off a company bus and shot to death in March 2001. Locarno's successor, Gustavo Soler, met a similar fate seven months later after also being taken off a bus. Terry Collingsworth, the plaintiffs' lawyer, said they would appeal against the decision. Augusto Jimenez, who headed Drummond's Colombian operations, wiped away tears after the verdict. He declined to comment but the company said the verdict was "a long time coming".

Drummond, one of the world's largest coal-mining companies, said it will continue to co-operate in investigations into the deaths of its three employees.


A paramilitary leader has been charged with Locarno and Orcasita's murders. More than 800 union members have been killed in Colombia in the last six years, making it the world's most dangerous country for workers. Only a few of the killings have been solved.

In Colombia, Stevenson Avila, the president of Sintramienergetica, said the ruling was likely to embolden the paramilitaries. "Our biggest fear right now is that union members will be left vulnerable to assassination,'' he said. Added Avila: "We knew this was becoming a question of state policy, and that America protects its companies, but we held out hope that presenting real, documented evidence of the company's responsibility, that justice would be served."

PM's interest in Latin America easily explained


26th July 2007

On the face of it, Stephen Harper's sudden new fascination with Latin America is baffling. Until February, he expressed no interest in the region. Now, after a six-day swing through Colombia, Chile, Barbados and Haiti, he has declared South America a key foreign policy priority.

The Prime Minister explains his newfound interest in terms of geography and good will. Canada, he says, can act as a kind of third-way model for what he calls the "neighbourhood" - a model that, by eschewing both the two-fisted capitalism of the U.S. and the dirigisme of Venezuela, manages to combine free-market economics with progressive social policies.

In fact, the reasons for Harper's sudden infatuation are far less lofty. Canadian business has re-interested itself in South America. Ergo, so has the Canadian government. This is a classic case of the flag following trade. Colombia is perhaps the best example. Harper may be the first Canadian prime minister to visit that country. But that's only because there was no reason to do so before. Now, with the price of oil high and Calgary-based energy companies active in that country, there is.

The Colombian government is handing out oil concessions helter-skelter. Indeed, just a month before Harper's visit, two Canadian firms were awarded additional contracts worth $19.1 million (U.S.) Canada's Enbridge Inc. is operator and part-owner of a major Colombian pipeline. All are taking advantage of a new royalty regime that, as the magazine Canadian Dimension reported recently, the Canadian International Development Agency helped write.

So it's no wonder that Harper's first stop was Colombia. The government of President Alvaro Uribe, accused by Amnesty International of supporting death squads, is deemed so unsavoury that even the U.S. Congress has refused to ink a trade deal with it. Not so Canada. Harper praised Uribe and promised a Canada-Colombia free trade pact. "When we see a country like Colombia, that has decided it has to address its social, political and economic problems in an integrated manner, that wants to embrace economic freedom, that wants to embrace political democracy and human rights and social development, then we say, `We're there to encourage you,'" Harper said.

Then it was on to Chile, where the Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold is involved in a bitter dispute with locals over plans for an open-pit mine high in the Andes. In Santiago, Harper said he thought Barrick was acting responsibly.

Scotiabank president Richard Waugh was also on hand in Chile. The Canadian bank, which has a long history of involvement in South America, is on a big push in the region. About one-third of its 57,000 employees worldwide are Spanish-speaking.

Even poverty-stricken Haiti has business potential. Canadian firms are prospecting for gold there. As a Canadian entrepreneur told Canadian Press, the business environment has improved since the U.S., with the acquiescence of Canada, effectively removed democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from power in 2004.

In short, it was a pretty standard prime ministerial trip. Jean Chrétien went to China to boost Canadian business interests. Harper went to South America for the same reason. With assets in Latin America worth $96 billion, Canada is the second-largest investor in the region. The Prime Minister's third-way rhetoric, with its implied criticism of the U.S., may play well at home. But down there, he's just following the money.


Doe Run Peru Has Not Started Construction of Sulfuric Acid Plant, Continues to Disregard Peruvian Environmental Laws, Fines Expected to reach $10 Million

-- For immediate release --

31st July 2007

La Oroya, Peru -- The operator of the Metallurgical Complex of La Oroya, Doe Run Peru (DRP), owned by the Renco Group, announced to Bloomberg that it would begin to build a sulfuric-acid treatment plan starting July 26, 2007. Various other sources have released articles indicating that the construction is under way; however, no construction has begun.

The plan to build a treatment facility came as the result of a ruling by the Peruvian government which requires emissions from the lead circuit to be treated. This year DRP has not complied with State mandated Environmental Quality Standards for lead emissions of 0.5 mg/m3 (micrograms per cubic meter). To date the company emits at least twice that amount.

Cresenciano Guzmán, secretary of the Municipal Environmental Commission of La Oroya, was informed that DRP would begin construction of the plant in 15 days. "During the inspection conducted by the Ministry of Energy and Mines from July 20-27, the company engineers showed us a large area where they said the sulfuric-acid treatment plant would be built," Guzmán said.

Miguel Curi, member of the Health Movement of La Oroya, explained, "The sulfuric-acid treatment plant already operating for the zinc circuit is considered by DRP to be brand new. The fact is, it was only renovated. The company is good at selling it's image." To date, the company has not approached the municipal government of La Oroya to serve as an intermediary for contracting the labor to build the new sulfuric-acid plant.

Rosa Amaro, president of the Health Movement of La Oroya, explained that the Federation of the Unemployed of La Oroya has requested to be included in the construction project. If the unemployed are not included in the construction of the plant, they will protest being excluded. "DRP has to win the approval of all of the La Oroya population," said Amaro.

Pedro Barreto, the archbishop of Huancayo and founder of the Roundtable in that state of Junín, spoke with the regional government about it's concerns that DRP did not comply with the Air Quality Standards. "It is about uniting our efforts. We know that the leadership of the state of Junín is willing to have an impact and appeal to the higher levels of government. Today, I spoke with the state Governor Vladimir Huaroc about La Oroya and the Kingsmill Tunnel. Huaroc is committed to Junín's well-being, along with the Roundtable. We are on the move," said Monsignor Barreto.

"In January and February, DRP emitted more than 1.5 m g/m3 at all of the test sites, which indicates it is mathematically impossible for DRP to comply with Peruvian environmental standards this year. There could be a fine that amounts to US $10 million," said Iván La Negra, Chief of Natural Resources and the Environment for the state of Junín.

La Negra also mentioned that DRP had moved some of the emissions testing stations around. The state government has demanded that DRP explain the alteration of federally required monitoring stations to the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

International request for observers to a referendum on the Rio Blanco copper project


30th July 2007

Ladies and Gentlemen: Please receive our cordial greetings from Lima, Peru!

We are contacting you today on behalf of the rural communities in the districts of Carmen de la Frontera, Ayabaca and Pacaipampa, in the region of Piura in northern Peru. These communities are currently being threatened by the impacts of a huge mining project – the Rioblanco copper mine project.

