Latin American Update
Latin American Update
17th May 2006
Minister Vows to Recover Bolivia Natural Resources
17th May 2006
UNITED NATIONS - Bolivia's foreign minister said on Monday his government would carry out plans to nationalize land, timber, silver and water resources but promised "legal security" and profits to foreign investors.
Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca Cespedes addressed a news conference at the start of an 11-day United Nations international forum on indigenous peoples, attended by hundreds of delegates from around the world.
"We are going to recover all of our national resources," Choquehuanca said. "We do not wish to stand by to any looting or pillaging of our national resources. We have laws and foreign investors have to abide by these laws and rules." "What we wish to do is to provide legal security for foreign investments," he said.
President Evo Morales, who was elected by a landslide vote in December and is Bolivia's first president of indigenous descent, on May 1 proclaimed government control of the country's oil and gas industry and gave foreign investors 180 days to negotiate new contracts.
Bolivia's reserves of natural gas are the largest in South America after Venezuela's.
Morales also said at the time that other sectors of the economy would be nationalized.
Choquehuanca said next on the government list of reforms were redistribution of land "in a equitable manner," especially large plantations with absentee owners, forestry, silver mines and timber as well as new water rights.
"The multinational companies are not about to leave Bolivia. They will continue to make a profit, and in no way are we impacting on their profit," he said.
"We are simply changing the rules of the game -- the rules of the game which up until then were to their benefit. The rules of the game which did not allow the income generated to be to the benefit of our people," Choquehuanca said.
He said Bolivia was making progress on the issue in discussions with the French, Spanish and Brazilian governments, whose nationals had interests in the country.
The minister was attending the fifth session of the UN Forum on Indigenous Issues, complete with musicians and dancers. Participants sought to work out strategies to improve the environment, development, education, health and human rights of some 370 million indigenous peoples in 70 nations.
In a video message to the forum, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, now visiting Asia, said the forum was meant to give practical effect to programs that would benefit "all indigenous peoples -- from the northern reaches of the Arctic to the pastoralist communities of Africa."
He called on all countries to translate programs "into reality on the ground" and establish a system that would ensure participation and consent of indigenous communities in projects by the World Bank and other financial institutions.
Story by Evelyn Leopold
Ascendant Copper Corporation Meets Resistance in Ecuador
Written by Cyril Mychalejko
Upside Down World
15th May 2006
In spite of criticism and resistance from local residents, Canadian mining company Ascendant Copper Corporation has big plans for its two large mining operations in Ecuador. "We are confident that Ecuador will grow to be one of the world's great copper districts," said Gary E. Davis, President and CEO of Ascendant.
Analysts at eResearch, a Canadian investment research firm, released a cautiously optimistic report on the company earlier this month.
"Ascendant Copper is flush with cash and about to embark on an aggressive exploration program. It expects to commence drilling on one of the properties later this year, after an environmental impact study has been completed," the report stated.
The property that Ascendant is eagerly awaiting to start drilling is its Junin Project, located in Intag region of Ecuador. The report also states that "provided the Company can advance its projects forward in a timely and positive manner, we believe there is considerable upside for the [Company’s] shares from current levels over the longer term."
But whether Davis’ dream of turning Ecuador into "one of the world’s great copper districts" may very well begin and end with his company’s Junin Project.
Perception is Reality?
To determine how Ascendant’s project in Junin is going, a lot depends on who you ask. According to Davis, the project has huge support from local residents. He concedes that there is a vocal opposition to the project, but that by his count it doesn’t exceed 40 residents from the immediate area and 100 people altogether. "Every project has its naysayers," said Davis.
Ascendant Building, Destroyed 12/05
But Davis’ rosy outlook may not reflect reality on the ground. Just last December approximately 70 local mining opponents burnt down one of the company’s buildings with close to 300 people taking responsibility for it. (There was a community meeting hours earlier where they all voted to burn the building as an act of protest). There is also a letter signed by all 7 local Parish government presidents asking the Ministry of Energy and Mines to invoke a 5-year moratorium on all mining activities in Intag. In addition, the company faces possible legal hurdles which include the validity of its Environmental Impact Study (EIS) as well as the possibility that the company’s concessions are not legally binding due to the State violating the constitutional rights of local residents by not consulting them prior to the transaction.
"There are a lot of irregularities with the project and we want them to stop the whole process," said Isabela Figueroa, a Human Rights lawyer representing people affected by the project in Intag.
Opponents of the mine say that when the government failed to consult Intag residents before allowing the transfer of the Junin copper concessions to Ascendant, the government violated Article 88 of the Ecuadorian Constitution. The Article guarantees that any government decision that would have an impact on the environment must include prior consultation with the communities affected.
In May 2003 a Constitutional Injunction against Roque Bernardo Bustamante Espinoza (who sold the concession rights to Ascendant) was filed at the Imbabura Civil Court. The court’s decision, based on Article 88, annulled the "Golden 1" and "Golden 2" concession transfers to the company. However, an appeal was filed with Ecuador’s Constitutional Tribunal. The Tribunal ruled in a 5-4 decision to overturn the lower court ruling and allow the transfer of the concessions.
Ascendant’s Davis argues that the government has never violated any law on the matter. "At the time that there is a proposed undertaking of concessions is when there has to be consultations, and that’s what we are doing [with the EIS]," said Davis.
But Figueroa, who has worked on human rights and indigenous rights cases in Brazil, Ecuador and before with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, said that Davis is confusing the role of the company with the role of the State.
The constitution mandates that the government consult the communities, not a foreign corporation. And although the tribunal overturned the initial ruling, the decision doesn't set a bad precedent because it didn’t discuss the case’s merits. The ruling was based on a technicality, leaving the door open to present another constitutional injunction. Although the tribunal overturned the initial ruling the decision doesn’t set precedent, and motions are currently being filed to execute another injunction against the transfer.
Davis’ mention of the company’s EIS for the first exploration phase in the Junin project is causing more legal wrangling. Figuerora, who is also working against Ascendant with fellow lawyer Alejandro Ponce and NGO’s Defensa y Concervacion Ecologica de Intag (DECOIN), Comisión Ecumenica de Derechos Humanos (CEDHU) and ECOLEX-which specializes in environmental litigation, believes that the company failed to follow proper protocol with its EIS when it failed to get consult the communities regarding the Terms of Reference (ToR). The ToR’s essentially outline how and what the company will study regarding the project’s impact on the local environment.
Ascendant is also required to have the ToR’s approved by the Ministry of Energy and Mines prior to beginning the study. The company has already made the EIS public.
An April 20, 2006 letter sent to the Ivan Rodriguez, Minister of Energy and Mines, by presidents and representatives of local communities, parishes and the Municipality of Cotacachi, states that "by attempting to publicize it in our zone, the company is not only committing illegal actions that are also legal reasons for nullification, but also generate confusion within communities in the area, that could lead to tension that is the concern and duty of all public authorities…to prevent."
Davis said that he interprets the law to mean that the ToR’s need to be approved before the EIS is socialized, not before work on the EIS can begin. He said that any discrepancy with the law was due to miscommunication. The company has submitted the ToR’s with feedback from the community to the MEM and he said he believes that he will get approval "any day now." He added that not having it approved doesn’t negate any of the work already done on the EIS. The company has already taken water, air and soil samples, as well as flora and fauna. Figueroa said that Davis is wrong with his interpretation and is arbitrarily choosing which laws his company decides to follow.
"Mr. Davis is just declaring his company acted against Ecuadorian law. Not only must the ToR’s be approved before the EIS socialization, but before its elaboration," said Figueroa. "That’s stated in Article 20 of Unified Text for Secondary Environmental Legislation."
Davis said that after the Ministry of Energy and Mines approves the ToR´s the company will make any necessary changes to the EIS and set up an office in Garcia Moreno for two weeks to socialize the document and elicit comment from the public. The company is required to present the report in non-technical, accessible language. Although most people in the area don’t have a high school education, Davis is confident the report will be readable. "I think most people on the street will be able to read it and understand it," said Davis.
Legal claims have been filed to nullify the study’s ToR’s and Figueroa is awaiting response from the Ministry of Energy and Mines and other government officials.
In addition, there are also disputes over the company allegedly purchasing land designated for agricultural use, as well as the project possibly violating an ecological ordinance passed by Cotacachi County that designates the area an ecological zone where mining is prohibited.
Friends of the Earth-Canada (FOE-CA) and MiningWatch Canada launched "No Means No to Ascendant Copper in Ecuador" campaign on May 3 and simultaneously released a new documentary titled.
"The Curse of Copper" which can be viewed at www.ascendantalert.ca. The campaign urges the Canadian junior mining company to respect the wishes of local communities and local environmental laws.
"The Intag Cloud Forest is blessed with some of the most important biodiversity on the planet," said Beatrice Olivastri, Chief Executive Officer of FOE-CA. She said the company should respect the wishes of the local community and leave immediately.
"What part of no does Ascendant not understand?" asked Oliverati.
Davis dismisses most of the environmental concerns as "rhetoric" and "overstated."
"This is not a pristine area," said Davis. But he also added that the company is committed to protecting the environment. He said that despite popular beliefs no cyanide will be used at the mine. He also said that mines today are zero discharge—that no water is ever released from mines.
Carlos Zorrilla, Executive Director of DECOIN, said that Davis is wrong on every aspect of his environmental analysis. He points to an evaluation of the local environment by the Ecuadorian Environemnetal Organization Jatun Sacha. In a June 2005 study called Estudio de la Caracterizacion Ecologica de la Reserva Comunitaria Junin (Study of the Ecological Characterization of Junin’s Community Reserve) the organization found that the area contained 60.3 percent primary, or "natural forest" and another 16.3 percent "slightly disturbed natural forest."
Zorrilla said that Davis will never admit that the area is primary forest or "pristine" because it would cause problems for the company. Zorrilla also scoffs at the notion that there would be no water run-off at the mine. He said that because of the vast amount of rainfall in the area along with the large amounts of subsurface water that there is no way that there will be no discharge.
In addition, he points to an EIS conducted by the Japanese mining company Bishi Metals. The company’s study concluded that there would be contamination of water supplies, as well as other environmental destruction such as massive deforestation and climate change. The company owned the concession in Junin in the 1990´s before leaving after a couple hundred local residents burned the company’s mining camp down. Ascendant recognizes this (on its website) as a "major revolt by local communities," yet Davis insists that any current opposition, despite larger numbers, is a minority voice.
Davis said that the operation is only in the first phase of exploration and that there will be at least two other exploration programs over the next four years before any decision is made regarding the possible commercialization of the project. And he said that this remains a "big if."
Yet if the mine does become commercialized he believes that it would bring many benefits to the local communities from the development that would accompany it. By his approximation the mine would last between 40 and 80 years.
"If the mine becomes commercialized it would bring hospitals and service organizations, as well as Wendy’s and McDonald’s," said Davis.
Cyril Mychalejko is the assistant editor of www.UpsideDownWorld.org, and is currently based in Ecuador.
IN INTAG EVEN THE DEAD SUPPORT MINING!
By Carlos Zorrilla
14th May 2006
This could be one for Ripley's Believe it or Not. Today I got a hold of a document with a lot of nonsense about an assembly supporting the work of the mining company in Intag, and rejecting the presence of Carlos Zorrilla, for leading the opposition against the mining project. Further down, the fictional assembly agrees to reject the presence of the other 3 "bad" foreigners: Jose Decoux, Denis Laporta and Mary Ellen Fieweger (they also included me here too for good measure). Strangely, the document does not list a single community representative present at the imaginary assembly.
So far nothing unusual, the pro-mining faction have tried this idiotic strategy plenty of times before without success. BUT THIS TIME, one of the persons signing said document has been dead for quite a while! No kidding; as in deceased, departed, stiff, dead, muerto - and buried six feet underground.
My hat's off to Ascendant and their miraculous power to get stiffs to sign petitions asking for the expulsion of foreigners from Ecuador!! This could be one hell of a lot more profitable than their much troubled billion-dollar copper mine. As far as I know, there are no laws requiring Environmental Impact Statement to get dead people's signatures, nor to socialize the Terms of Reference!
Another funny thing related to this latest circus show was the fact that people going around getting the signatures, were doing so on Thursday and Friday - for a "community assembly" that was supposed to have taken place on Wednesday!
The document had about 100 empty spaces for people to sign, but only 9 were with signatures. That´s including the dead guy.
We were told that the nice people going around the communities getting the signatures all worked for Daimi Services, who was contracted by Ascendant to convince people of the wonders of mining. Well, now we know there's at least one dead guy who's convinced!
Protests Against Canadian Mining Firm in Ecuador
Associated Press and CRE
3rd May 2006
QUITO -- Campesinos in the south of Ecuador blockaded several stretches of the Panamerican highway on Wednesday to protest the gold mining operations of Canadian firm Iamgold (http://www.iamgold.com/). Residents of Tarqui and Victoria del Portete, located some 400 kilometers south of Quito, oppose the presence of the mining firm in the area because they will be affected by the gold mining operations.
"They are exploring, they haven't begun mining operations, and when they begin to mine the gold... then the contamination will come," said Carlos Pérez, leader of the Federation of Campesinos of Azuay on television Channel 8. He added that "they will take our water away because (the mine location) is the headwaters of the rivers Tarqui, Irquis and Yanuncai."
The campesinos blocked the highway with stones, logs and mounds of earth. "Water is more valuable than gold," stated one of the banners carried by protesters. The highway, which connects the provinces of El Oro and Loja was to be reopened Wednesday at midnight.
In Ecuador, the Canadian firm Iamgold is owner of some 12,500 hectacres, upon which since 2002, they have developed the mining project Quimsacocha and have carried out exploratory works and drilling, according to their internet page.
Peruvian Congressman Denounces Doe Run's "Subversive Attitude"
Press release : Movement for Health of La Oroya
Lima, Peru. May 13, 2006. Peruvian Congressman and member of the Congressional Commission on Energy and Mining, Carlos Infantas, announced that the Doe Run Company "is showing a subversive attitude, in an attempt to use pressure and violence so that the population supports its point of view".
Infantas made the comments after hearing that La Oroya's mayor, Clemente Quincho, is organizing a public march this Monday, 15 May, in support of the Doe Run Company's controversial request to postpone compliance with Peru's air pollution laws at its smelter in the city of La Oroya, Peru. Doe Run has admitted that its smelter emits daily more than 1000 tons of lead, arsenic, sulphur dioxide, and cadmium over La Oroya's population of 35,000. A study conducted last August by scientists from St. Louis University (Missouri) found that 97.2% of La Oroya's children suffer from "worrisome levels" of lead poisoning and other toxic metals, including arsenic and mercury.
Although Doe Run committed to reduce the La Oroya smelter's air pollution to legal limits by January 2007, the company has indicated it will not be able to meet that obligation and has requested the Peruvian Government to postpone the compliance deadline four more years.
"The Company must have pushed (the mayor) to do this or made promises of some kind to him. Those are the tactics Doe Run tends to use," added Congressman Infantas. The congressman added that Doe Run, on numerous occasions, has used a well-funded public relations campaign to polarize and create conflict among residents of the city, especially recently when the Government of Peru is evaluating the company's postponement request.
Regarding the Doe Run-requested postponement, Infantas noted that "the damage to the environment and to human health has been proven and a postponement of Doe Run's obligations would only make a mockery of the country's laws. I hope that the company's PAMA is not postponed"
The congressman said he would call Minister Glodomiro Sánchez before the Congressional Commission on Energy and Mining next week to explain the postponement request's evaluation process as well as the alternatives the Ministry would propose in the event it denies the company's request. Infantas complained that Doe Run pollutes the environment, does not pay the legally required mineral rights, is not in compliance with Peruvian law, and only causes damage.
Last week, an American environmental scientist, Dr. Mark Chernaik of Eugene, OR, published projections showing that 9 people probably die each year in La Oroya as a result of Doe Run's air pollution. Using data provided by a Doe Run-sponsored report, he noted that the arsenic levels in La Oroya made the probability of contacting cancer there 2000 times higher than the maximum acceptable level established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Suyo District Firms Opposition to Big Mining: If the Big Companies Enter, the People Will Blockade the Routes PERÚ
12th May 2006 - El Regional de Piura
The Peruvian district of Cuyo was clear in its position towards mining: "NO" to the big mining companies and "YES" to the artesanal mining in the area, but if and only if it is organized and it is verified that there will not be environmental contamination. If this decision is not respected, or in the case that big companies or foreign mining companies want to enter, responses on the part of the community will include popular uprisings and the occupation of the highways. The decision was taken this past Wednesday in an assembly facilitated by the Father Eduardo Peña Rivera, President of the Roundtable for Coordination and Struggle Against Poverty in the District of Suyo. "The proposal is that there be an appropriate decision-making process, to see the advantages and disadvantages. If we do opt for mining projects, then we will opt for them, but without contamination. We cannot harm the artesanal miners of our community, but we cannot put the people at risk. There is a lack of investigation to see if the artesanal miners are contaminating, and for this, we want the research done by experts. We don't want to have bread today but poverty in the future," said Peña.
For the parish, the danger is that Suyo will be converted into "no-man's land, Suyo losing its identity, its customs, already we see that morals are decaying, with the appearance of cantinas and prostitution." He said that social disorganization is a problem in artesanal mining: "There is mineral all over Suyo, and there are pits all over the place, clearcutting of trees, possible contaminations, and, well, what will it be like in 5 to 8 years? The situation will just be more complicated if big mining companies, be they national or transnational, enter. The people have a right to live like children of god," said the priest.
The mayor of Suyo, Elizabeth Sánchez Infante, says that the residents of the district are opposed to the big mining companies. "The community rejects the big miners, because they contaminate, because they will take everything, the people are afraid that the "hacendado" (hacienda system) will return. Furthermore we want to formalize the companies, we want to know who are the miners here, for the are saying that mining companies are attempting through third parties to infiltrate the communities, we want to know more about this," she concluded.
Carlos Vega Aguilera, Vice President of the Committee for the Defense of the Interests of Suyo, said that the big mining companies are using some artesanal miners as "straw men, in order to enter and gain social license." To this respect, Carmen Amelia Morán, of the Campesino Community of Pampalarga, presented a documentation of thirty-nine complaints against miners in the community. According to the community leader, these complaints cover the entire communal area: "100 percent of the community lands have mining complaints -- that is, 40,000 hectacres of our community, where there is a dry forest, where our cows and animals are, and where there are two headwaters systems, El Calvas and the Quiroz. For this, the campesino community of Pampalarga is never going to grant social license to the big mining companies."
Some relevant facts
On February 27, 2006, community members took over the mining encampment of Tomapampa del Quiroz, saying that the Duarco company, which operates in the area, does not want to dialoge with the Campesino Community of the area. The encampment remains in the control of the community.
According to the community members of Pampalarga, Carmen Ameila Madrid Morán was reelected President of the community; but a group of community members who work for the mining companies have declared themselves to be leaders of the community. The case was brought to the courts, and for the community members it is a case which shows to what lengths the companies will go to try to obtain social license: supporting the creation of parallel leaders and laws.
On May 14, 2006, members of the Campesino Community of Pampalarga-Suyo prevented a small sector of the "leaders" from trying to sign agreements with companies who have been denounced. At the blockaded meeting were representatives of the regional Commission of Mining and Energy.
March Against Mining Exploration in Northwest Chubut
Communique of the Comarcal Assembly Against Plunder
(El Hoyo, May 15 2006) In the afternoon of May 14, around 600 residents of towns in northwest Chubut, Argentina, carried out a demonstration at the crossing of the river Pedregoso and National Route 40, at the outskirts of the townships of El Hoyo and Epuyén. The purpose was to act in solidarity with the residents who are struggling to not be evicted from their lands and to again affirm the overwhelming rejection of mining projects in the region, opposition which was already shown in the popular consult carried out in March 2003 where 98% of the population declared themselves against the mining project of Meridian Gold.
Participants also urged the Provincial governor of Chubut to inform the mountain communities about the exploration and mining prospecting permits and concessions which have been awarded to national and international mining companies in the municipal lands of El Maitén, El Hoyo and Epuyén, as already are arriving notices of notifications to various residents of the village of El Coihue, just as years before received residents of El Pedregoso.
Present at the march were residents of El Hoyo, El Pedregoso, El Coihue, Epuyén, Lago Puelo, Golondrinas, Cholila, El Bolsón, Mallin Ahogado, Los Repollos, Autoconvocados (Self-Organized Residents) of Esquel and Trevelin, Bariloche and Ingeniero Jacobacci, and the Mapuche community of Cayún of Lago Puelo.
At the beginning of the gathering, a meeting was carried out alongside the highway, in which residents spoke against the situation in El Pedregoso, where various residents have recently received notification of mining prospecting to be carried out by Pacific Rim Mining Corporation, a Canadian company from Vancouver, with offices in Mendoza and a concession of over 10,000 hectacres to explore for gold in Santa Cruz, in the south of Argentina, and who have obtained concessions for around 1,600 hectacres of mining exploration in a zone which stretches from the lake of Los Patos until the lake Mercedes in the Chubut region.
The affected residents, called "superficiaries" in the subtle mining terminology, gave emotional testimonies of their connections to the land where they were born, and expressed their firm decision to not permit mining exploration and prospecting because of the serious environmental consequences caused by this activity.
Finally, it was agreed to urge, through the means of a letter to the council members of each town, the request of information from the provincial Office of Hydrocarbons and Mining regarding the prospection permits awarded in the region; and the obeying of the ordininances in every locality in the region which has prohibited mining with the use of toxic substances
Salem City Council
Resolution on the Cerrejón Mine in Colombia
The following resolution was passed by the Salem City Council, Massachusetts, USA, on April 26, 2006, and forwarded to the Colombian government and the mining companies accused of human rights violations in the Guajira:
WHEREAS, Salem Harbor Station, located in the City of Salem, MA, consumes coal produced in the Cerrejón Zona Norte mine in La Guajira, Colombia;
WHEREAS, since the development of the mine in 1982 the indigenous Wayuu people of La Guajira have been displaced from their lands and had their traditional means of livelihood destroyed by loss of land and industrial contamination;
WHEREAS, in August 2001 the Afro-Colombian village of Tabaco was bulldozed by Exxon Mibil, then half owner of the mine, which included the destruction of many homes, the town's church and school to make room for expansion of the mine;
WHEREAS, residents of Tabaco appealed to the Colombian Supreme Court for the relocation and reconstruction of their towns;
WHEREAS, the Colombian Supreme Court ruled in May, 2002, in favor of the villagers and their request for relocation and reconstruction of their town, and ordered the Mayor of Hatonuevo to oversee the reconstruction;
WHEREAS, two Colombians, Wayuu leader Remedios Fajardo and Tabaco's lawyer Armando Pérez Araúgo, visited Salem in May, 2002 and in April, 2006 Mr. José Julio Pérez visited Salem to ask for Salem's support in expressing solidarity with and demanding justice and relocation for the people who live in the mining zone;
WHEREAS; officials of Dominion issued a statement as follows: "Dominion is sympathetic to the problems this village faces. We expect all of our suppliers-domestic and foreign-to adhere to all rules and regulations governing their operations. Dominion would like to see a just resolution to these issues." (Daniel A. Weekly, Director, Northeast Government Affairs, Dominion Resources, Tuesday, April 18, 2006)
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the City Council of the City of Salem, that the City Council supports the Colombia Supreme Court's decision and requests that said decision be carried out promptly and effectively, so that the inhabitants of Tabaco can rebuild their community and lead productive, shared lives;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council urges that any further mine expansion be conditioned on peaceful and just negotiations that guarantee residents in the mining area basic human rights: right to live, right to subsistence by one's own labor, and the right to human dignity;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that as a community hosting a coal powered generating facility, we condemn violations of human rights by all actors involved in Colombia's conflict, including guerrilla groups, military, paramilitary, police, multinational corporations and foreign agents, including U.S. defense contractors; we express our solidarity with all Colombians working for nonviolent, just, political solutions to the conflict in Colombia, and we encourage the establishment of an ongoing relationship with organizations in the Guajira working peacefully for the human and democratic rights of the Wayuu indigenous people (Yanama) and the villagers of Tabaco (Comité Pro-Reubicación de Tabaco).
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City Council supports the site visit of La Guajira, Colombia and the Village of Tabaco by the Witness for Peace Delegation.
Power plant calls for 'just resolution' in Colombia dispute
By Tom Dalton, The Salem News
14th April 2006
The owner of Salem Harbor Station yesterday called for a "just resolution" in the dispute between displaced farmers in Colombia and the owners of a mine where the local power plant buys some of its coal.
"We sympathize with the plight of (Jose Julio Perez) and his village," said Dan Genest, a spokesman for Dominion, the Virginia owner of the Salem plant. "Dominion expects all of its suppliers ... to comply with all of the rules, laws and regulations governing their operations. Dominion urges a just resolution to the issues."
Perez, president of the community council in Tabaco, a village in Colombia that was forced to move because of the mine's expansion, met for about an hour yesterday with Salem Harbor Station General Manager Mike Fitzgerald and other plant representatives.
Perez has accused the mine and the local government in Colombia of human rights abuses, violence, and ignoring environmental and health problems.
Genest did not say if Dominion plans to contact officials in Colombia. "We're going to have a meeting next week to discuss it internally," he said.
Colombian coal fight comes to Salem
By Tom Dalton , The Salem News
12th April 2006
SALEM - A Colombian farmer whose home was bulldozed five years ago has come to Salem to fight for a new home for his family and fellow villagers displaced by a mine that supplies coal to Salem Harbor Station.
Jose Julio Perez, president of the community council of Tabaco, the uprooted village near the Cerrejon Zona Norte mine in northern Colombia, will address the Salem City Council tonight.
Yesterday, he sat down for almost an hour with Mayor Kim Driscoll, who signed a resolution supporting the villagers' fight back when she was a city councilor. Tomorrow, he meets with state Rep. John Keenan, D-Salem, and, in a private session, with officials from the power plant.
This is the fourth visit to Salem over the past few years by union activists and community leaders from Colombia hoping to form bonds with communities in the United States and Canada that use coal from the plant. They hope to draw attention to their plight and put pressure on the Colombian government and the multinational corporation that owns the mine. In particular, they point to a 2002 decision by the Supreme Court of Colombia supporting their right to be relocated, which they say the local government has ignored.
"We lived in a very peaceful atmosphere of brotherhood," said Perez, speaking through a translator, Salem State College history professor Avi Chomsky. "Since the mines arrived, violence has also arrived in our community."
Perez, 52, does not want Salem Harbor Station to stop buying coal from Colombia. He does not even want Cerrejon Norte, the world's largest open pit coal mine, to shut down. He wants the power plant and others to bring pressure on the mine to respect human rights, protect the environment and public health, treat its workers humanely and help the displaced villagers find a new home and preserve their culture and community.
Dominion, the power plant owner, declined to comment until after tomorrow's meeting.
"We're looking forward to meeting with Mr. Perez and hearing what he has to say," said Karl Neddenien, a company spokesman in Virginia. "Until then, it is not possible to anticipate what might result from the meeting."
Salem Harbor Station has received only one coal shipment from this mine in the past three years, according to Neddenien. It averages about two coal ships a month, he said. He was not able to provide information on the amount of coal in total the Salem plant and Dominion get from Colombia.
Dominion buys a lot of coal from the South American country, which is the major foreign supplier of coal to the United States, according to Chomsky.
In his first trip outside Colombia, Perez has made several stops in the U.S. and also visited Canada. In Salem, he spoke Sunday night at The First Church and also made an appearance at an Earth Day event at Salem State.
In addition to raising awareness, he also hopes to raise funds to hire a scientist to do a study on the health and environmental impacts of the mine and to set up a regional center to monitor the mine's activity and aid the displaced villagers.
Chomsky, coordinator of Salem State's Latin American Studies program, is organizing a delegation that will go to Colombia in August to "follow the trail of coal that supplies power to New England ..." The Witness for Peace New England group will meet with union members and human rights activists battling the mine.
All of these efforts, Chomsky hopes, will make a difference.
"It seems in some ways that the court of public opinion is more important than the legal system in Colombia," she said. "If the company knows there is international attention on what is going on ... that's their vulnerability."
Mine boggling: City, company called to condemn human rights violations
By Dinah Cardin / firstname.lastname@example.org
24th March 2006
José Julio Perez, accompanied by Avi Chomsky, speaks to Salem State College students about Colombian villagers displaced by coal-mining interests. (Staff photo by John Harvey)
Wiping away tears, caused possibly by the biting wind he's not used to, but more likely by stirred emotions, José Julio Pérez stood on Blaney Street Monday morning, staring out at the black pile of coal delivered to Salem Harbor Station. "The misfortune of La Guajira," he said, referring to the region in Columbia where he lives.
With the cooperation of the government, the region is being systematically wiped off the map by the owners of the world's largest open-pit coal mine. "It's very sad," he continued, through an interpreter, "to see what benefits some people, brings harm to many others."
The Cerrejon Norte mine was a joint venture between the Exxon Corporation and the Colombian government. When Exxon first came into the region in 1976, those in his village of Tabaco were told they would be able to keep their land, said Pérez. Then, 20 years later, "a sea of suffering" came to them.
According to an unnamed spokesperson at the Salem Harbor Station power plant, only about one ship a year delivers coal from the Cerrejon mine.
Karl Neddenien of Dominion Energy, the Virginia-based owners of the Salem plant, says the last time it received a delivery from the Cerrejon mine was sometime in 2005. The plant has been increasing the use of coal from South America in general, however, since last January.
The "Coal Americas" journal of April 2005 reports that Dominion has plans to significantly increase its use of Colombian coal, specifically. South America yields low-sulfur coal and Dominion, said Neddenien, is committed to reducing emissions at its power stations. The Salem plant made the conversion to low-sulfur coal last fall.
Asked if it angers him to see Salem and its residents benefiting from his misfortune, Pérez said, "I feel some sadness, but it's not the fault of the people here. [It is] the economic powers and our government."
Pérez has the attention of Avi Chomsky, Salem State professor of history and Latin American Studies, and the daughter of MIT professor and political activist Noam Chomsky. She is his key U.S. contact as he embarks on a month-long tour that will take him across this country, spreading the sad message of his people.
Chomsky says, according to Department of Energy statistics, one third to half of Salem Harbor Station's coal came from Colombia during the 1990s. When a power plant is sold, however, there is a period when they don't have to report such statistics, she said, and the plant has been sold several times in the last few years.
"We're not trying to make the plant look bad," said Chomsky, who came to Salem State in 1997 from Bates College in Maine. "We're not asking that they stop buying Colombian coal. We're listening for them to make a statement for those whose lives are being ruined because of the coal production."
Communities surrounding the Cerrejon mine have been subject to constant noise and dust from blasting, loss of farmland, and contamination of the river that was their main source of water.
According to Pérez, the environmental problems are causing people in his region to suffer respiratory and skin diseases, all so the mine can continue producing 84,000 tons of coal daily, at a price of $50 per ton.
Everyone was "bought" along the way, he said, referring to lawyers, judges and community leaders.
Some peasants were bought out by Exxon, but others refused to leave. Two thousand soldiers rousted 300 families living in Tabaco, destroying it completely in August of 2001 to make way for the expansion of the mine.
Last May, a delegation of 45 people from several South American countries visited the region and observed coal dust blowing from the trains traveling 150 kilometers from the mine to Puerto Bolivar, the peninsula near Venezuela from which ships bring the coal to U.S. destinations, including Salem.
While the less expensive, low-sulfur coal may be more environmentally friendly and could translate to more cheaply produced energy, it could also be linked to the death squads that massacred 12 indigenous Wayuu living near the port owned by the Cerrejon mine, as well as the execution of labor union leaders.
Chomsky is heading up a group to follow the coal route in Colombia this August, a trip arranged through the grassroots organization "Witness for Peace."
She hopes Pérez' talk about the other side of globalization at the First Church next month, as well as his appearance at Salem State College on Earth Day, will drum up interest in the 12-day trip to Colombia.
There, the group will meet with human-rights activists, trade unionists and members of Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, as well as others affected by coal production in Colombia.
In our own living rooms, Salem Access TV has aired "What's the Cost of Salem's Coal? The Destruction of Tabaco." Still, said Chomsky, Salem residents have a "low level of awareness" of the city's connection to human rights violations taking place in the northeastern part of Colombia, both against mine workers and those who live there.
Since 2002, some Salem residents have been involved in bringing the case of the village of Tabaco to the public eye, creating international pressure on the mine to relocate the village's former residents.
In June of that year, the Salem City Council passed a resolution recognizing that Exxon bulldozed the village and that, in May 2002, the Colombian Supreme Court granted the villagers' request for relocation and reconstruction of their town.
The resolution recognized a series of visits by Colombians who had sought the support of Salem residents. The document asked that any mine expansion be conducted peacefully, and that the villagers be accorded basic human rights.
"As a community hosting a coal-powered facility, we condemn violations of human rights by all actors involved in Colombia's conflict," read the resolution, including guerilla groups, military interests and U.S. defense contractors.
The resolution was sent to the president of Colombia and the country's minister of the interior, as well as the Exxon Mobil Corporation. It was sponsored by Salem resident Claudia Chuber, a native of Colombia, who was a city councilor at the time.
"We weren't advocating that they not buy the coal." she said. "We were just saying the natives were being exploited."
When passed by municipalities, such documents are not able to change much nationally, especially in another country, according to Chuber.
"It was pretty symbolic," she said, "but I was happy it was passed."
In 2006, authorities in Colombia have refused to enforce their own Supreme Court's decision, and the displaced villagers remain with relatives or in neighboring countries. Pérez maintains the owners of the mine are eyeing other nearby villages for demolition.
Salem's City Council is again looking into the issue, scheduling some time with Pérez to meet with the its Subcommittee on Public Health, Safety and the Environment next month. They are also considering a similar resolution to the one passed in the summer of 2002.
Councilor Thomas Furey remembers signing the resolution and calls Pérez a "profile in courage."
"The power plant is the goose that laid the golden egg and we need it to stay in Salem," he said. "It's so critical that we have it, but we need to send a message that products in Colombia shouldn't be on the backs of the workers."
Furey said he is strongly in favor of continuing such a resolution, and of voicing a policy of zero tolerance for accepting Colombian products as long as the mistreatment continues.
Meeting of the mine
The North Shore Columbia Solidarity Committee formed to further educate people here about the human rights violations. The group is sponsoring Pérez' visit next month.
A part of the group's demands is that representatives from Dominion meet with Perez while he is here. They are also looking for the company to issue a public statement about their intent to take reasonable action to help Colombian mine workers, as well as to increase efforts to seek alternative, renewable forms of energy.
Although previous owners of Salem Harbor Station have met with representatives from Colombia's La Guajira region in the past, Dominion is just getting used to its new relationship with that country. Dominion's Neddenien said the company "would be pleased" to meet with Pérez, but said it is not making any more promises at this point.
"I think what we need to do is talk with the gentleman and hear what he has to say," said Neddenien. "That's what we've committed to so far."
A spokesperson at the plant said no one there has seen an invitation to meet with Pérez, but would be more than willing to.
A few years ago, