MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Latin American Update

Published by MAC on 2006-12-14

Latin American Update

14th December 2006

As foreshadowed on this site, the regional government of Mondoza province, Argentina, has suspended all open-pit mining, although recent indications are that the governor, Ricardo Cobos, will use his veto to overturn the popular decision.

A recent Transational Tribunal to expose Barrick's Latin American activities was recently concluded in Chile. We publish the judgements of the Tribunal and a personal commentary by the prosecutor.

Brazilian policy have removed gold prospectors from a national park, and the major steel-maker, Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional, has pipped India's Tata Steel to the post, in its takeover of Corus Steel. Last week the UK-Dutch company was itself fined more than a million pounds for an explosion in 2001 which killed three workers and injured a dozen others at one of its plants in Wales.

Negotiations between the Columbian mineworkers union, Sintracarbon, and the three UK partners in the huge El Cerrejon coal mine seem to be heading nowhere, as accusations are levelled against paramilitary groups of making sinister threats against trade unionists and student activists.

A raft of Ecuadorian NGOs has issued a statement condemning ongoing human rights abuses by the Canadian companies Ascendant and Correntes Resources.


Argentine province halts mining on pollution fears

By Helen Popper

14th December 2006

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Lawmakers in an Argentine province famous for its wine and ski resorts have suspended all open-pit mining due to strong environmental opposition, deputies and industry sources said on Thursday.

The western province of Mendoza is synonymous with Malbec vines grown in the plains below the Andes, but rising metal prices have generated increased interest in its mining potential and in turn fueled anti-mining protests.

At a session on Wednesday, the province's parliament voted to suspend open-pit metals mining indefinitely because the local government had failed to meet a 30-day deadline to draw up a plan to safeguard the environment from mining projects.

"The people of Mendoza are learning lessons from other parts of the world where environmental issues haven't been addressed with the seriousness and prudence they deserve," said Diego Arenas, a Democratic Party deputy, adding that the ban would last until an environmental plan was in place.

He told Reuters the province's dry climate and its key agricultural sector, which also involves fruit farming and olive oil production, made it particularly important to protect water supplies from pollution risks.

Mining is not widely developed in Mendoza, and industry leaders say the ban could mean the province gets left behind from the country's minerals boom as neighboring provinces work to attract foreign investors.

"The saddest thing for me in all this is that we really don't know Mendoza's mining potential," said Roberto Zenobi, head of the provincial mining chamber, branding the law "unconstitutional."

"This act of ignorance by our lawmakers stops companies from exploring -- we're banning an activity without knowing if we have mineral resources worth exploiting," he added, saying the provincial governor might still veto the law.


Argentina is not known as a mining country. But investment in the sector has boomed in recent years, driven by higher global prices and lower costs since the peso was devalued sharply against the dollar during a 2001-2002 economic crisis.

Copper and gold are among the South American country's biggest mineral exports and official figures predict investment in the sector will top $6 billion between now and 2010.

The boom has provoked several protests by local and environmental groups opposed to mining projects, although Mendoza is the only province to pass such a far-reaching law. The mining chamber's Zenobi said two small metals projects were currently in the feasibility stage in the province. They are the La Cabeza gold project, where drilling is currently being done by Canada's Exeter Resource Corp. and the San Jorge gold and copper site, controlled by Vancouver-based Global Copper Corp.

He said the new law should not in principle affect the $735-million potash mine the world's No. 2 miner Rio Tinto expects to start work on in 2007. No one from Rio Tinto could immediately be reached to comment.

Mining opponents in Mendoza are most concerned about metals mining, fearing the blasting and chemicals used could pollute water supplies.

Ricardo Schkop, of the Southern Multisector group that includes farmers, said he had no problem with quarrying and non-polluting mining.

"We're not so Utopian that we think we can live without mining," he said. "(But) to allow the dynamiting of two or three mountains to extract a kilo of gold is an extreme."


Report of the Transnational Mining Tribunal: The Case of Barrick Gold Corporation in Latin America (Chile, Argentina and Peru)

II Social Forum Chile - Santiago de Chile

25th November 2006

After hearing the arguments of the prosecution and the defense as well as the testimonies of civil society and traditional communities of Argentina, Chile and Perú, the judges handed down a verdict and judicial sentence:


The Public Tribunal was carried out against the transnational mining company, Barrick Gold Corporation, to judge its behaviour with respect to the environment, society, culture and economy and towards the ecosystems, communities and people of Argentina, Chile and Peru. The tribunal was convened by social movements, principally organizations and networks of campesinos, small producers and citizens.


With respect to the before mentioned facts, on November 25, 2006, in the II Chilean Social Forum, the parties to the action, Barrick Gold Corporation and Prosecuting Attorney Javier Rodríguez Pardo (representing the affected communities and organized citizens of Argentina, Chile and Peru) were convened to hear the plaintiff's demand that defendant Barrick Gold be expulsed from the Argentinean, Chilean and Peruvian territories, and that all transnational mining corporations that are operating in a similar manner in said territories be treated equally.

The defendant was legally notified of the case but declined to appear. In consideration of the rules of due process, a defense attorney, Jaime Gallardo Gallardo, was designated to represent the defendant.


As argued in opening statements by both prosecutor Javier Rodrígez Pardo and in declarations by witnesses from Peru, Argentina and Chile, the mining corporation Barrick Gold has committed irreversible environmental damages and immitigable economic and social impacts in Ancash, Condorhuain, Chilecito, Famatina and Pascua-Lama as a consequence of its treatment of traditional communities, small and medium producers, and extremely fragile ecosystems and natural resources. These non-renewable common goods have been damaged and exhausted and are no longer available for future generations of Argentine, Chilean and Peruvian citizens;

The environmental impact produced by Barrick Gold's operations is the result of what this Tribunal views as a new type of "transnational" mining that renders old mining concepts obsolete, replacing them with the use of explosives and chemical lixiviation, the intensive use of subsidized energy and water resources, and the application of various toxic compounds, which destroy bodies of water that are vital to life, human activity and productive enterprises in the zones impacted by said transnational mining;

This type of mining activity, which is variously described as open-pit, strip-mine, mountain-top and by analogous designations, was created expressly for the indiscriminate extraction of minerals which lie throughout huge extensions of our mountainous territories. These areas are the property of ancestral campesino communities and agricultural and livestock producers, many of whom have been displaced without consideration of important international treaties such as Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization;.

The damage produced through the extraction of these minerals of increasingly low grade ore does not respect the fragility and complexity of the high mountain riverine headwaters, "real water factories," in the Andean mountain range, or the Andean foothills, where over 80% of the minerals are found.;

The people of Argentina, Chile and Peru are seeing their territories plundered. They are also confronting serious environmental problems which, if not stopped immediately, will prevent future generations from exercising their right to an adequate quality of life, as recognized by the international law of human rights. The failure to apply concepts such as the precautionary principle, an ecosystem focus, sustainable development and social equity is generating an exodus of communities located in the areas where these criminal actions are taking place;

Experiences with Barrick Gold's operations in different latitudes of the planet including Latin America reveal a similar approach: obtain the greatest profit in the least time possible and carry out shady business practices vis-a-vis international stock markets and in the sale of minerals that are extracted under permissive national laws using sworn declarations that are factually inaccurate;

In addition to the minerals that are officially sought and declared, other unreported minerals are being extracted, among them the so-called "rare elements," which are critical and strategic minerals that are utilized in modern cybernetics, high technology and space programs;

It is shown that Barrick Gold Corporation has committed severe affronts against the indigenous peoples in the zones where it operates, causing these people to scatter from the areas surrounding the company's operations, exacerbating poverty and undermining the full realization of fundamental human rights;

It is also sustained that Barrick Gold Corporation is implicated in severe violations of labour rights, because of the dangerous work conditions it imposes on its workers, resulting in continuous work-related accidents. The company requires workers to exceed the number of work hours permitted by international conventions and national law, pays unjust salaries, engages in unlawful firings. The company also infringes upon the right of its workers to collectively organize in defence of their rights, relying on the deadly police repression that is prevalent in our countries;

There is no evidence of increased economic development in any of the localities where this type of mining is carried out.

In virtue of the above considerations, which were presented to this Tribunal, it is resolved:

That the mining firm Barrick Gold Corporation is responsible for serious environmental, social, cultural and economic affronts, product of its policies, programs and actions against the territories and peoples of Argentina, Chile and Peru;

That the new Commission of Human Rights of the United Nations be urged to apply the UN human rights norms to mining companies, and that the corresponding sanctions established in international human rights law be applied to Barrick Gold Corporation, for example those established in the Agreement for Civil Responsibility for damages caused by activities that are dangerous to the environment, the Treaty of Lugano of 1993 and Convention 169 of the ILO;

That governments, especially those of Latin America, be urged to incorporate provisions into their penal legislation to criminalize conduct that causes serious ecological damage such as that committed by Barrick Gold Corporation, punishable by incarceration;

That since international law does not effectively reach cases such as these, that the transnational mining company Barrick Gold be sentenced to immediately pay just restitution to the victims of its policies, programmes and actions, and to restore the ecosystems affected by its mining investments;

This tribunal proposes that during the forthcoming year, a trial of ethics similar to this tribunal be carried out to bring the politicians and public servants who facilitate these environmental, economic, social and cultural affronts to justice;

By an absolute majority of its members, this Tribunal accepts the request of the Prosecutor and hereby sentences the Defendant to immediate expulsion from the territories of said peoples, as well as condemning all transnational mining companies who are operating in a similar manner in said territories to the same treatment;

It shall be noted that Justice Eduardo Saavedra Díaz, representative of Amnesty International Chile, is not in agreement with the majority vote regarding the immediate expulsion of the accused company, but supports the totality of the rest of the contents of this ruling.

Panel of Judges:

Miguel Palacín Quispe - Andean Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples
Juan Carlos Cardenas - Ecoceanos Centre
Eduardo Saavedra Díaz - Amnesty International - Chile
Sister Cristina Hoar - Department of Peace, Justice and Ecology -- CONFERRE

The Tribunal That Made History Convicts Barrick Gold

by Javier Rodríguez Pardo, Santiago de Chile

December 2006

The trial against Barrick Gold Corporation took place on November 2006, in the crowded halls of the School of Architecture of Santiago de Chile, a trial that also impacted those who followed it on radio Tierra AM 1300. No one left their seats and all the doors of the amphitheater remained open, reflecting an attentive and participative audience. Photographers and videographers abounded, recording the trial as if it were a never-to-be-repeated event. In the upper reaches of the amphitheatre, half a dozen documentary filmmakers were gathered, their teams mixing with the public.

I played the role of Prosecutor in the trial against mining company Barrick Gold, and I acted as though this really was my job. To me, this was not acting on a stage, it was a sort of catharsis. From the first articles that I had written, "The Macabre Barrick of Bush" and "Barrick Lies," this trial permitted me a sort of personal therapeutic relief. At the trial's conclusion, I felt the intensity of the moment while in my memory another reality was being reviewed. A parade of the mentors of this corporation had marched across the stage: George Bush, leader of a genocidal Empire. Adan Khashoggi, the arms dealer who provided funds for the incorporation of Barrick Gold. I imagined seeing Peter Munk on the stand, accompanied by Prince Philip and other members of the Island Club -- the same stage as in 1982 when they posed together in the Toronto Stock Exchange.

These images, in fleeting sequence, were reproduced for me in the moment when the transnational demanded space to refute me in the newspaper La Septima of San Juan, Argentina. In their response (in which they threatened to take legal action against me, which never materialized), they themselves provided the necessary proof: George Bush is one of the major shareholders of Barrick Gold (the company did not deny this) and company lawyers were worried only about protecting the ex-president from any responsibility for his role in the purchase of the Goldstrike Mine in Nevada (in which George Bush had given a ten billion dollar mine as a gift to Barrick Gold, through influence trafficking and political pressures, the usual custom). Then, as now, the same. Barrick is now present in five continents and in every case, its form of operating is just as shadowy as it is sinister. It has soaked African soil with the blood of three million dead in the Congo, with paramilitary forces and civil conflicts, in its search for critical and strategic minerals: gold, coltan, niobium, uranium, cobalt, petroleum. (* see below)

The same destiny is hovering over Australia where the Wiradjuri people are fighting a Barrick open-pit mine on the shores of Lake Cowal, while newly-acquired Place Dome is devastating the Philippines, accused of economic and environmental damages on the island of Marinduque. And in Indonesia, Placer Dome is violating the rights of the Dayak people and destroying extensive tracts of native forests; Placer Dome (or Barrick Gold) influences politics, and when necessary, war.

This is how Barrick Gold operates

As Prosecutor, I presented the case, recalling how Esquel, a town of barely 30,000 residents in Argentina's Patagonia, managed to expel Canadian mining firm Meridian Gold. In that occasion, we warned that the mining invaders did not come only for the gold, but rather for everything. These early struggles and the investigations later undertaken led us to warn people about the lethal extractive method which permits the plunder of common, nonrenewable goods carried out by these agents of globalization, grinding up and irrigating entire mountains with a toxic chemical soup in open pits.

This plunder comes about and is made possible by a national legal code appropriated and transformed by complicit government officials. Once again I explained how and why this system of extraction was developed, the consumerism of the North and the scarcity of minerals, with mineral deposits in the North of an increasingly lower grade. I consider this message to be essential to really understand the rules that guide the plunderers.

The Defense

The task of defending the company was handed to Jaime Gallardo. He undertook the task in a professional manner, as if he had been contracted by Barrick Gold. In some moments he earned jeers in his intent to demonstrate that his client practices "Responsible Mining." In other moments, the audience responded with sharp remarks to his attempts to explain the benefits that the company will provide to the country.

"How much do they pay you!", "You are as corrupt as them!" were some of the barbs launched from the upper seats of the amphitheater where the tribunal took place. They were voices of both women and men, perhaps from unsuspecting citizens who believed they were witnessing the official trial which we would have wanted, and for the moment, forgot that this trial was non-binding.

The defense attorney Gallardo acted in this role because the mining company, through means of a fax, declined the invitation to the tribunal, explaining that its president could not be present. Jaime Gallardo relied therefore upon the Web page of Barrick. The arguments which he utilized in the company's defense were the same which the transnational publishes on the Internet and disseminates through press outlets.

Testimonies From Peru and Argentina

Victor Rodríguez and Juan Navarro, community leaders from the Negra and Blanca Mountains Range of Huaraz, Peru, explained the case of the Pierina mines. With an emotional testimony they showed how the Pierina mine is affecting the communities of the region of Ancash. The region has a dozen villages inhabited by some 15,000 residents, although there are many more who depend upon the sixty-four sources of water which emerge from the mountain Condorwain. Demonstrations are being carried out against Barrick Gold, which is still trying to extend its mining operations with the projects Condorwain and Conito. "The scarcity of water due to over consumption and mining activities," said the witnesses, "puts our agriculture and livestock in jeopardy. We Peruvians demand that Barrick Misquichilca pay reparations for damages and injuries, and that they cease their activities and expansion.

We also denounce the murders of two of our neighbors and the serious injuries of another twenty due to the violent repression taken out against the hundreds of mine workers who spoke out for better salaries and dignity in their work conditions."

The miners had blocked the access route to the plant and gathered in Huallapampa. They were met with fierce repression by some 30 police agents employed directly by the mining firm. These are the same repressive forces that were created and utilized by dictator Fujimori and Montesinos, unabashed supporters of Barrick and of mining projects such as Tambogrande, also where social leaders were murdered. The Peruvian witnesses detailed cases of illnesses caused by the mining activities and large numbers of persons with high levels of lead in their blood. In Peru the deaths are announced with resigned detachment, as though they were a routine daily occurrence.

Ana Gloria González, of Chilecito, and Héctor Artuzzo, of Pituil, a small village at the feet of the Famatina mountain range in the province of La Rioja, Argentina, spoke about their assemblies and demonstrations against Barrick Gold, which is currently trying to reopen the century-old mine La Mejicana in the upper reaches of the Famatina range. The one sole water source provides an average of 760 litres of water per second, while the mining firm will need to consume at least 1,000 liters per second. This equation is an axe hanging over the villages of campesinos, farmers and small ranchers; added to the scarcity of water should be the contamination which will inevitably be caused by the mining project.

Today there is a basin located at 4,500 meters suffering from excessive acidity (pH of 2), caused by the former mining operations in La Mejicana, recognized even by the Environmental Impact Report prepared by Barrick in its exploratory stage of operations. González and Artuzzo say that "the residents of Chilecito and Famatina are prepared to protect the resources and environment, the mountains and landscapes, cultural and archeological heritage with their lives." They add, "We will defend our water, our lives and the lives of future generations as well, because these are our constitutional rights and we must defend them."

The Witnesses

The Prosecutor then called upon Lucio Cuenca, of the Latin American Observatory of Environmental Conflicts (OLCA), who based his presentation on the environmental and social impacts produced by mining activity of the Pascua Lama project. "(These impacts) are not only in the future, but the present, because during this stage of exploration, thousands of meters of shafts have been drilled, and roads have been cut through a great number of glaciers and ice fields, and their destruction is minimized and hidden by the company."

The OLCA environmentalist described the continuous negligence and abuses caused by Barrick in relation to the presentations of re-written and doctored environmental impact reports. At first, the existence of the glaciers was denied by the company, then later the firm announced that they would be 'transferred.' A management plan for ice and glacial resources was omitted, incomplete plans were presented, and members of the water board were bribed: These are the most frequent methods of doing business. According to Lucio Cuenca, "those who are permitting all of this are criminally responsible, and I hope that this trial will hand the company a harsh sentence." Cuenca provided an exhaustive description of the numerous environmental damages and presented an uncertain destiny for the Huasco Valley should the Pascua Lama project be carried out.

Mario Mautz and Javier Campillay are farmers worried about the scarcity of water. The field work and the corporate reality shook the silence of the packed hall. Mautz emotionally referred to the glaciers and water course, reflecting on the negative impacts already caused by the mining practices. "Who are they to throw us out of the valley, who gave them the authority to install themselves here and tell lies to us with the story that everything is OK?" Campillay continued along the same line: "I regret not having been able to dedicate more time to the struggle against Pascua Lama. Barrick knows it, they speculate with time and with our dedication towards our work, but just recently we have begun to feel that this fight is vital. It is them or us."

Verónica Araya explained the activity of the Ayni Network, a group created to resolve any needs of jobs and work in the region. Before questions of the defense attorney, she stated that with artisans, small businesses and imagination, "we could replace the jobs offered by Barrick, without risk of pulmonary edema and psychological damage from the rigorous work some four and five thousand meters above sea level. We are already doing it." Her testimony abounded with examples: It is the response of a sector of the population opting for genuine and permanent occupations.

It was then the turn of Julián Alcayaga. I asked the economist if he was capable of synthesizing the conclusions of his book "The Exile of the Condor" in fifteen minutes. The book tells of the economic damage which Chile has suffered with the privatization of the copper industry. Chile produces more mineral than ever and earns less and less income, with fewer and fewer jobs, while natural resources are rapidly depleting. This is the paradigm of neoliberal development. "Billions of dollars," said Alcayaga, "escaping overseas through falsified declarations. The companies swear that they are not making profits, and Barrick's El Indio mine is one of them."

It is the same on the other side of the Andes, a dozen laws and twenty codes are giving away the Argentine heritage for free. A ridiculous Mining Code, water for which they do not pay, subsidized energy, and legal and tax stability for thirty years form a framework of this cruel plunder. Alcayaga, and this Prosecutor, "denounce the unconstitutionality of the Bi-national Treaty of Mining Implementation between Argentina and Chile, which creates a third country for the transnationals and through the law gives away the peaks of the Andes: this is the key to the plunder."

The technical aberrations of this type of mining were exposed by Hugo González, mining engineer from San Juan, Argentina. He was able to retort the claims of the defense regarding "responsible mining, scientific seriousness and high standards of controls." González told of one document which proves the environmental harm that Barrick is committing. An internal (and private) memo of the auditing company contracted by the transcontinental firm urges Barrick Gold to proceed swiftly to prevent the "constant breakage of the membrane which is supposed to make the tailings reservoir of Veladero impermeable," located only meters from the project Pascua Lama.

The complaint proves the claims of negligence and imprudence regarding the techniques used on this occasion. (We submitted yet another report where the company was urged to solder the membrane every twenty meters, "although this is not the appropriate solution.") The mining engineer González alluded later to another document, (all were submitted to the Tribunal), over corporate structure and financing, and the impossibility to act legally against the transnational, and the legal roots of the subsidiary mining firms of Barrick with their headquarters in island tax havens. Hugo González then spoke of the impact of the method of open pit mining, of the explosions and particles suspended in the atmosphere which generally are omitted from the environmental impact reports, and of acid mine drainage. These are aspects barely mentioned by Barrick.

The focus returned to the glaciers with the presence of the Councilman of Alto del Carmen, Chile, Luis Faura. He has accompanied us, over the past two years, on visits throughout much of the Huasco Valley, and we knew that his activism and work has permitted him to know well the interrelations of government and mining officials. Faura spoke about this, speaking of bribes, handouts and trafficking of influences. He emphasized the rock glaciers, or layers of permafrost, upon which the water users of the valley depend. He spoke of the opinions of glaciologists regarding the complexity of the Andean ecosystem at 4,500 meters of altitude, and the destruction of the water-production capacities and then he spoke of the efforts made by Barrick to hide the ice masses which feed the water sources and basins. "Without the glaciers, these Andean valleys will disappear. In the Huasco locality, seventy thousand residents, principally agricultural families, are contemplating a virtual exodus. The go-ahead of the Pascua Lama project," according to Faura, "will destroy one of the most fertile valleys in the region of Coquimbo."

The crystalline voice of Adriana Campillay followed immediately, and shook with the applauses of five straight hours of testimony against Barrick. The mining operations are showing no mercy to the indigenous peoples who are being displaced from their territories, for now they have a diabolical method to extract the disseminated minerals of the mountains. The Huascoaltina community elder, with a resounding vitality, spoke of an ancestral culture, sullied and unprotected. She strongly called for "justice for all of the forgotten populations" and her words moved ever close the verdict against Barrick Gold.

Our argument

I first directed the attention of the tribunal (and the audience) to the Technical Report of the Pascua Lama Project, headed by the agronomist Claudia A. Cantoni, dated October 6th of this year, in the province of San Juan, Argentina. Claudia Cantoni is a member of the Interdisciplinary Commission of Mining Environmental Evaluation for the Pascua Lama Project. I believed it opportune and essential that people on both sides of the Andes know that this project is being delayed by this and other critical reports. But without too many hopes. Only delayed.

The mining firm first omitted the existence of the glaciers, and only after complaints of the Huasco Valley water board did they admit that there are glaciers. Only three: Toro I, Toro II and Esperanza. They consider these three glaciers to be small and irrelevant, but the complaints began to rain down from all sides. The transnational then modified its Environmental Impact Report with a glacier management plan that couldn't hold up under the smallest questioning: "The glaciers will be transferred to another location, they will be moved to a fourth glacier nearby, called Guanaco."

"How?" The water board asked.

"With steam shovels," Barrick answered.

This is what was known. But first COREMA and then CONAMA authorized the injustice by accepting the final word of the company, that the glaciers would not be affected nor moved. The reality is that the company, in its desire for approval of its Declaration of Environmental Impact, will agree to whatever is necessary.

On the Argentine side, the tall tales continued to grow. Barrick offered a report which included a map without a single glacier. The same report, submitted to Chile however, included a map that showed the glaciers. This fact became part of a lawsuit, which is now winding its way through the halls of justice in the province of San Juan.

But we return to the 31-page technical report of Cantoni, which goes much further, saying that "it can be stated that the basins of the rivers Canito, Arroyo Turbio and Turbio are a glacial regimen. There are interstitial ice bodies found at 4,800 meters of altitude, which have been cut by the roads leading to the glacier Guanaco. These ice fields indicate the presence of discontinuous permafrost (glaciers of rock). The report observes that the meteorological wind data were taken in Chile and were not studied on the Argentine side. The particulate matter will affect the rates of melting of the glaciers and speed up their disappearance. Barrick analyzed the particulate matter in locations nearby the mining camp but omitted the rest of the ecosystem where it will actually operate the open-pit extractive process. That through more than nine points a negative impact was evaluated and serious technical shortfalls were found in the Declaration.

What should have been investigated was not - for example there are no studies regarding the glaciers' behaviour, some of which are more than 160 meters deep. At the same time the technical report warns of an apparent crime regarding the way that the site of the mining operation was detached from the rest of the Biosphere Reserve of San Guillermo. The meticulous technical report, in which specialists from diverse disciplines participated, concludes that: "For what is shown," signed Claudia A. Cantoni, "I do not approve the Declaration of Environmental Impact by mining firm Barrick regarding the Pascua Lama Project."

Such is our allegation

Barrick presented an Environmental Impact Report for Veladero where it identified the principal supplies utilized in its operations as sodium cyanide and lime. The company did not consider the water that it will use (over 1,000 liters per second), nor the energy consumed. The reality is that the company does not pay for the water. If it did, it could be charged the amount that the US Department of the Interior fixed, which in 1976 was ten cents per cubic meter (U$0.10 per 1,000 liters). The energy used is subsidized. The company was ordered to pay a fine of 240,000 Argentine pesos for dumping diesel and oil in the peaks of Veladero and Pascua Lama because it is more economical for them to use this fuel than the special recommended additives. The general opinion in San Juan is that Barrick never actually paid the fine. The Governor of the province and his brother, currently a national senator, are the owners of Santa Gema Bentonita, which provides mining materials to the Barrick Gold Corporation.

This is responsible mining, the same company which burned and buried the remnants of the mining camp of Pascua Lama at the end of its prospecting activity. Which caused the deaths of birds and local fauna by poisoning rodents which had come to feed in the camp refuse dumps. Which chopped the glacier Conconta to bits in order to widen the access route to the plant; which replaced the high desert oasis springs of Veladero with a tailings reservoir. This is the type of mining which bribes and corrupts, which decides just as quickly to get rid of workers as to eliminate any opposition, with money or with the brute force of its mercenaries. This is the road to Veladero, controlled by New Zealanders and thugs, the murderers of the Pierina mine, those of the Congo, of Tanzania, of Papua New Guinea. The mines of the global empire.

This is our unfinished allegation. Yes, unfinished. Only a minuscule exposition of the allegations, which itself is enough for this tribunal to convict Barrick Gold Corporation and sentence it to abandon the territories of Latin America. We demand its immediate expulsion. But furthermore, this Prosecutor requests that this Tribunal convene another similar trial, to be carried out during the year 2007, against the politicians and public servants who signed, permitted and accepted this environmental, economic, social and cultural damage.

Javier Rodríguez Pardo,
Prosecuting Attorney of the Barrick Gold Trial
Tribunal of the Social Forum of Chile
November 25, 2006
Santiago de Chile

Part of the sentence, which consisted of three pages:

That as a consequence, this Tribunal proposes that in the coming year, there be convened a tribunal of ethics of this same nature, against the politicians and public officials who have legitimated and made these environmental, economic, social and cultural crimes possible.


That with respect to this, the Tribunal, by absolute majority of its members sustains the request of the Prosecutor and sentences the defendant to expulsion from the territories of said peoples, as well as condemning equally all of the transnational mining companies which are operating in the same manner in said territories. It shall be noted that the judge Eduardo Saavedra Díaz, representative of Amnesty International Chile, is not in agreement with the majority vote regarding the expulsion of the accused company, but is in agreement with the totality of the rest of the contents of the present ruling.

Panel of Judges

Miguel Palacín Quispe - Andean Coordinator Andina of Pueblos Indígenas
Juan Carlos Cardenas - Ecoceanos Center
Eduardo Saavedra Díaz - Amnesty Internacional - Chile
Sister Cristina Hoar - Department of Peace, Justice and Ecology, CONFERRE

* Editorial Note. MAC wishes to point out that, while Barrick can certainly be accused of several censorious activities in Africa and association with highly dubious partners, we know of no evidence that the company has been directly responsible for human rights violations such as described. Nor, to our knowledge has the company any major involvement in coltan, niobium, uranium, cobalt or petroleum.


State park transformed into claim mine

Diário de Cuiabá

12th December 2006

Sema and the Environmental Police caught over 100 people illegally mining inside a conservation unit, between Coliza and Cotritriguaçu. Officials from the State Environmental Department (Sema) and the Environmental Police caught over 100 people in an illegal gold mine inside the Igarapés do Juruena State Park (located between the municipalities of Coliza and Cotriguaçu, in the far northeast corner of the state. Four ringleaders were arrested.

The operation took place from the 5th to the 9th of this month. According to Lieutenant Antônio Carlos Costa, one of the coordinators of the operation, the area invaded is quite remote and has suffered widespread devastation from logging and gold mining activities.

"There are craters everywhere and over a thousand cubic meters of all types of timber logged. It looks like something from a horror movie. I was shocked with what they'd done to the park", the policeman said.

Many miners fled into the woods when law enforcement arrived. There were more than a hundred that didn't. "There were so many people that we had to stop arresting them as we didn't have enough personnel to take them all in. That's why we decided to arrest the four ringleaders and take all of their equipment with us".

The names of those arrested are Cícero Francisco de Souza, Jolmar Simionatto, Josenilton Silva dos Santos and Luiz Sérgio Otto. The officers confiscated 15 motors, six trucks and a tracked tractor.

"Each one of them led a group of at least 60 miners", says Costa, who discovered where they all came from. "They came mainly from the states of Amazonas and Rondônia. There are people from all over, they came attracted by the gossip".

Gossip, in claim miner's lingo is news that is transmitted by word of mouth about some new promising mining area. The discover that Igarapés do Juruena had become the focus of this gossip was made possible by satellite images.

According to Sema, a technical report, together with a police inquiry, will be sent to the State Public Prosecutors Office to initiate and investigation.


Established by a state decree in 2002, Igarapés do Juruena shelters an area of 227,000 hectares, rich in water and diversity of fauna and flora. According to a survey by the Sema Coordinating Office of Conservation Units (CUCO), the park has been targeted by organized land-grabbers. Management plan frauds have also been discovered, trying to legalize timber taken from the park.

Court fines Corus over fatal steel blast

Financial Times

15th December 2006

Corus, the Anglo-Dutch steelmaker, was on Friday ordered to pay more than £3m for breaching health and safety laws over a 2001 explosion at one of its plants in Wales, which killed three workers and injured a dozen others.

Corus admitted at Swansea Crown Court failing to ensure worker safety at its Port Talbot plant and said it regretted the loss of life and the “grievous injuries”.

The steelworks explosion was caused by water in a furnace coming into sudden contact with hot material in November 2001.

As the water turned to steam it expanded and blew apart a confined vessel, showering workers with molton metal.

The Court fined Corus £1.33m and ordered it to pay £1.74m costs. Brazilian steelmaker Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional this week agreed to buy Corus, trumping within hours a raised offer from India’s Tata Steel that valued the Anglo-Dutch steel group at £5.5bn.

The battle to control Corus is the latest gambit in the global steel industry following the big rise in valuations in the past five years, triggered by growing consolidation and surging Chinese demand for the metal.


Threats in the coal region

15th December 2006

Spanish text, SINTRACARBON union, Colombia;
English translation, Avi Chomsky, North Shore Colombia Solidarity Committee, Massachusetts, USA.
Introduction: Richard Solly and Avi Chomsky

Groups around the world have been monitoring the negotiations currently going on between Sintracarbon, the union at the Cerrejon coal mine in La Guajira, Colombia, and the Cerrejon Coal Company owned by Anglo American, BHPBilliton and Xstrata. On Monday 18 December 2006, the bargaining committees will be discussing the union's demands regarding the rights of the Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities surrounding the mine, and the demand that the mine sponsor a public forum on coal policy. On December 23, the first 20-day bargaining period will end. As of Friday 15 December, resolution does not appear forthcoming on any of the many issues under negotation. Meanwhile, Sintracarbon and other popular organisations have been threatened by a shadowy group apparently linked to the paramilitaries. The union issued the following press release on 15 December:

National Coal Industry Workers' Union SINTRACARBON


The Union of National Coal Industry Workers, Sintracarbón, denounces several recent incidents in our country, and in particular on the Caribbean coast, related to the demobilization of the paramilitaries and the scandal unfolding in the last few days regarding the links between high-level political figures--who the press is now calling "para-politicians"--and the paramilitaries. These politicians are under investigation by the Supreme Court for their role in the creation of paramilitary groups and the organization of massacres and demobilizations on the Caribbean coast. At the same time, a new group calling itself "The Black Eagles" has begun circulating pamphlets threatening union, student, and popular leaders, and other members of the CUT union confederation.

In recent days they have delivered death threats against leaders of the oil-workers union USO and student leaders at the University of Cartagena. They have also given them an ultimatum to leave the city.

USO leader Rodolfo Vecino was the target of an assassination attempt which we assume was carried out by the Black Eagles. Fortunately he escaped unharmed.

CUT Executive Board member Domingo Tovar, who is currently participating in the Sintracarbón negotiating committee, and his family in the Sucre department, have been the targets of harassment and threats by these groups.

Yesterday a pamphlet was circulated at the University of the Atlantic, similar to the one threatening union, student, and popular leaders with assassination if they did not leave the city of Barranquilla. Among the organizations named in yesterday's pamphlet were:

• Members of the University Students Association (FEU)

• Student Dignity

• Democrativ Vision

• National University Federation (FUN)

• Colombian Association of University Students (A.C.E.U)


The pamphlet ended with these words:

"There is not enough paper for us to include all of the names and organizations that are serving as a front for their insurgent (i.e., guerrilla) work, these sons of bitches, gonorrheas, but we have listed their main leaders but everyone directly affiliated with these kinds of people and organizations should affiliate to a FUNERAL HOME."

In the face of these threats, intimidations, harassments and ultimatums against student, popular and union leaders, "SINTRACARBÓN" strongly denounces this type of threat, which violates our fundamental rights, freedom of association, and freedom of expression. We therefore publicize our stand before the local, national, and international communities.


Canadian Mining Companies Promote Violence in Ecuador

7th December 2006

We, the signatories of this statement, human rights, environmental and local organizations, as well as other social collectives, denounce, before the country and the international community, the fact that Canadian companies Corrientes Resources (which operates in Ecuador under the name of Ecuacorrientes) and Ascendant Copper Corporation (with American and Canadian capital) are committing a series of abuses against the human rights of the indigenous and campesino communities of Morona Santiago, Zamora Chinchipe and Imbabura.

In the area of the Intag (Imbabura), armed attacks took place during the first weeks of November and December of the present year. These acts were promoted by the mining company Ascendant Copper and were made against the communities and local governments that defend their territory.

Ascendant violated the right to prior consultation that is established under the Political Constitution of the Republic, as it appears that it has decided to take the area of Junin, Cerro Pelado and other neighbuoring areas by force. The communities have been attacked by armed security groups and paramilitaries who have used a variety of arms, including firearms and teargas, against the population.

We are extremely concerned that these paramilitary groups include members of the army who are in "passive service," as has been denounced by the communities. Some individuals, who were recruited in the Intag, reported having received military training.

In addition, the indigenous Shuar and Saraguros federations, as well as the populations of Gualaquiza, El Pangui, Yantzantz, Yunganza and Bomboiza, in the provinces of Zamora Chinchipe and Morona Santiago, have experienced escalating violence and repression on the part of members of the Ecuadorian army, who, without explanation, have begun to defend the company Corrientes Resources.

An as yet undetermined number of campesinos and indigenous people, including various women, have been the victims of repression involving teargas, the use of firearms, physical aggression and illegal interference with their liberty. The deputy for Zamora Chinchipe, Salvador Quishpe, who supports the population, was detained by the military, gagged, physically attacked and transferred to a military reserve when he was kept for various hours. The final tally of victims is not yet known.

Opposition to this mining project by thousands of persons from the two Amazonian provinces received an encouraging response from the government on November 12. The Minister of Labour, José Serrano, acting as a representative of the President of the Republic, signed an "agreement for commitment" in the city of Macas that requires the immediate suspension of the mining company's activities in the province of Morona Santiago. Despite the agreement, Corrientes Resources has not halted its operations.

We also denounce the permanent harassment, death threats, physical and psychological aggression, and the persecution that is taking place against community leaders, environmental defenders and community members. These mining transnationals irresponsibly utilize the national justice system to pressure community members and to initiate lawsuits involving invented wrongs, whose purpose is to discourage and frighten.

We demand that government authorities, principally the Ministers of Government and Defence, act immediately to defend both these populations and national sovereignty. We ask that the Ministry of Defence refrain from authorizing any military intervention in these conflicts.

We condemn the actions of the mining companies named above and the inertia of the authorities who have permitted that transnationals act outside the law. This includes permitting repressive action on the part of members of the armed forces (in "passive service") and private groups created by the companies for this purpose.

We emphasize that the Political Constitution of the Republic establishes that "the fundamental mission of the Armed Forces is to conserve national sovereignty and to defend the integrity and independence of the state."

We demand that all human rights violations be investigated and sanctioned, whether they were committed by agents of the state or by representatives of the transnational companies that act with the backing of the state.

We will remain vigilant and together we will undertake appropriate action through national and international means in order to ensure that there is no impunity associated with the events that we have denounced. We communicate our support for the communities that are defending the patrimony of the state and public resources with courage and dignity.

Ecuadorian Human Rights Commission (CEDHU - Comisión Ecuatoriana de Derechos Humanos)
Centre for Economic and Social Rights (CEDES - Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales)
Centre for the Study of State and Society (Argentina)
Christian Youth Association (ACJ - Asociación Cristiana de Jóvenes)
Ecuadorian Confederation of Indigenous Nations (CONAIE - Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador)
ALTERCOM Press Agency (ALTERCOM - Agencia de Prensa de Ecuador)
Permanent Human Rights Assembly (APDH - Asamblea Permanente de Derechos Humanos)
Service for Peace and Justice (SERPAJ - Servicio Paz y Justicia)
Network of Women Transforming the Economy (REMTE - Red de Mujeres Transformando la Economía)
Regional Human Rights Advisory Foundation (INREDH - Fundación Regional de Asesoría en Derechos Humanos)
Support and Solidarity Centre (CAS - Centro de Apoyo y Solidaridad)
Confederation of Coastal Indigenous Nations (CONAICE - Confederación de las Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Costa)
Foundation for Indian Peoples (Fundación Pueblo Indio)
Popular Ecologist Network (Red Ecologista Popular)
Ecological Action (Acción Ecologia)
Pájaros Contra Escopetas, REMTE, Coalición No Bases


Diputados de Mendoza frenan la actividad minera metalífera

Por Analía Boggia
Mendoza, Argentina. Jueves 14 de diciembre 2006

La Cámara de Diputados avaló la suspensión de los derechos mineros, los cateos, las exploraciones o las explotaciones metalíferas a cielo abierto, hasta que el Ejecutivo envíe a la Legislatura el plan ambiental que contempla la Ley 5.961 (de Preservación Ambiental). Ahora el Gobierno podría vetar la ley, con el argumento de evitar un aluvión de demandas judiciales de las empresas mineras contra el Estado.

El tratamiento del proyecto que suspende la actividad minera no estaba previsto. Sin embargo, más de cien militantes de las multisectoriales, agricultores y miembros de las cámaras de comercio de San Rafael, General Alvear y los departamentos del Valle de Uco ganaron la pulseada para que la normativa fuera aprobada.

La mayoría de los asistentes hicieron guardia frente a la Legislatura desde la noche del martes. En la mañana de ayer, las organizaciones fueron ocupando las instalaciones de la Casa de las Leyes, especialmente los balcones que dan al recinto, con banderas y tambores redoblantes. "No podemos permitir que se ponga en juego el futuro de nuestros hijos", dijo Enrique Schulze (46), un metalúrgico de San Carlos, mientras se desarrollaba el debate.

Bajo este clima, los diputados se mostraron más que nerviosos. Especialmente los integrantes de la bancada de la UCR que apoyan al Gobierno. Aunque los peronistas también lucieron desorientados (ver aparte).

La ley

Hace casi dos meses, el senador sancarlino Jorge Difonso (PD) presentó un proyecto para frenar la actividad minera, hasta que el Gobierno enviara el plan ambiental; el Senado la avaló. Sin embargo, el 25 de octubre los diputados enviaron el texto a comisiones y a la semana siguiente aprobaron una resolución pidiendo al Ejecutivo que en 30 días mandara el plan ambiental. Con ese plazo cumplido, las organizaciones comenzaron a cortar rutas en esos departamentos y a realizar movilizaciones.

En medio de un clima muy tenso, los legisladores decidieron tratar la ley ayer. La mayoría intentó no contradecir a los asistentes, y cuando el presidente del bloque UCR, Luis Petri, dijo que el Ejecutivo había solicitado una prórroga de 10 días, los militantes comenzaron a insultarlo: "Traidor, nosotros te votamos para que nos representes", le gritó uno de los productores.

Finalmente, y por votación nominal, el texto fue aprobado con 26 votos positivos, aunque tuvo 17 en contra.

El aval provocó la euforia y los aplausos de las más de cien personas que presenciaron la sesión. Muchos de los asistentes destacaron que la asistencia fue determinante. "Si no hubiéramos venido, esto seguía acá", señaló Antonia Videla (58), de San Carlos. Y en coincidencia, Adolfo Nieto, presidente de la Cámara de Comercio de Alvear, afirmó: "La gente tuvo una participación especial".

Con este resultado, la Cámara de Empresarios Mineros advirtió sobre "los graves riesgos políticos generados para la radicación de inversiones significativas y la consecuente creación de empleo en la provincia de Mendoza a través de la minería".

En tanto el presidente de la ONG ambientalista Oikos, Eduardo Sosa, opinó: "Este es un paso positivo, porque el plan ambiental está en la ley". Aunque el Gobierno ya adelantó que ese plan ambiental estará recién en diciembre del año que viene.

Ahora el Gobierno podría vetar la ley, tal como afirmó Cobos cuando el proyecto ingresó en el Senado. Gustavo Morgani, subsecretario de Medio Ambiente, respondió que no hará declaraciones sobre el tema hasta no reunirse con el gobernador.


5/9/2005. El Gobierno suspendió por tres meses los permisos de cateo y exploración de minería metalífera por la presión del pueblo de San Carlos.

13/9/2005. El Ejecutivo da marcha atrás a la suspensión y promulga la ley de ampliación de la reserva Laguna del Diamante.

17/10/2006. El Senado aprueba la suspensión de la minería.

25/10/2006. Diputados manda el texto a Comisiones.

1/11/2006. Diputados le da al Gobierno un plazo de 30 días para que envíe el plan ambiental previsto por la ley 5.961.


Tribunal a la Minería Transnacional: El caso de Barrick Gold Corporation en Latinoamérica (Chile, Perú y Argentina)

II Foro Social Chile - Santiago de Chile, 25 de Noviembre de 2006

Una vez escuchada a la parte acusadora y defensora, y los testimonios de la Sociedad Civil y comunidades tradicionales de Argentina, Chile y Perú, los Jueces elaboraron el Veredicto y la Sentencia del Juicio.


El Tribunal Público establecido contra la compañía transnacional minera Barrick Gold Corporation, para juzgar su comportamiento ambiental, social, cultural y económico sobre los ecosistemas, comunidades y pueblos de Argentina, Chile y Perú , el cual fue convocado por los movimientos sociales, principalmente organizaciones y redes de campesinos, pequeños productores y ciudadanos.


En atención a los hechos que se han mencionado, con fecha 25 de noviembre de 2006, en el II Foro Social Chile, en donde han comparecido las Partes, Minera Barrick Gold Corporation, y el fiscal Don Javier Rodríguez Pardo, en representación de las comunidades afectadas y los ciudadanos organizados de Argentina, Chile y Perú, quien viene en solicitar que se condene a la demandada a su expulsión de los territorios en Argentina, Chile y Perú, condenando en igual condición, a todas las empresas mineras transnacionales que están operando de manera semejante en dichos territorios.

Que notificada legalmente la demanda, y en razón que se excusó para la comparecencia en este juicio, y teniendo presente este tribunal las normas del debido proceso, se ha designado como abogado defensor a Don Jaime Gallardo Gallardo, quien debidamente notificado, asume la defensa de la parte demandada.


El alegato de apertura del Fiscal Javier Rodríguez Pardo, lo argumentado por la defensa y la declaración de los testigos de Perú, Argentina y Chile, este tribunal considera que la corporación minera Barrick Gold Corporation, comete daños ambientales irreversibles e impactos económicos y sociales irrecuperables en Ancash, Condorhuain, Chilecito, Famatina y Pascua-Lama, al tratarse de comunidades tradicionales, productores pequeños y medianos, ecosistemas extremadamente frágiles y de recursos naturales, que en su condición de bienes comunes y no renovables, se destruyen y agotan en el presente, no quedando disponibles para las futuras generaciones de ciudadanos argentinos, chilenos y peruanos.

Que el impacto ambiental se produce por el manejo indiscriminado del método extractivo utilizado, por lo que no duda este Tribunal que estamos ante un nuevo tipo de minería de carácter transnacional, que deja en la obsolescencia viejos conceptos mineros, dando paso a la utilización de voladuras y lixiviación, con la intensiva utilización de energía y agua subsidiadas, unidos al empleo de variados compuestos tóxicos, los que destruyen cuerpos de agua vitales para la vida, la actividad humana y productiva en las zonas impactadas por dicha transnacional minera.

Que este sistema de explotación minera a cielo abierto, tajo abierto, rajo abierto o cualquier otra denominación análoga, es un tipo de minería creada expresamente para la extracción indiscriminada de los minerales que hoy se encuentran distribuidos ampliamente en kilométricas extensiones de nuestros territorios cordilleranos, que son propiedad de comunidades campesinas ancestrales y productores agropecuarios, muchos desplazados, sin considerar importantes tratados internacionales, como el Convenio 169 de la OIT.

Que por ello, los múltiples daños que se producen al extraer estos minerales de cada vez mas baja ley, no respetan la fragilidad y complejidad de la altas cuencas hídricas, "verdaderas fábricas de agua", que es nuestra Cordillera de los Andes, los sectores pre-cordilleranos y sus estribaciones, donde se encuentra mas del 80 por ciento de los minerales que en este momento forman parte de este enorme daño a nuestros territorios.

Que los pueblos de Argentina, Chile y Perú enfrentan un feroz despojo de sus territorios, a la vez de enfrentar graves problemas medioambientales, que de no detenerse de inmediato, las generaciones futuras de estos países no podrán ejercer su derecho a un nivel de vida adecuado en sus condiciones de existencia, reconocido por el Derecho Internacional de los Derechos Humanos, ya que no se aplican los conceptos de criterio precautorio, enfoque ecosistémico, desarrollo sostenible y equidad social, lo que genera un éxodo de las comunidades próximas a estas infracciones.

Que las experiencias provenientes de lo que Barrick Gold Corporation ha realizado y realiza en distintas latitudes del planeta y en América Latina son las mismas: Obtener la mayor rentabilidad en el menor tiempo posible, junto a la realización de sus dobles negocios, tanto en las bolsas de comercio internacionales como en las ventas de minerales que se extraen a través de leyes nacionales permisivas y de declaraciones juradas basadas en hechos falsos.

Que junto a los minerales motivo de la extracción, también se extraen minerales no denunciados, como son las llamadas "tierras raras", minerales críticos y estratégicos requeridos por la modernidad cibernética, alta tecnología y las necesidades espaciales.

Que se señala que Barrick Gold Corporation comete severos atentados contra los pueblos originarios de las zonas en donde utiliza sus procedimientos, lo que se manifiesta en una auténtica diáspora de estos pueblos que circundan a sus alrededores, lo que genera más pobreza y desprotección de los derechos fundamentales.

Que se sostiene también que Barrick Gold Corporation incurre en severas violaciones a los derechos laborales, por las precarias condiciones de trabajo que impone al permitir continuos accidentes de trabajo y traspasar la cantidad de horas laborales que permiten los convenios internacionales y las leyes nacionales, pago de salarios injustos, despidos irregulares y conculcación de la libertad sindical cada vez que los trabajadores se manifiestan para defender sus derechos, valiéndose de la fatal represión policial que caracteriza a nuestros países.

Que no es posible apreciar mayores índices de desarrollo económico en ninguno de las localidades donde esta minería se ha llevado y se lleva a cabo.

Que en virtud de las consideraciones anteriormente expuestas ante este Tribunal, se resuelve:

Que la minera Barrick Gold Corporation es responsable de graves atentados ambientales, sociales, culturales y económicos, producto de sus políticas, programas y acciones sobre los territorios y pueblos en Argentina, Chile y Perú.

Que se exija al nuevo Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas la aplicación de las normas de Derechos Humanos de la ONU para las empresas, y que se apliquen las correspondientes sanciones contempladas por el derecho internacional de los Derechos Humanos, como las que establece por ejemplo el Convenio sobre responsabilidad civil por los daños causados por actividades peligrosas para el medio ambiente, Convenio de Lugano de 1993 y el Convenio 169 de la OIT.

Que se exija a los Estados, especialmente a los de América Latina, la incorporación a sus legislaciones penales la tipificación con sanción carcelaria de conductas graves que causen daños ecológicos como los que ha cometido la minera Barrick Gold Corporation, hoy sometida a este juicio público.

Que mientras la legalidad internacional no tenga eficacia jurídica en estas materias, se condena a la compañía transnacional minera Barrick Gold a indemnizar inmediatamente y con justicia a las víctimas de sus políticas, programas y acciones, así como la inmediata restauración de los ecosistemas afectados por sus proyectos de inversión minera. Que en consecuencia, este tribunal propone que para el transcurso del próximo año se lleve a cabo un juicio ético de esta misma naturaleza a los gobernantes y funcionarios públicos que legitimaron semejantes atentados ambientales, económicos, sociales y culturales y

Que en atención a esto, el tribunal por mayoría absoluta de sus integrantes acoge la solicitud del fiscal y condena a la demandada a la expulsión de los territorios de dichos pueblos, además de condenar de igual forma a todas las empresas mineras transnacionales que están operando de manera semejante en dichos territorios.

Se deja constancia que el juez don Eduardo Saavedra Díaz, representante de Amnistía Internacional - Chile no concurre al voto de mayoría en lo que se refiere a la expulsión inmediata de la empresa acusada, pero suscribe la totalidad del resto del contenido del presente fallo.

Panel de Jueces

Miguel Palacín Quispe - Coordinadora Andina de Pueblos Indígenas
Juan Carlos Cardenas - Centro Ecoceanos
Eduardo Saavedra Díaz - Amnistía Internacional - Chile
Hermana Cristina Hoar - Depto. Paz Justicia y Ecología, CONFERRE


Por Javier Rodríguez Pardo

Santiago de Chile, diciembre de 2006

El juicio a Barrick ocurrió el 25 de noviembre de 2006, en las instalaciones colmadas de la Facultad de Arquitectura de Santiago de Chile, y fue impactante también para quienes lo siguieron por radio Tierra 1300 AM. Nadie abandonó sus asientos y las puertas del recinto quedaron abiertas para recoger a una audiencia atenta y participativa. Abundaron los registros fotográficos y las cámaras de filmación como si se tratara de un acontecimiento irrepetible. En el piso superior del anfiteatro media docena de documentalistas colocaron sus equipos mezclándose con el público. Agradecí el papel de fiscal y actué en este juicio contra la minera Barick Gold como si realmente siempre hubiera ejercido esa función. Para m no fue una escenificación virtual, fue como una catarsis. Desde los primeros documentos que escribí, "La Macabra Barrick de Bush" y "Barrick Miente", este juicio me permitió un terapéutico desahogo personal. Al conclui, sentí la intensidad del momento mientras la memoria repasaba otra ralidad. Por el escenario habían desfilado los mentores de la corporación: Gorge Bush, el genocida mayor del Imperio. Adnan Khashoggi, el traficante de armas que aportó buena parte de los fondos del paquete societario inicial de Barrick Gold. Imaginé ver en el estrado al propio Peter Munk acompañado por el príncipe Felipe (el consorte) y a otros miembros del Club de las Islas, era el mismo escenario de 1982 cuando se los ve posando juntos en la Bolsa de Toronto. Las imágenes, en fugaz secuencia, me reprodujeron el instante cuando la transnacional exige las páginas de la revista La Séptima, de San Juan, para refutarme. En aquella respuesta (donde se reserva acciones penales en mi contra, que nunca prosperaron) me brinda las pruebas necesarias: George Bush es uno de los accionistas de Barrick Gold (la empresa no lo desmiente) y a sus abogados sólo les preocupa deslindar la responsabilidad del ex presidente norteamericano en la compra de la mina Goldstrike en Nevada (en realidad George Bush le regala 10.000 millones de dólares a Barrick Gold usando tráfico de influencias y presiones políticas, como acostumbra). Antes como ahora, es igual. En los cinco continentes tiene presencia y en todos los casos la forma de operar es tan sombría como siniestra. Regaron tierra africana con la sangre de tres millones de muertos en el Congo, mediante fuerzas paramilitares y enfrentamientos civiles, en pos de minerales críticos y estratégicos: oro, coltan, niobio, uranio, cobalto, petróleo. El mismo destino se cierne sobre Australia donde el pueblo Wiradjuri se opone a la apertura de una mina a cielo abierto a orillas del Lago Cowal, mientras su flamante adquisición, Placer Dome, hace estragos en Filipinas, demandada por daños económicos y ambientales en la isla de Marinduque. También en Indonesia Placer Dome violó derechos del pueblo Davak y destruyó extensa masa boscosa nativa; Placer Dome (o Barrick) practican la influencia política y, si es necesario, la bélica.

Así funciona Barrick Gold

Como fiscal hice la presentación del caso recordando que Esquel, un pueblo de escasos 30.000 habitantes, en la Patagonia Argentina, consiguió expulsar a la minera canadiense Meridian Gold. En aquella ocasión, alertamos que el invasor minero no sólo viene por el oro, sino que viene por todo. Fueron las luchas posteriores y las sucesivas investigaciones las que nos permitieron advertir un método extractivo letal, pensado para el saqueo de los bienes comunes, no renovables, que rapiñan los agentes de la globalización moliendo y regando rocas con sopa química a cielo abierto. El despojo se consuma y es posible debido a leyes apropiadas, gestadas por gobiernos cómplices. Expliqué una vez más cómo y por qué concibieron este sistema extractivo, el consumismo del norte y la escasez de minerales, cada vez de más baja ley. Considero que este mensaje es primordial para poder comprender mejor las reglas del saqueador.

La defensa

La tarea de defender a la empresa demandada le cupo a Jaime Gallardo. Lo hizo de manera profesional, como si hubiera sido contratado por Barrick. Por momentos recogió silbatinas al intentar demostrar que su representada practica una "minería responsable" y alguno que otro exabrupto al querer explicar la renta que deja en el país.

"¿Cuánto le pagaron? ¡Usted es tan corrupto como ellos!" fueron algunos de los reclamos ríspidos que salían de la bandeja superior del anfiteatro, sede del tribunal. Fueron voces superpuestas de mujeres y hombres, tal vez desprevenidos ciudadanos que creyeron estar presenciando el juicio oficial que hubieran deseado, y no consideraron que éste no es vinculante.

El defensor Gallardo actuó de oficio porque la minera, fax mediante, respondió a la invitación del tribunal justificando la ausencia de su presidente. Jaime Gallardo recurrió entonces a la página Web de Barrick. Los argumentos que utilizó la defensa fueron los mismos que la transnacional publicita en Internet y en los medios de prensa.

Testimonios de Perú y Argentina

Víctor Rodríguez, referente de la Cordillera Negra peruana de Huaraz y Juan Navarro (Cordillera Blanca), expusieron el caso de Mina Pierina. Con emocionado silencio se supo que Mina Pierina afecta a las comunidades de la región de Ancash, una docena de poblados que alberga a unos 15.000 habitantes aunque son muchos más los que dependen de sesenta y cuatro ojos de agua que fluyen del cerro Condorwain. Las movilizaciones se suceden contra Barrick Gold, que aún pretende extender sus operaciones mineras con los proyectos Condorwain y Conito. "La escasez de agua por el consumismo y la actividad minera -dijeron los testigos- pone en riesgo nuestra agricultura y ganadería. Los peruanos demandamos a la minera Barrick Misquichilca a que indemnice por daños y perjuicios, y que cese su actividad y expansionismo. Denunciamos además el asesinato de dos vecinos y de otros veinte que resultaron con heridas graves por la violenta represión sufrida al reclamar, cientos de trabajadores de la mina, mejor salario y dignidad en las condiciones laborales." Los mineros bloquearon la ruta de acceso a la planta y reunidos en Huallapampa recibieron la fuerte represión de 30 agentes policiales, empleados de seguridad de la empresa minera. Es la misma fuerza represiva que dejaron los Fujimori y Montesino, socios disimulados de Barrick y de mineras como la de Tambogrande, donde también fueron ejecutados sus líderes. Los testimonios de los comuneros peruanos pormenorizaron casos de enfermedades ocasionadas por la actividad minera y un número elevado de personas con plomo en la sangre. En Perú, se cuentan las muertes con pasmosa frialdad, como un hábito, como cosa de todos los días.

Ana Gloria González, de Chilecito, y Héctor Artuzzo, de Pituil, pequeño pueblo a los pies del Famatina, en la provincia argentina de La Rioja, hablaron sobre sus asambleas y las movilizaciones contra Barrick Gold, que intenta reabrir la centenaria mina La Mejicana en las alturas del Cordón del Famatina. Una sola vertiente promedia 760 litros de agua por segundo, mientras que la minera como mínimo habrá de utilizar 1.000 litros por segundo. Esta ecuación es la gran espada sobre los pueblos campesinos y agroganaderos; a la escasez del agua deben sumar la que inevitablemente contaminará el proyecto minero. En la actualidad existe una cuenca de excesiva acidez (pH2) a 4.500 metros de altura, debido a las antiguas labores de La Mejicana, según reconoce la propia evaluación de impacto ambiental de Barrick en la etapa de prospección. González y Artuzzo afirmaron que "los habitantes de Chilecito y Famatina están dispuestos a proteger con sus vidas los recursos y el ambiente, cerros y paisaje, patrimonio cultural y arqueológico". Y agregaron, "también nuestra agua, nuestra vida y la de las futuras generaciones, porque son nuestros derechos constitucionales los que debemos defender".

Los testigos

El fiscal llamó luego a Lucio Cuenca, del Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales, quien centró su exposición en el impacto ambiental y social que produce la actividad minera de Pascua Lama. "No sólo la futura, sino la presente, porque en esta etapa de prospección, miles de perforaciones y caminos dieron cuenta de un buen número de crioformas y su destrucción es minimizada y ocultada por la empresa." El ambientalista de OLCA describió las negligencias y abusos continuos de Barrick en relación con la presentación de reiterados informes de impacto ambiental adulterados. Glaciares que primero desconoce y luego anuncia su traslado; omite plan de manejo de crioformas, presenta planos incompletos y soborna a regantes, su método frecuente de hacer negocios. Según Lucio Cuenca "hay responsabilidad penal de quienes permiten todo esto y espero que este juicio sentencie duramente a la empresa". El dirigente ecologista efectuó una exhaustiva descripción de los numerosos daños ambientales y auguró un destino incierto para el valle del Huasco, de llevarse a cabo el proyecto Pascua Lama.

Mario Mautz y Javier Campillay son agricultores preocupados por la escasez de agua. Las labores del campo y la realidad empresaria sacudieron el silencio de una sala colmada. Mautz con emoción, hizo referencia una vez más a los glaciares y cursos de agua reflexionando que la práctica minera ya produjo impactos negativos. "¿Quiénes son estos para echarnos del valle, quiénes los autorizaron a instalarse y mentirnos con el cuento de que está todo bien?". Campillay siguió en la misma línea, "lamentando no poder dedicarle más tiempo a la lucha contra Pascua Lama. Barrick lo sabe, especula con los tiempos y con nuestra dedicación al trabajo, pero hace rato empezamos a sentir que esta pelea es vital. Ellos o nosotros."

Verónica Araya explicó la actividad de la red Ayni, un grupo creado para resolver cualquier necesidad de trabajo. Ante preguntas del defensor la testigo ratificó que con artesanías, pequeños emprendimientos e imaginación, podemos reemplazar los puestos de trabajo que Barrick ofrece, sin riesgos de edemas pulmonares ni daños psíquicos debidos al rigor laboral, a cuatro y cinco mil metros de altura. Ya lo estamos haciendo. Su relato abundó en ejemplos: es la respuesta de un sector de la población que opta por ocupaciones genuinas y permanentes.

Le tocó el turno a Julián Alcayaga; al economista le pregunté si era capaz de sintetizar en quince minutos su denuncia expuesta en el "El exilio del cóndor". El libro recoge el daño económico que padece Chile con la privatización del cobre. Produce cada vez más mineral y le ingresa menos renta, menos puestos de trabajo mientras los bienes naturales se van agotando. Paradigma del desarrollo neoliberal. "Miles de millones de dólares -contó Alcayaga- cruzan los océanos mediante declaraciones falsas. Las empresas juran que no tienen ganancias y la mina El Indio de Barrick Gold es una de ellas." Del otro lado de la cordillera es igual, una docena de leyes y veinte ítems entregan gratuitamente el patrimonio argentino. Un canon ridículo, el agua que no pagan, la energía subsidiada y la estabilidad fiscal por treinta años, forman parte del cruel despojo. Alcayaga, y esta fiscalía, "denuncian la inconstitucionalidad del Tratado Binacional Argentino Chileno de Implementación Minera, que construyó un tercer país para las transnacionales y cede de manera secular las cumbres de la Cordillera de los Andes, la llave del saqueo".

Las aberraciones técnicas de esta minería las expuso Hugo González, ingeniero de minas, oriundo de San Juan, Argentina. Supo retrucar las afirmaciones de la defensa acerca de "una minería responsable, de seriedad científica, y de exigentes controles". González recurrió entonces a un documento probatorio del dolo ambiental que comete Barrick. Una circular interna (y privada) de la empresa auditora contratada por la transnacional le exige a ésta que proceda con celeridad para evitar la "constante rotura de la membrana que debe impermeabilizar el dique de colas de Veladero", a metros del proyecto Pascua Lama. El reclamo deja constancia de la negligencia e imprudencia de la técnica utilizada en la ocasión. (Nosotros teníamos además otro informe donde se exige soldar la membrana cada 20 metros, "aunque no sea la solución apropiada"). El ingeniero González aludió luego a otro documento (entregó ambos en la mesa del tribunal), sobre la conformación del capital societario, la imposibilidad de accionar legalmente contra las transnacionales, y el origen legal de las mineras subsidiarias de Barrick con sede en paraísos fiscales. Hugo González se refirió luego al impacto del método minero a cielo abierto, a las voladuras y partículas en suspensión que generalmente se omiten en los informes de impacto ambiental, y a los drenajes ácidos. Aspectos que Barrick apenas menciona.

Los glaciares retornaron con la intervención del concejal de Alto del Carmen, Luis Faura. Con él habíamos recorrido, hace un par de años, buena parte de Valle del Huasco y sabíamos que su activismo le permitía conocer las interrelaciones de gobernantes y minera. Sobre eso habló Faura, acerca de cohechos, dádivas y tráfico de influencias. Destacó los glaciares de roca denunciados por los regantes del valle, la opinión de los glaciólogos sobre la complejidad del ecosistema andino a 4.500 metros de altura, la destrucción de la fábrica del agua y el esfuerzo de Barrick por ocultar las crioformas que alimentan a las cuencas de agua. "Los valles cordilleranos, sin los glaciares, irán desapareciendo. En la localidad del Huasco, setenta mil habitantes principalmente familias agricultoras, piensan en un virtual éxodo. La puesta en marcha de Pascua Lama - dijo Faura - destruirá uno de los valles más fértiles de la región de Coquimbo."

Enseguida, la finísima voz de Adriana Campillay sacudió con aplausos las cinco horas transcurridas del juicio oral a Barrick. Las explotaciones mineras se ensañan con los pueblos originarios que se ven desplazados de sus territorios, porque ahora cuentan con un método diabólico para extraer los minerales diseminados. La anciana de la comunidad huascoaltina, con arrolladora vitalidad, se refirió a una cultura ancestral mancillada y sin protección alguna. Reclamó con énfasis "justicia para todas las poblaciones olvidadas" y sus palabras adelantaron la condena de Barrick.

Nuestro alegato

En principio me dirigí al tribunal (y al auditorio) con el Informe Técnico del Proyecto Pascua Lama rubricado por la ingeniera agrónoma Claudia A. Cantoni, el seis de octubre del corriente, en la provincia argentina de San Juan. Claudia Cantoni integra la Comisión Interdisciplinaria de Evaluación Ambiental Minera para el Proyecto Pascua Lama. Creí oportuno y trascendente que ambos pueblos andinos supieran que el proyecto está demorado por éste y otros informes críticos. Pero sin esperanzas mayores. Sólo demorado.

La minera omitió la existencia de glaciares y ante el reclamo de los regantes chilenos admite que hay sólo tres: Toro I, Toro II y Esperanza. Considera que son pequeños e irrelevantes, pero las denuncias comienzan a llover y modifica el Informe de Impacto Ambiental con un plan de manejo de glaciares que no resiste el menor análisis: "los trasladará de lugar, los llevará a un cuarto glaciar próximo, denominado Guanaco".

"¿Cómo?" Le preguntan los regantes.

"Con palas mecánicas", contestó Barrick.

Esto es lo que se sabía. Pero la COREMA primero y la CONAMA después autorizaron el entuerto aceptando la palabra final de la empresa de que no los habrá de intervenir, ni de mover. En realidad, persigue que le acepten la Declaración de Impacto Ambiental (DIA), y acordará lo que sea necesario.

Del lado argentino la patraña va en aumento. Ofrece un informe donde se aprecia un mapa sin un glaciar. El mismo plano fue presentado en Chile con él. El hecho forma parte de una denuncia, recurso legal que deambula por los estrados judiciales de la provincia sanjuanina.

Pero volvamos al informe técnico de Cantoni, de 31 páginas, que va más lejos, dice que "se puede afirmar que las cuencas de los arroyos Canito, Turbio y río Turbio presentan un régimen glacinival. Se observa hielo intersticial a los 4.800 metros de altura, en cortes del camino hacia el glaciar Guanaco, lo que indicaría la presencia de permafrost (glaciares de roca) discontinuo." (La minera no menciona ni considera los glaciares de roca) El informe observa que los datos metereológicos de los vientos fueron tomados de Chile y que no se estudiaron los del lado argentino. Que el material particulado afectará la tasa de derretimiento de los glaciares y adelantará la extinción de los mismos. Que Barrick testeó el material particulado en inmediaciones del campamento y omitió el resto del ecosistema donde justamente actuará con el método extractivo a cielo abierto. Que a través de más de nueve puntos se evalúa un impacto negativo y serias falencias técnicas en la DIA. No se investigó lo que debería haberse hecho, por ejemplo, estudiar el comportamiento de glaciares, algunos con más de 160 metros de profundidad. Al mismo tiempo se advierte un delito evidente en la forma en que se desafectó el sitio de explotación del resto de la Reserva de Biosfera de San Guillermo. El meticuloso informe técnico del que participaron especialistas de disciplinas diversas, concluye que: "Por lo expuesto -firma Claudia A. Cantoni- no apruebo la Declaración de Impacto Ambiental (DIA) presentada ante esta Comisión Interdisciplinaria de Evaluación Ambiental Minera, por la empresa minera Barrick, sobre el Proyecto Pascua Lama".

Tal es nuestro alegato.

La promiscuidad con que operan estas transnacionales. Barrick presentó un Informe de Impacto Ambiental para Veladero donde los insumos principales son el cianuro de sodio y la cal. No considera insumos al agua que usará (más de 1.000 litros por segundo), ni a la energía. En realidad, no paga por el agua. Si lo hiciera debería cobrársele el valor que fija la Oficina Minera de Estados Unidos, que en 1976, costaba 0.10 centavos de dólar el metro cúbico (0,10 centavos cada1.000 litros). Y la energía la recibe subsidiada. La empresa fue multada con 240.000 pesos por el vertido de gasoil en las cumbres de Veladero y Pascua Lama porque es más económico este combustible que utilizar los aditivos especiales recomendados. Es opinión generalizada en San Juan que Barrick nunca pagó la multa. El gobernador de la provincia y su hermano, actual senador nacional, son propietarios de Santa Gema Bentonita, que provee de insumos mineros a la corporación Barrick Gold.

Esta es la minería responsable, la misma que quemó y enterró los sobrantes del campamento de Pascua Lama, al finalizar la prospección. Que provocó la muerte de aves y fauna local al envenenar roedores surgidos de los contenedores, en inusual cadena trófica. Que destrozó el glaciar Conconta para ensanchar el camino y acceder a la planta; que reemplazó la vega de Veladero por el dique de colas. Esta es la minera que soborna y corrompe, que tan pronto decide ultimar trabajadores como eliminar cualquier oposición, con dinero o con la fuerza de sus mercenarios. Ahí está el camino a Veladero controlado por neocelandeses y matones, los asesinatos de mina Pierina, los del Congo, Tanzania o de Papúa en Nueva Guinea. La minera del Imperio Global.

Este es nuestro alegato inconcluso. Sí, inconcluso. Sólo una minúscula exposición de alegato, que alcanza para que este tribunal condene a Barrick Gold Corporation a abandonar los territorios de América Latina. Exigimos su inmediata expulsión. Pero además esta fiscalía solicita que sea este Tribunal quien determine otro juicio semejante, a realizarse en el transcurso del año 2007, a gobernantes y funcionarios públicos que firmaron, permitieron y aceptaron semejante daño ambiental, económico, social y cultural.

Javier Rodríguez Pardo, fiscal del juicio a Barrick Gold. Tribunal Foro Social de Chile, 25 de noviembre de 2006.- Santiago de Chile.

Parte de la sentencia que consta de tres páginas:

Que en consecuencia, este tribunal propone que para el transcurso del próximo año se lleve a cabo un juicio ético de esta misma naturaleza a los gobernantes y funcionarios públicos que legitimaron semejantes atentados ambientales, económicos, sociales y culturales y

Que en atención a esto, el tribunal por mayoría absoluta de sus integrantes acoge la solicitud del fiscal y condena a la demandada a la expulsión de los territorios de dichos pueblos, además de condenar de igual forma a todas las empresas mineras transnacionales que están operando de manera semejante en dichos territorios.

Se deja constancia que el juez don Eduardo Saavedra Díaz, representante de Amnistía Internacional - Chile no concurre al voto de mayoría en lo que se refiere a la expulsión inmediata de la empresa acusada, pero suscribe la totalidad del resto del contenido del presente fallo.

Panel de Jueces

Miguel Palacín Quispe - Coordinadora Andina de Pueblos Indígenas
Juan Carlos Cardenas - Centro Ecoceanos
Eduardo Saavedra Díaz - Amnistía Internacional - Chile
Hermana Cristina Hoar - Depto. Paz Justicia y Ecología CONFERRE



Personería Jurídica No. 000109 del 18 de enero de 1996


El sindicato Nacional de los trabajadores de la Industria del Carbón "Sintracarbón", ante los últimos hechos ocurridos en el país, y más concretamente en la costa caribe colombiana, a raíz de la coyuntura política de la desmovilización de los grupos paramilitares y del escándalo acontecido en los últimos días, por los vínculos de algunos políticos con estos grupos, a quienes los medios de comunicación han llamado parapoliticos, y los cuales se encuentran investigados en este momento por la Corte suprema de Justicia por la creación de grupos paramilitares y la organización de masacres y desmovilizaciones en la costa caribe colombiana, de forma paralela a estos acontecimientos un grupo que se autodenomina "Las Aguilas Negras" ha venido haciendo circular panfletos donde realizan amenazas de muerte a dirigentes sindicales, estudiantiles, populares y demás compañeros pertenecientes a la Central Unitaria de Trabajadores "CUT".

En días pasados a través de estos panfletos dieron a conocer sus amenazas de muerte a los dirigentes sindicales de la Unión Sindical Obrera "USO", y a los lideres estudiantiles de la Universidad de Cartagena, además de un ultimátum para abandonar la ciudad.

El Compañero Rodolfo Vecino dirigente sindical de la "USO" fue objeto de un atentado de muerte suponemos que por parte de este grupo paramilitar que se hace llamar las Aguilas Negras, del cual el Compañero afortunadamente salió ileso.

Al compañero Domingo Tovar dirigente ejecutivo de la Central Unitaria de trabajadores "CUT Nacional" y asesor en este momento de la Comisión Negociadora de "Sintracarbón", al igual que su familia en el Departamento de Sucre ha sido objeto de hostigamientos y amenazas por parte de estos grupos.

En el día de ayer apareció un panfleto en la universidad del Atlántico, con similares características donde se le da un ultimátum para que abandonen la Ciudad de Barranquilla a dirigentes sindicales, estudiantiles y populares de lo contrario serán asesinados. Entre estos se encuentran las siguientes organizaciones:

• Miembros de la Federación estudiantil Universitaria. (FEU)

• Dignidad Estudiantil

• Visión Democrática

• Federación Universitaria Nacional (Comisiones) (FUN)

• Asociación Colombiana de Estudiantes Universitarios (A.C.E.U)


Finalmente queremos dar a conocer la manera como finalizan el panfleto este grupo paramilitar:

"El papel no nos alcanza para colocar todos sus nombres y organizaciones que sirven como fachada para hacer su trabajo insurgente, estos hijos de puta, gonorreas, pero ahí están sus principales cabecillas pero todos aquellos vinculados directamente con todo este tipo de personas y organizaciones afíliense a una FUNERARIA".

Ante todas estas amenazas, intimidaciones, hostigamientos y ultimátum a los dirigentes estudiantiles, populares y sindicales"SINTRACARBÓN" rechaza de forma enérgica este tipo de amenazas, que violan los derechos fundamentales, la libertad de asociación, la libertad de expresión, y por tal motivo realiza esta denuncia a nivel local, nacional e internacional.


Empresas mineras canadienses promueven la violencia en el Ecuador

Decienbre 7 2006 - ECUADOR

Las organizaciones de derechos humanos, ambientalistas, poblacionales y demás colectivos sociales que firmamos este comunicado, denunciamos al país y a la comunidad internacional, que las empresas canadienses Corrientes Resources, bajo el nombre de Ecuacorrientes y la Ascendant Copper Corporation (con capitales estadounidenses-canadienses) están cometiendo una serie de atropellos a los derechos humanos de las comunidades indígenas y campesinas de Morona Santiago, Zamora Chinchipe e Imbabura.

En la zona de Intag (Imbabura) se han producido ataques armados durante las primeras semanas de noviembre y diciembre del presente año, promovido por la empresa minera Ascendant Copper en contra de las comunidades y gobiernos locales que defienden su territorio.

La Ascendant violentando el derecho de consulta previa establecido en la Constitución Política de la República, al parecer ha decido tomar por asalto la zona de Junín, Cerro Pelado y otras zonas aledañas. Al hacerlo han agredido a las comunidades con grupos armados de seguridad y paramilitares, quienes usando armas de fuego, armas cortopunzantes y bombas lacrimógenas, han atacado a la población.

Nos preocupa sobremanera la conformación de estos grupos paramilitares con miembros del Ejército en servicio pasivo, tal como lo denuncian las comunidades. Algunas personas que fueron reclutadas en la misma zona de Intag dieron a conocer que recibieron adiestramiento militar.

Más aún, las federaciones indigenas Shuar, Saraguros como las poblaciones de Gualaquiza, El Pangui, Yantzantza, Yunganza y, Bomboiza de las provincias de Zamora Chinchipe y Morona Santiago, han vivido una escalada de violencia y represión por parte de miembros del ejército ecuatoriano, quienes sin explicación han incluído entre sus actividades la defensa de la empresa Corrientes Resources.

Un número todavía no determinado de campesinos e indígenas incluidas varias mujeres, han sido víctimas de represión con gases lacrimógenos, uso de armas de fuego, agresión física y privación ilegal de la libertad. El diputado por Zamora Chinchipe, Salvador Quishpe, quien ha venido apoyando a la población, fue detenido por militares, amordazado, agredido físicamente y trasladado a un retén militar donde permaneció incomunicado por varias horas. Al momento no concluye el conteo de víctimas.

La oposición de miles de personas de las dos provincias amazónicas frente a este proyecto minero, tuvo el 12 de noviembre pasado una respuesta alentadora por parte del Gobierno, cuando el Ministro de Trabajo, José Serrano, en calidad de delegado del Presidente de la República, firmó en la ciudad de Macas un "acta compromiso" mediante la cual se acordó la suspensión inmediata de las actividades de la empresa minera en la provincia de Morona Santiago. A pesar de ello, la Corrientes Resources no ha detenido sus operaciones .

Denunciamos además el permanente hostigamiento, amenazas de muerte, agresiones físicas y sicológicas, y persecución a líderes comunitarios y defensores ambientalistas y pobladores. Estas transnacionales mineras utilizan irresponsablemente la justicia nacional para apresar a pobladores e interponer juicios con causas forjadas, como forma de disuasión y amedrentamiento.

Exigimos a las autoridades del Gobierno, principalmente a los Ministros de Gobierno y de Defensa, su inmediata actuación para defender a las poblaciones y la soberanía nacional. Solicitamos que el Ministerio de Defensa disponga la no intervención militar en estos conflictos.

Condenamos la actuación de las empresas mineras antes indicadas, así como la inercia de las autoridades que ha permitido que transnacionales actúen al margen de la ley, permitiendo inclusive la acción represiva de parte de miembros de la Fuerza Terrestre en servicio pasivo y de grupos privados creados por las empresas para este fin.

Resaltamos que la Constitución Política de la República, establece que "Las Fuerzas Armadas tendrán como misión fundamental la conservación de la soberanía nacional y la defensa de la integridad e independencia del Estado".

Demandamos la investigación y sanción de todas las conductas que constituyen violaciones de derechos humanos, cometidas tanto por agentes del Estado como por los representantes de las empresas transnacionales que actúan con el respaldo del Estado.

Por nuestra parte, nos mantendremos vigilantes y conjuntamente realizaremos las acciones que sean pertinentes ante instancias nacionales e internacionales a fin de que los hechos denunciados no queden en la impunidad. Al mismo tiempo, manifestamos nuestro respaldo a las comunidades que están defendiendo el patrimonio del Estado y los bienes públicos de manera valiente, digna y soberana.

CEDHU, CNC, CEDES, ACJ, Fundación Pueblo Indio, Humanas, ALTERCOM, Pájaros Contra Escopetas, REMTE, Coalición No Bases, SERPAJ, CONAIE, APDH, INREDH, CAS, CONAICE, Red Ecologista Popular, Acción Ecológica

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