We, Red Muqui and the Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Perú are working in a broad alliance of Peruvian civil society organisations to defend the rights of these rural communities.

The purpose of this letter is to invite you as an international observer to a referendum on the Rioblanco copper mine in Peru. The referendum is going to take place on 16 September 2007 in the districts of Carmen de la Frontera, Ayabaca and Pacaipampa, in the region of Piura, Peru, close the the border with Ecuador.

The referendum will give the farmers' communities the chance to take up their right to participate actively in a decision that will affect their life, their future and their way of living.

Background Peru is a country which is extremely rich in minerals and natural resources. Over the last 15 years, the mining sector has grown enormously, with investments from international mining companies being supported by the government and multinational institutions. This rise in mining activities has lead to economic growth, but also to many conflicts about the scarce resources of land and water between the local rural communities and the big mining enterprises.

The Rioblanco Copper Mine The Rioblanco copper mine is one of the biggest mining projects in Peru and in Latin America. It is an open pit mine project, moving huge amounts of ground, cutting down forests and using dangerous chemicals to extract the minerals. The mine is currently in an exploration phase and is planned to be opened in 2010.

The area of the mine is situated in northern Peru, in the department of Piura, provinces of Huancabamba and Ayabaca. This is a biologically very fragile area where two important rivers have their sources and rainforests being home to many different species of animals and plants would be endangered.

The mine is owned by a Chinese consortium (Zijin Consortium) and is currently in an exploration phase. The Rioblanco copper mine in not the only mining project in the region. Once this pilote project is in implementation, several other mines will most probably follow and turn this region into a mining district of enormous dimensions.

Peruvian and international human rights organisations and environmentalists are worried because of the consecuences the future mine will have on the population, their farming activities, the flora and fauna in the region.

There is a lot of resistance against the mine in the local communities as life in the provinces of San Ignacio and Jaén in the neighbouring department of Cajamarca has already changed due to the presence of the international enterprise and will be subject to substantial changes once the mine will be opened. Several community leaders have been killed during confrontations and Human Rights violations have been taking place.

Organisations involved in the case Various national institutions and organisations are supporting the case:

The Defense Front for Sustainable Development in the North of Peru - Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Perú (in short Frente), is the coordinating body of the local organizations and social movements. The Frente and its members are looking for sustainable development processes in their region and for a peaceful dialogue between the different stakeholders engaged in the conflict.

The Red Muqui, a platform of Peruvian NGOs and civil society organisations, is supporting the local communities as well as the Frente de Defensa in the defense of Human Rights as well as environmental rights. They are working in a broad alliance of Peruvian institutions looking for the respect of Human Rights in extractive industries, more sustainable development and environmental protection.

The Peruvian Obudsman, the Defensoría del Pueblo, has published a report in which it shows evidence that the company does not enjoy the legal permission from the communities to operate on their land. It has also published a report on social conflicts in mining areas in Peru.

International organisations have also looked into the matter and published their findings and recommendations:

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published a report on the rich biodiversity in the natural reserve Santuario Nacional Tabaconas Namballe which is neighbouring the future copper mine. This biodiversity is endangered by the future mine.

The Peru Support Group (UK), with the support of Oxfam GB, have carried out an international investigation to study the probable effects of this mining project. As a result of this investigation, the delegation recommended to abstain from mining activities in this region as it is extremely fragile in terms of biodiversity and Human Rights are being violated by imposing mining activities on the local population.

Misereor (Germany) has sent international journalists to do a documentary video on the case. The video is available on Google Videos on the internet (titled: The Majaz Case).

The Rioblanco case is being supported by various international agencies and institutions, such as Broederlijk Delen (Belgium), Cafod (UK), CATAPA (Belgium), Caritas Germany, Misereor (Germany), Oxfam America, Oxfam GB, 11.11 (Belgium), Peru Support Group (UK) and others.

The local population, represented by the Frente de Defensa and other Peruvian organizations, will be very pleased and obliged if you get involved in the case and act as an international observer during the referendum.

Although the referendum is not a legally binding mechanism in Peru, it will definitely have an impact on the further development of this mining case, as other cases have shown. National and international organisations demand that the communities affected by extractive industries' projects should have the right for previous informed consent and should be involved in the decision on mining projects on their land.

We will be glad to provide you with any additional information. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us:

Javier Jahncke Benavente
Red Muqui
Telf. 0051.1.421 47 47

We thank you in advance for your consideration and are looking forward to receiving your answer.

Yours sincerely,

Javier Jahncke Benavente
Coordinator FEDEPAZ
Member organisation of RED MUQUI




1st August 2007


Rights Action recently led an educational and activist delegation to Guatemala. We took our delegates to the Skye Resources nickel mining affected indigenous communities of eastern Guatemala. The Canadian Pension Plan (amongst many institutional investors) is an investor in Skye.

"...the words of a community leader from Barrio Revolución: "We know that many here say that we are invaders. But we are not invading the land. We are recuperating the land that belongs to us.""

Residents of the Mayan Q'eqchi' community of La Paz (municipality of Panzos, department of Alta Verapaz) are facing yet another eviction, which also threatens neighbouring community Lote 8, along with both Barrio Revolución and Barrio La Unión of the municipality of El Estor, department of Izabal. The eviction order, filed in court case number 1745 in Cobán, was originally scheduled to take place on June 27, 2007; however, due to a substitution of the regional public prosecutor, the eviction has been rescheduled for August. While the judicial system has yet to issue an official notification of the date, local organizations indicate that August 14th is currently being considered.

The requested eviction order is based on the highly contested Cahaboncito Norte land title covering the aforementioned indigenous Q'eqchi' communities who have struggled for decades for the recognition of their ancestral land rights in the region. While the company has repeatedly refused to reveal its purported land documentation to communities, Skye Resources' claim to the land is based on the land rights granted to the International Nickel Company (INCO) by a repressive military dictatorship in the 1960s. Many community members echo the words of a community leader from Barrio Revolución: "We know that many here say that we are invaders. But we are not invading the land. We are recuperating the land that belongs to us."

The previous widely denounced evictions of January 2007 saw hundreds of heavily armed police officers and soldiers surround the communities, while Skye Resources employees dismantled, destroyed and/or burned the homes of hundreds of indigenous Q'eqchi' families in five communities. (Rights Action has extensive information concerning the January 2007 forced and illegal evictions -

Since January, the communities have continued to rebuild their houses and communities, tend to their crops, and struggle for their ancestral rights to the land. Extremely alarmed at the prospect of the impending order, community leaders have asked for international support for their attempt to halt the evictions. Add your voice to those who are calling on Skye Resources to stop the planned evictions of La Paz and neighbouring communities. Send urgent emails, phone calls and faxes to:


* Ian Austin, CEO, Skye Resources,, tel:
604-602-9500, fax: 604-602-9510
* Kenneth Cook, Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala,,


* Lic. Oscar Berger Perdomo, President of the Republic of Guatemala,, ,, fax: 502-22383579
* Adela de Torrtebiarte, Minister of the Interior,

* Lic. Juan Luis Florido, Attorney General,,
fax: 502-22512218
* Dr. Sergio Fernando Morales Alvarado, Guatemalan Human Rights Attorney's
Office (PDH),, fax: 502-77755475

* Your local & national media
* Your local & national governmental representatives
* Defensoria Q'eqchi',


WHAT TO DO: Same as always.

Financially support the indigenous organizations leading the struggle for development, the environment and mining company accountability in Guatemala and Honduras,

Denounce to your politicians, media, and companies and investors in Canada and the US, about the enviro- and human rights violations caused by North American mining companies in Guatemala and Honduras...

Let them know that UNJUST ENRICHMENT will not stand...

TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: to support community and enviro-defense work of COPINH and other grassroots groups in Honduras, make check payable to "Rights Action" and mail to: UNITED STATES: Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887; CANADA: 509 St.Clair Ave W, box73527, Toronto ON, M6C-1C0. CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS:

YES, ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE: Rights Action, along with other organizers, are now working to prepare for the III Americas Social Forum (FSA-Guatemala) to be held in Guatemala City, October 7-12, 2008. This event is expected to attract approximately 30,000 people. MORE INFORMATION - FSA-Guatemala:

LINKS: Gold Mine Worsens Social Tensions San Miguel Ixtahuacán. San Marcos, Guatemala July 30, 2007


Copper Miners' Strike May Set a Precedent for Labour Rights

By Daniela Estrada, IPS

30th July 2007

SANTIAGO - The 35-day strike by roughly half the 28,000 subcontracted workers at Chile's state National Copper Corporation (CODELCO) may set a precedent for labour rights in the country, experts say. This Monday "the basis of an agreement," which must be ratified by all the striking workers, was reportedly reached between the company and strike leaders. The conflict broke out on Jun. 25, and the Chilean Catholic Church's bishops' conference has acted as a mediator.

CODELCO is the world's largest copper producer, extracting 1.78 million tons of refined copper in 2006, and is the main contributor to Chile's state coffers. About 17,000 people are employed directly by CODELCO, while there are more than 28,000 contracted and subcontracted workers.

On Monday, contracted and subcontracted CODELCO workers blocked the road from the city of Calama, in the northern Antofagasta region, to the Chuquicamata mine. Two people were injured and 18 subcontracted workers were arrested.

The Public Ministry (office of the public prosecutor) appointed a special prosecutor to investigate this and other acts of violence that have taken place in the context of the strike, at the request of the executive president of CODELCO, José Pablo Arellano, who on Friday Jul. 27 reported losses of about 40 million dollars due to damages and lost production.

The striking workers are demanding the same wages for the same work as employees working directly for CODELCO. According to articles in the press, subcontracted workers earn between 183,000 pesos (nearly 400 dollars) and 1.7 million pesos (over 3,000 dollars) per month, depending on their job description. The core issue is labour discrimination within the company, permitted by loopholes in the law on subcontracting or outsourcing, which entered into force in January this year, Martín Pascual, an economist with the Chilean Labour Observatory (OLAB), of which the non-governmental Centre for National Alternative Development Studies (CENDA), Fundación Sol and Oxfam are members, told IPS.

"This law allows workers to be subcontracted within the company's primary area of activity, which permits a situation to arise where direct company employees are earning three times as much as subcontracted workers doing the same job," said Pascual. "The CODELCO conflict is indicative of what could happen in every other economic activity. That's why business owners are so concerned about it," said Pascual, referring mainly to the future of collective bargaining, which at present is restricted to each individual company and is not allowed between companies or across productive sectors.

Since inter-company bargaining is not permitted by Chilean law, a number of analysts have pointed out that the negotiations between CODELCO and the subcontracted workers is not actually legal and could set a "bad precedent." Tension among business associations has grown because the government of President Michelle Bachelet has announced it will send a draft law to Congress to widen the scope of collective bargaining and increase unionisation.

In 2006, 8.6 percent of salaried workers had the benefit of collective bargaining, while the unionisation rate was 12.9 percent for men and 7.5 percent for women. In the mining sector, however, over 90 percent of employees were unionised.

"The mining companies are on the alert for the repercussions (of the CODELCO strike). In the rest of the marketplace, this conflict and others which have emerged recently are seen as organised pressure to reduce subcontracting and change the rules of collective bargaining," said Rosanna Costa, of the non-governmental Freedom and Development Institute, linked to the rightwing opposition alliance.

The economist said in an opinion column published this Monday by the newspaper El Mercurio that "investment decisions (meaning how much to invest, particularly in labour) are becoming increasingly pessimistic because of expectations about future legal reforms, affecting collective bargaining, that have been announced."

On Jul. 23 the state mining company reached an agreement with nearly half the subcontracted workers, but the rest, who belong to the Confederation of Copper Workers (CTC) led by Cristián Cuevas and linked to the Communist Party, were not satisfied with the deal. The agreement offered an immediate bonus of 450,000 pesos (900 dollars) and changed the terms of the contracts with contracting firms so that subcontracted workers would get productivity bonuses, health insurance and other benefits.

But this opened up a further debating front, since it was not clear who would pay for the benefits, CODELCO or the contracting firms, which have been criticised for not participating in the conflict negotiations.

On Jul. 26, the worst disturbances since the beginning of the strike took place in the Andina and El Teniente divisions of CODELCO, two of the five divisions operated by the company.

Subcontracted strikers hurled rocks at buses transporting workers to El Teniente, who abandoned the attempt to get to the mine because it was too dangerous and demanded greater security. At Andina, masked protesters derailed a train carrying copper concentrate, which spilled half a tonne of its freight. CODELCO's El Salvador mine has been shut down throughout the strike, because of picketing by strikers.

President Bachelet deplored the violence and backed the management of CODELCO, although analysts say that the conflict has again shown up differences within the centre-left Coalition for Democracy which has been in government since 1990. According to press reports, different cabinet ministers have clashed over their support for opposite sides.

The escalating violence moved the Chilean Catholic Church to issue a statement on Jul. 18 which was sympathetic to the workers' position.

The Episcopal Conference's declaration, "Fundamental Challenges in Recent Labour Conflicts," said that subcontracting or outsourcing has become a widely-used mechanism to drive labour costs down and boost the productivity of companies, to the detriment of working conditions and equal pay. Unfortunately, under this regime, working conditions are often neither decent nor just, the statement said. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, for his part, said on Jul. 25 that state companies "should set an example" on labour issues.

High international copper prices, driven mainly by the huge demand from China, have brought CODELCO enormous profits in recent years. In 2002 sales reached 3.5 billion dollars while in 2006 they were worth more than 17 billion dollars, contributing 8.3 billion dollars to Chile's state coffers. At present 40 percent of CODELCO's copper is exported to Asia, 33 percent to Europe, 17 percent to North America and 10 percent to South America.


Calchaquí Valley Assembly rejects metals mining activities and demands withdrawal of companies

Cachi, Salta, Argentina

1st August 2007

Residents of the localities within the Calchaquí Valley of Salta, in the northwest of Argentina, met in the municipal hall in the town of Cachí, to inform themselves about uranium mining projects in their valley, in the departments of Cachí and San Carlos. The Autoconvocados of the Calchaquí Valley in Defense of Life pronounced themselves categorically against contaminative metals mining and mining of uranium, and declared themselves to be in permanent mobilization until the mining companies withdraw from the zone. Some four hundred persons participated in the assembly, among them residents of Cachí, Neighbors of Quipón, the Environmentalist Nature Foundation of Cachí, Autoconvocados of Cafayate, San Carlos, Angastaco, Molinos and Cachí, members of the ecologist group Pro-Eco from Tucumán, Calchaquí Gathering, United Communities of Molinos, representatives of Bodega Colomé, councilpersons from the departments of Cachi, congressperson Liliana Guitián and the mayor of Cachí, Fanny Flores. A neighbor of Quipón made available to the community the Environmental Impact Reports of the mining exploration project Mina Don Otto, in the department of San Carlos, and the prospecting operations in the Tin-Tin range. The assembly rejected these reports for being very unprofessional and for having many irregularities. The neighbors said that they have not been informed nor consulted in proper time or manner by the companies or government regarding the prospecting and exploration. The Municipal Council of Cachí presented a report of their work of study and research which will form the base for a resolution and municipal ordinance to prohibit all large-scale metals and uranium mining projects in territories of the department, as they consider these activities contaminative. The council declared as a priority the economic activities which already exist in the area, such as tourism, agriculture and artisan crafts. The members of the Assembly signed their support to these resolutions. By unanimous decision, the Calchaquí Valley decided to: Pronounce themselves in favor of Life and Regional Economies
Pronounce the rejection of all contaminant mining and all uranium mining.
Declare themselves in Permanent Assembly until the withdrawal of mining companies from the zone.
Name themselves as Autoconvocados of the Calchaquí Valley In Defense of Life and Against Contaminant Metals Mining.


Comunicado a los trabajadores y a la opinión pública sobre el reciente fallo en Alabama

Secretaria General de Funtraenergetica, Colombia

Julio 30 de 2007

Cuando Sintramienergética-Funtraenergetica y los familiares de los compañeros asesinados, decidimos demandar en Estados Unidos con el apoyo de los trabajadores del Acero de esa nación, lo hicimos convencidos de que habría una posibilidad de justicia, pues la impunidad ha cubierto el proceso en Colombia durante todo el tiempo y ante la gigantesca corrupción del aparato judicial no teníamos ningún tipo de esperanza en una investigación que diera con los responsables intelectuales y materiales del hecho, éramos concientes de las limitaciones políticas del aparato judicial gringo, pero siempre creímos (y aún lo hacemos) que intentarían validar estas vías institucionales en vez de confrontar otras formas de protesta.

Vimos con buenos ojos el primer fallo de la magistrada que conoció el caso y que nos permitió seguir con é, no solo porque señalo como responsables a Garry Drummond y su gerentes Colombianos, de la violación a la Ley laboral de Colombia, de los Pactos y Convenios de OIT, sino también haciéndolos responsables penalmente por la comisión de delitos de lesa humanidad y crímenes de guerra, como fueron calificados en esa providencia los asesinatos de estos compañeros. Pero siempre tuvimos en cuenta que esa magistrada había sido nombrada por el Presidente Bush, que en sus dos campañas a la presidencia este recibió un fuerte apoyo económico de la Drummond y eso comenzó a notarse cuando inexplicablemente se envió el proceso a consulta con el Departamento de Estado, pues esta causa podría lesionar los "intereses económicos" de Estados Unidos en Colombia, y luego de meses de espera fue devuelto sin ningún condicionamiento.

Con el transcurrir del tiempo comenzaron a negarnos testigos, nuevas pruebas, nuevos testimonios etc., hecho que se hizo evidente cuando Rafal García, jefe de informática del DAS, nos entregó una declaración donde decía que en el año 2001 (por eso llama la atención que el presidente Uribe Vélez haya dicho que en esa época Augusto Jiménez estaba fuera del país, cuando todo los trabajadores lo vieron en la mina, hecho del que hace eco un "periodista" del El tiempo) el había estado presente en una reunión entre el delegado del mercenario Jorge 40 y Augusto Jiménez presidente de la Drummond, en un Hotel de Valledupar, en esta reunión Jiménez entregó una maletín lleno de dinero y los nombres de los dos compañeros Orcasita y Locarno para que fueran asesinados, dos semanas después hombres al mando del mercenario Tolemaida los ultimaron; ante esta prueba contundente se nos obligó a un "contra interrogatorio" para verificar si era cierto lo que decía García; a pesar de que el exhorto rogatorio fue enviado en Abril de este año al Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, en conjunto con uno que envió la Drummond para averiguar sobre los antecedentes penales de tres de nuestros testigos, el nuestro no fue autorizado a pesar de los ingentes esfuerzos que realizamos para lograrlo, hay que resaltar que el gobierno de Uribe Vélez impidió por todos los medios esta prueba, pues el señor Fabio Echeverri Correa asesor presidencial del Presidente ha sido por muchos años representante de la Drummond en Colombia, él, Garry Drummond y Uribe Vélez fueron demandados por corrupción en el Tribual de Florida por quitarle ilegalmente unos pozos de Petróleo a la compañía Llanos Oil y transferirlos a la Drummond, en u negocio donde "suena" el Vicepresidente de Estados Unidos.

Cinco meses antes del Juicio uno de nuestros testigos nos contó que los directivos de la compañía estaban absolutamente seguros de que ganaban el Juicio y por eso iban a el, porque ya todo estaba "cuadrado", días antes otras personas nos confirmaron esa misma información. Ya en el juicio la magistrada se dedico a negar nuevos testimonios, influir a los jurados, violar continuamente la ley procesal e incluso llego a decirles a los jurados que si ellos fallaban en contra de la compañía ella rechazaba el fallo. Ante estas presiones la alterativa fue dar a conocer a la opinión pública parte de las pruebas, abrir un espacio para que 4 subcomisiones del Congreso de Estados Unidos investigaran, como lo están haciendo ahora, las compañías gringas y sus actividades criminales en nuestro territorio y tratar de darle la mayor cantidad de elementos al jurado. Finalmente el fallo de primera instancia fue adverso a pesar de nuestros esfuerzos y aunque pensábamos que iban a ser mas inteligentes, pues esa decisión alarga la pelea y nosotros lo vamos a aprovechar, lo que ahora sigue es ir a un tribunal de apelaciones que tendrá que tener en cuenta las pruebas, las violaciones a la ley procesal y anular el juicio para repetirlo en mejores condiciones probatorias para nosotros. Lo que no dicen los áulicos de la Drummond es que después de años de investigación el Departamento de Justicia de Estados Unidos inicio una investigación criminal contra la compañía minera no solo por los asesinatos de Valmore, Víctor Hugo y Gustavo, también por otras actividades criminales, de esta investigación pueden resultar datos muy importantes para el juicio civil.

Queremos llamar a todos los trabajadores, a las organizaciones sociales y sindicales de Colombia y el mundo, para que se impulse la solidaridad con Sintramienergética, se denuncie los crímenes de la Drummond, se solicite embargos del carbón hasta que se aclare el asesinato de los sindicalistas, se exija la nacionalización de esa mina, para que ella pase a manos de la nación y no de los que ahora la tienen; no debemos cejar en nuestro empeño en la búsqueda de la verdad, la justicia y la reparación para el movimiento sindical y las victimas del conflicto, generado por la imposición de un modelo económico de saqueo que corrompe, asesina, desplaza y masacra, para obtener las mayores ganancias a costa de la vida de millones de seres humanos.

Por nuestros muertos ni un minuto de silencio, toda una vida de combate!, Orcasita, Locarno y Soler... presentes, presentes!

Fallo que absuelve a Drummond por supuestos nexos con 'paras' será apelado

Julio 26 de 2007

Diario El Tiempo, Colombia -

Daniel Kovalik, abogado que representó al sindicato colombiano, dijo que si el jurado hubiera conocido toda la evidencia, el resultado habría sido diferente. Se refería al testimonio del ex jefe de informática del DAS Rafael García, que aparece en el expediente, pero no se oficializó. Él dijo que vio al gerente de la carbonera entregarle dinero a 'Jorge 40' para asesinar a los sindicalistas Valmoré Locarno, Víctor Hugo Orcasita y Gustavo Soler Mora.

García - el único testigo presencial - cambió la fecha de los supuestos hechos, luego de que el presidente de Drummond en Colombia, Augusto Jiménez, demostró que no estaba en el país para ese entonces. Los otros testigos - Eduin Guzmán, ex militar y desmovilizado; Isnardo Ropero, vigilante, y George Pirce, ex trabajador de Drummond - coinciden en el apoyo a 'paras', pero no les consta directamente la intervención del ejecutivo en el asesinato.

El fiscal colombiano que debía autorizar el testimonio oficial de García devolvió los documentos por estar legalmente incompletos. "Creemos que ni al gobierno de Colombia ni al de E.U. les interesaba que García testificará contra la Drummond", puntualizó Kovalik.

El proceso tardó menos de un mes

El juicio civil contra Drummond, una de las más grandes carboneras, fue evacuado en 18 días por una corte de Alabama (E.U.). El jueves hacia las 2 de la tarde, 10 jueces de conciencia de la ciudad de Birmingham resolvieron la absolución. La multinacional y su presidente en Colombia eran acusados de patrocinar económica y logísticamente a 'paras' del Cesar -sede de su explotación minera en el país- y de ser responsables del asesinato de los tres líderes sindicales de la empresa mencionados anteriormente.

Según las investigaciones, Locarno, Orcasita y Soler Mora fueron baleados en el 2004 por hombres al mando de Rodrigo Tovar Pupo, alias 'Jorge 40', y por un ex militar conocido como 'Tolemaida'. Pero los jurados no hallaron conexión entre el triple homicidio y la multinacional. Por eso, tampoco accedieron a las pretensiones económicas de los abogados de las familias de los sindicalistas.

Aunque la cifra de la indemnización que exigían nunca fue oficializada, se calcula que podría equivaler a la mitad de las utilidades obtenidas por la empresa en el 2006: 166 mil millones de pesos. "Luego de 5 años se demuestra que los cargos en contra de nuestra compañía y del presidente Jiménez, así como las acusaciones en contra de nuestros empleados, eran falsos", le dijo ayer a EL TIEMPO un vocero de la Drummond.

Así va el caso en Colombia

La Fiscalía ha encontrado evidencias para investigar a tres personas por el crimen de los sindicalistas de la Drummond. En marzo pasado vinculó a los ex jefes paramilitares 'Jorge 40' y 'Tolemaida', y hace dos semanas hizo lo propio con un ex jefe de seguridad de una empresa que le prestaba servicios a la carbonera y que hacía inteligencia para las Auc.

Según Javier Ernesto Ochoa, ex 'para' condenado a 31 años y hoy testigo clave, el crimen fue ordenado por un hombre que se quería quedar con un jugoso contrato para proveer la alimentación de los trabajadores y nada tuvieron que ver los directivos de la Drummond.

Estos son los testigos que usaron contra la carbonera

Rafael García, ex jefe de informática del DAS
Eduin Guzmán, ex militar y desmovilizado de las Auc
Isnardo Ropero, vigilante de casas en Valledupar
George Pirce, ex trabajador de la Drummond



Movimiento por la Salud de La Oroya (MOSAO) y Mesa Técnica


La empresa Doe Run Perú (DRP), operadora del antiguo Complejo Metalúrgico de La Oroya y perteneciente al grupo norteamericano Renco, todavía no inicia, en realidad, la construcción de su nueva planta de ácido sulfúrico correspondiente al circuito de plomo, contradiciendo las numerosas notas de prensa, en inglés y castellano, publicadas la semana pasada al respecto. Lo que es más preocupante, todo indica que la empresa no podría cumplir este año con los Estándares de Calidad Ambiental (ECA) para el plomo, de 0.5 ug/m3 (microgramos por metro cúbico), pues a la fecha está duplicándolos.

Cresenciano Guzmán, secretario técnico de la Comisión Ambiental Municipal (CAM) de la municipalidad provincial de Yauli-La Oroya, declaró que DRP les informó que en 15 días empezarán el movimiento de tierras para la construcción de la nueva planta de ácido sulfúrico. "Durante la fiscalización de OSINERGMIN (a DRP), entre el 20 y 27 de julio, los ingenieros de la empresa nos hicieron ver un área amplia y nos dijeron que ahí se construirá la planta de ácido sulfúrico", remató Guzmán. Por su parte, Miguel Curi, miembro del Movimiento por la Salud de La Oroya (MOSAO) explicó: "La planta de ácido sulfúrico (correspondiente al circuito) de zinc es considerada por DRP como nueva, cuando sólo ha sido repotenciada. La empresa es muy hábil para vender su imagen". A la fecha, la empresa ha tenido un acercamiento con el municipio provincial de Yauli-La Oroya para que este intermedie en la contratación de personal para la construcción de la nueva planta de ácido sulfúrico, reveló Curi.

Por su parte, Rosa Amaro, presidenta del MOSAO, señaló que la Federación de desocupados de La Oroya ha solicitado que se contrate a personas de la zona para las obras de la planta, y que debido a que todavía no hay avances en ese sentido, los desocupados volverán a marchar, para ser incluidos en labores de excavación. "Ellos (la empresa DRP) tienen que ganarse la credibilidad de toda la población", agregó Amaro.

De otro lado, monseñor Pedro Barreto, arzobispo de Huancayo y fundador de la Mesa de Diálogo de Junín, declaró que en el gobierno regional de Junín hay gran preocupación porque temen que DRP no logre cumplir este año con los ECA para el plomo. "Se trata de aunar esfuerzos, asumiendo la región Junín el liderazgo, para ser contundentes y llegar a los niveles más altos del gobierno. Hoy hablé con el presidente regional, Vladimir Huaroc, sobre la situación de La Oroya y el túnel Kingsmill. Él (Huároc) está muy comprometido hacia fuera de Junín. Junto a la Mesa de Diálogo de Junín estamos en una ofensiva en este campo", subrayó el monseñor Barreto.

Iván La Negra, gerente de recursos naturales y medio ambiente de la región Junín, precisó que las mismas cifras de DRP muestran que las emisiones de la empresa están por encima del ECA para el plomo (0.5 ug/ m3), pues la media para este primer semestre en las cuatro estaciones de monitoreo de calidad de aire es de 1ug/m3. "En enero y febrero la DRP estuvo por encima de 1.5 ug/m3 para todas las estaciones, por lo cual es materialmente imposible cumplir este año con los ECA para plomo. Puede haber una sanción efectiva que llega a US 10 millones". La Negra agregó que algunas estaciones han sido cambiadas de lugar por DRP, por lo cual el gobierno regional ha pedido explicaciones a OSINERGMIN.

Solicitan observadores internacionales para consulta popular por el proyecto minero Río Blanco, Perú

Lima, Julio de 2007

Estimadas Señoras, Estimados Señores:

Un cordial saludo desde Lima, Perú, de parte de Javier Jahncke, miembro de Fedepaz, entidad que actualmente asume la coordinación de la Red Muqui, un colectivo de 20 instituciones de nivel nacional, dedicadas a la promoción y defensa de los derechos de las comunidades y poblaciones afectadas por las actividades mineras y minero-metalúrgicas.

La Red Muqui actualmente acompaña a las poblaciones de las provincias de Huancabamba y Ayabaca en la Región Piura, así como las provincias de San Ignacio y Jaén en la región Cajamarca, que se encuentran representadas por sus autoridades y representantes en el Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Perú (FDSFNP), desde octubre del año 2005, año de su formación.

Este esfuerzo organizativo se ha dado con el objetivo de buscar una salida dialogada, justa y pacífica, respetando los cauces formales, al conflicto ocasionado por la imposición de la actividad minera en los territorios de sus localidades, ricas en biodiversidad y tradicionalmente dedicadas a la actividad agropecuaria como modelo de desarrollo.

La Red Muqui y otros colectivos y organizaciones nacionales e internacionales, ante la solicitud del FDSFNP, forman parte del equipo técnico de dicho Frente.

Las poblaciones de las cuatro provincias se oponen a la realización de actividades mineras en cabeceras de cuenca y zonas de ecosistemas frágiles, como es el caso del Proyecto minero Río Blanco; donde además se han violentado derechos fundamentales como el derecho a la propiedad. Es por ello que las comunidades campesinas de Segunda y Cajas (Huancabamba) y Yanta (Ayabaca), han presentado denuncias penales contra el Gerente General, Accionistas y Funcionarios de la empresa británico-china Minera Majaz por el delito de usurpación. Ambas comunidades han reiterado su negativa a la explotación minera en sus localidades.

Con el objetivo de lograr una salida dialogada, es que durante el año 2006, la población organizada solicitó a diferentes entes del Estado, que se conforme un espacio de diálogo. Es así como se conformó una Mesa de Diálogo con la PCM, el MEM, el MININTER y la Defensoría del Pueblo, que buscaba lograr que el Gobierno Central tome medidas frente a la presencia ilegal de la empresa Minera Majaz en sus localidades y que se investiguen las violaciones de derechos humanos perpetradas por la empresa que a la fecha han ocasionado la muerte de dos campesinos, numerosos heridos de gravedad e incluso personas torturadas por las fuerzas del orden.

Fruto del esfuerzo de diálogo impulsado por la población organizada, se conformó una comisión en la que participaron los ya citados entes del Estado, con el apoyo de la Iglesia Católica y la Sociedad Civil. Esta comisión constató -in situ- las continuas violaciones de derechos ocasionadas por la empresa minera a las poblaciones de la zona. Asimismo, en el proceso de diálogo iniciado, se solicitó formalmente a la Defensoría del Pueblo que se pronuncie sobre la ilegal presencia de la empresa Minera Majaz en los territorios de las Comunidades Campesinas de Segunda y Cajas (Huancabamba) y Yanta (Ayabaca), lo que finalmente realizó mediente el Informe 001-2006, a finales del año 2006, confirmando la ilegal presencia de la empresa minera.

Este proceso se frustró, puesto que, pese a los avances el Gobierno Central no había la voluntad de continuar con el proceso de diálogo, desconociendo la representatividad del Frente y buscando tener un trato directo con las comunidades a fin de iniciar una negociación para el inicio de la actividad minera.

Pese a ello, la población organizada mantuvo su interés en logar una solución pacífica, reiterando su pedido de diálogo al gobierno del presidente Alan García. Es por ello que en Diciembre del 2006 se mantuvo reuniones con el MEM, MININTER y PCM. Las nuevas autoridades mostraron una actitud hostil e inquisidora, reacios a dialogar con el Frente. Pese a ello se acordó reiniciar el proceso el Enero en Piura. Sin embargo, pese a los esfuerzos por retomar el diálogo, el MEM no dio ninguna respuesta hasta el día de hoy.

Esta situación demuestra que las nuevas autoridades, no tienen la voluntad de continuar el proceso, puesto que apoyan la realización del proyecto, como lo han corroborado las declaraciones del Presidente de la República en Piura, apoyado el proyecto minero Río Blanco de la empresa Minera Majaz, sin medir las consecuencias sociales, ambientales y económicas que ello tiene para las localidades de Huancabamba, Ayabaca, Jaén y San Ignacio, y en general para toda la región Piura, pues las repercusiones ambientales, como ha estimado el Informe de la delegación del Peru Support Group que vino al Perú, podrían ser tales, ya que la empresa Minera Majaz promueve la realización de un "distrito minero" en la zona, es decir no una mina sino un conjunto de ellas, que incluye la posibilidad de otros proyecto mineros de otras empresas aledañas a las concesiones de Minera Majaz.

En el caso Río Blanco se conjugan una serie de factores que tienen implicancias de carácter nacional:

- La relación entre el desarrollo nacional y el desarrollo regional y local;

- En el proceso de descentralización, que instancias son responsables de la toma de decisiones;

- Que el INACC otorga concesiones sin tomar en cuenta Planes de Desarrollo y de Ordenamiento Territorial, cabeceras de cuenca, ecosistemas frágiles, reservas de biodiversidad, entre otros.

- En el procedimiento minero, no hay una entidad responsable de revisar como es que las empresas realizan su relacionamiento con las comunidades campesinas y poblaciones en zonas de influencia minera.

- La flexibilización de los requisitos para la exploración minera, que permiten ahora realizar actividades sin que el MEM se pronuncie sobre sus impactos.

- El hecho que el MEM mantenga un doble rol, como promotor de la inversión en minería y a la vez autoridad ambiental en el sector.

Todo ello convierte al caso Río Blanco en un caso emblemático que permitirá incidir en la opinión pública para lograr cambios sustanciales en la normatividad y en las políticas públicas que actualmente privilegian un modelo primario exportador en nuestro país.

Pese al cierre de los espacios de diálogo con el Gobierno, la población y sus autoridades tienen abiertos caminos de solución pacífica establecidos en la Constitución y la normatividad vigente, que permiten que la población participe de manera directa, voluntaria e informada en las decisiones que puedan afectar su vida, su futuro y el modelo de desarrollo de sus localidades. Es en ese sentido que, el FDSFNP, conjuntamente con las Municipalidades Distritales de Carmen de la Frontera y Pacaipampa y la Provincial de Ayabaca han decidido acudir al mecanismo de Consulta Vecinal, recogiendo el pedido de las Comunidades Campesinas y poblaciones de dichas localidades.

Nos dirigimos a ustedes para conocer si estarían en disposición de participar como observadores en el proceso de consulta que ha sido convocado en los distritos de Carmen de la Frontera, Ayabaca y Pacaipampa, pertenecientes a la Región Piura, para el día 16 de setiembre del 2007.

Las poblaciones convocadas en el Frente por el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Frontera Norte del Perú, estarían muy reconocidas de contar con el apoyo objetivo y transparente de una institución del prestigio de la de ustedes.

Estaremos al tanto de cualquier información adicional que deseen obtener, y de las formalidades que sean necesarias seguir para hacer posible nuestra solicitud.

Agradecemos desde ya la gentileza de recibir nuestra solicitud y quedamos a la espera de vuestra comunicación.

Para cualquier comunicación nos pueden contactar a este correo electrónico: o al telefax: 4214747 - 4214730.

Atentamente, Javier Jahncke Benavente
Miembro de la Red Muqui
Coordinador del Grupo de Apoyo de la Red Muqui para el caso Majaz


TRABAJO-CHILE: La huelga del cobre deja huella

Por Daniela Estrada

SANTIAGO, 30 jul 2007 (IPS) - La huelga que mantienen desde hace 35 días casi la mitad de los 28.000 trabajadores tercerizados de la estatal Corporación Nacional del Cobre (Codelco) puede marcar un precedente en materia de derechos laborales en el país y cambiar prácticas de negociación, según expertos.

Este lunes se informó que la dirección de la firma y los dirigentes sindicales habían llegado a "un principio de acuerdo", que deberá ser ratificado por todos los trabajadores en huelga. La Conferencia Episcopal de la Iglesia Católica chilena ha mediado en este conflicto iniciado el 25 de junio.

Codelco es el principal productor de cobre del mundo, con casi 1,8 millones de toneladas de este metal fino en 2006, y responsable de la mayor parte de los ingresos del fisco de Chile. Los empleados directos de la minera suman cerca de 17.000, mientras que los contratistas y subcontratistas (tercerizados) superan los 28.000.

Trabajadores tercerizados de Codelco bloquearon este lunes la ruta que une la ciudad de Calama, región de Antofagasta, y la mina de Chuquicamata, ubicada 1.650 kilómetros al norte de Santiago, incidente que terminó con dos heridos y 18 empleados detenidos.

Paralelamente, el Ministerio Público designó un fiscal especial para investigar éste y otros actos de violencia registrados en el marco de la huelga, a petición del presidente ejecutivo de la firma minera, José Pablo Arellano, quien el viernes pasado contabilizaba pérdidas por concepto de daños y merma en la producción cercanas a los 40 millones de dólares.

Los trabajadores movilizados exigen que se les pague el mismo salario que los empleados contratados directamente por Codelco que hacen la misma labor. Según notas de prensa, los tercerizados ganan entre 183.000 (casi 400 dólares ) y 1,7 millones de pesos (más de 3.000 dólares), dependiendo de sus funciones. El núcleo del problema radica en la discriminación laboral que se produce al interior de la cuprífera, avalada por los vacíos existentes en la ley de Subcontratación, que entró en vigor en enero de este año, indicó a IPS Martín Pascual, profesional del Observatorio Laboral Chile, integrado por las organizaciones no gubernamentales Cenda, Fundación Sol y Oxfam.

"(La norma) permite la subcontratación de trabajadores en el giro principal de la empresa, lo que da pie para que existan empleados de planta ganando tres veces más que tercerizados en la misma labor", explicó a IPS Martín Pascual, economista del Centro de Estudios Naciones de Desarrollo Alternativo (Cenda).

"El conflicto en Codelco es emblemático respecto de lo que puede ocurrir en el resto de las actividades económicas. Por eso el empresariado está tan preocupado", señaló Pascual, quien se refiere principalmente al futuro de la negociación colectiva, que hoy se restringe a cada firma, dado que está prohibida entre empresas y sectores productivos.

Como la negociación "interempresas" no está permitida en la legislación chilena, analistas han advertido que la negociación que lleva a cabo la cuprífera con los trabajadores tercerizados está al margen de las normas y podría convertirse en un "mal precedente". La tensión entre las asociaciones empresariales ha aumentado producto de que el gobierno de la presidenta Michelle Bachelet anunció que enviará un proyecto al parlamento para ampliar la negociación colectiva y aumentar la sindicalización.

La negociación colectiva en 2006 alcanzó una cobertura de 8,6 por ciento del trabajo asalariado, mientras que la tasa de sindicalización fue de 12,9 por ciento entre los hombres y 7,5 por ciento entre las mujeres. En el caso de la minería, ésta se eleva a 90 por ciento de los empleados.

"La minería está alerta a las repercusiones (de la huelga en Codelco). Para el resto del mercado, éste y otros conflictos surgidos en el último tiempo se leen como presiones organizadas para reducir la subcontratación y modificar el ámbito de la negociación colectiva", señaló Rossana Costa, del no gubernamental Instituto Libertad y Desarrollo, ligado a la oposición derechista.

La economista agregó en un columna de opinión, publicada este lunes en el diario El Mercurio, que "las decisiones de inversión (referidas a cuánto invertir y a si hacerlo con mayor o menor intensidad en mano de obra) incorporan con creciente pesimismo las expectativas sobre futuras reformas legales anunciadas en materia de negociación colectiva". La minera estatal llegó el lunes 23 de este mes a un acuerdo con cerca de la mitad de los trabajadores subcontratados, pero los restantes, agrupados en la Confederación de Trabajadores del Cobre (CTC), liderados por Cristián Cuevas, ligado al Partido Comunista, consideraron insuficiente la propuesta.

El arreglo consistió en la entrega de un bono inmediato de 450.000 pesos (unos 900 dólares) y el cambio en las bases de las licitaciones con las empresas contratistas con el objeto de que los tercerizados obtengan bonos de productividad, seguros de salud y otros beneficios.

Pero esta salida abrió un nuevo flanco de debate, dado que no está claro quién financiará los beneficios, si Codelco o las empresas contratistas o subcontratistas, que han sido criticadas por no involucrarse en el diferendo laboral.

Los más graves incidentes desde el inicio de las movilizaciones se registraron el jueves en Andina y El Teniente, dos de las cinco divisiones de la minera ubicadas en el centro y norte del país. En la ocasión, los tercerizados bloquearon caminos, se enfrentaron violentamente contra carabineros (policía uniformada) y lanzaron piedras contra autobuses que transportaban a trabajadores contratados, quienes exigieron mayor seguridad para retornar a sus labores.

En la división Andina, situada a 80 kilómetros al nordeste de Santiago, encapuchados provocaron el descarrilamiento de un tren que transportaba 500 kilogramos de concentrado de cobre, sacándole los pernos que unían los rieles. Las faenas en la división El Salvador, emplazada 1.100 kilómetros al norte de la capital, están paralizadas porque los huelguistas impiden el acceso al yacimiento.

La presidenta Bachelet ha rechazado la violencia y respaldado las gestiones de los directivos de la minera, aunque, según los analistas, el conflicto también ha desnudado una vez más las "dos almas" que conviven en la Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia, coalición de centroizquierda que gobierna el país desde 1990.

Informaciones de prensa indican que el ministro de Hacienda, Andrés Velasco, y el presidente ejecutivo de Codelco, quienes poseen un perfil técnico-liberal, han chocado con los ministros Belisario Velasco, del Interior, y Osvaldo Andrade, de Trabajo, los cuales serían proclive a ceder a las demandas de los huelguistas.

Inclusive algunos parlamentarios oficialistas, denominados "díscolos", amenazaron a Velasco --miembro del directorio de la cuprífera-- con presentar una acusación constitucional en su contra por su actuación en el conflicto.

La escalada de violencia llevó a la Iglesia Católica a pronunciarse al respecto e intentar acercar posiciones con los trabajadores. El 18 de este mes, la Conferencia Episcopal emitió una declaración titulada "Desafíos de fondo en los recientes conflictos laborales".

"La subcontratación es una realidad muy extendida en el mundo, sobre todo en las grandes empresas. Progresivamente se ha ido convirtiendo en un mecanismo para disminuir los costos laborales, pudiendo afectar las condiciones de trabajo y la equidad en la remuneración, para elevar la productividad de las empresas. Desgraciadamente, en este régimen muchas veces el trabajo no se realiza en condiciones dignas y justas", dice el texto. El cardenal Francisco Javier Errázuriz, en tanto, señaló el miércoles pasado que las empresas del Estado "deben dar el ejemplo" en materia laboral.

El alto precio internacional del cobre, impulsado principalmente por la gran demanda de China, le ha reportado millonarias ganancias a Codelco en los últimos años. Mientras en 2002 las ventas alcanzaron los 3.490 millones de dólares, en 2006 sobrepasaron los 17.000 millones de dólares, aportando a las arcas del Estado 8.334 millones de dólares.

Actualmente, Asia absorbe 40 por ciento de la oferta de Codelco, seguido por Europa, con 33 por ciento, América del Norte con 17 por ciento y América del Sur con 10 por ciento.


Asamblea de pueblos del Valle Calchaquí rechazó la actividad minera metalífera y exigen retiro de empresas


Cachi, Salta, Argentina - Vecinos de las localidades del Valle Calchaquí salteño se reunieron en el salón municipal del pueblo de Cachi para informarse sobre el proyecto de explotación minera de uranio en territorio del valle, en los departamentos de Cachi y San Carlos. Los Autoconvocados del Valle Calchaquí en Defensa de la Vida se pronunciaron categóricamente en contra de la minería metalífera contaminante y de uranio, mientras que permanecen en asamblea permanente hasta que las empresas mineras se retiren de la zona.

Participaron de esta asamblea unas cuatrocientas personas, entre ellas los habitantes de Cachi, Vecinos de Quipón, Fundación Ambientalista Natura de Cachi, Autoconvocados de Cafayate, San Carlos, Angastaco, Molinos y Cachi, Integrantes del Grupo ecologista Pro-Eco de Tucumán, Encuentro Calchaquí, Comunidades Unidas de Molinos, representantes de Bodega Colomé, Concejales del Departamento de Cachi, la diputada Liliana Guitián y la Sra. Intendenta de Cachi, Fanny Flores.

Un Vecino de Quipón pone a disposición de la comunidad los Informes de impacto ambiental de la exploración de Mina Don Otto en el departamento de San Carlos y de los cateos en el Cerro Tin-Tin, Quipón. La Asamblea desestima estos informes por entenderlos muy poco profesionales y hallar varias irregularidades. Los vecinos manifiestan no haber sido informados ni consultados en tiempo y forma para los cateos y las exploraciones por las empresas o el gobierno.

El Concejo Deliberante de Cachi presentó un informe de su trabajo de estudio e investigación que son base para la creación de una resolución y un proyecto de ordenanza en la que se prohíben todas las actividades mineras metalíferas a gran escala y de uranio en el territorio del departamento, por considerarlas contaminantes. Priorizando todas las actividades económicas existentes como el turismo, agricultura y ar tesanía. Los integrantes de la Asamblea apoyaron estas resoluciones con firmas. Un vecino de San Carlos comenta que los concejales del Departamento de San Carlos aprobaron hoy día una ordenanza municipal similar a esta.

Por decisión unánime el Valle Calchaquí decide:

* Pronunciarse a favor de la Vida y de las Economías Regionales
* Pronunciar el rechazo a toda actividad minera contaminante y de uranio
* Declararse en Asamblea Permanente hasta que las empresas mineras se retiren de la zona
* Nombrarse como Autoconvocados del Valle Calchaquí en Defensa de la Vida y en Contra de la Minería Metalífera Contaminante

Habitantes de Cachi rechazan la decisión del gobierno de explotar uranio

Por - Miércoles

25 de julio de 2007

Pobladores de Cachi firmaron una solicitud para ser elevada al gobierno provincial, mediante la cual expresan su oposición a la intención de cateo y explotación de uranio en ese Departamento. El temor se debe al desalojo de 28 familias y a la posible contaminación de los ríos, como consecuencia del efecto altamente radioactivo y destructivo para el medio ambiente. El candidato a concejal de Cachi por el Frente por la Victoria, Aníbal Rojo, indicó que no se brindó una correcta información ni se hizo una audiencia pública para informar a los pobladores respecto a los riesgos que entraña esta decisión. Justamente en la superficie donde se solicitó permiso de cateo viven unas 28 familias a las que, según Rojo, se les empezó a ofrecer viviendas lejos de sus tierras. Por el momento, el candidato manifestó que solo se conoce lo que dicen los referentes de la provincia que aseguran que "las minas no van a contaminar".

Cabe recordar que este tipo de explotaciones, afectaron ya a varias zonas del país. Es el caso de Catamarca, donde una zona explotada por uranio quedó desierta en un radio de 1000 hectáreas. Una situación similar se presentó en los Valles Calchaquíes por las versiones de la reactivación de la mina de uranio de Don Otto, ubicada en Amblayo.


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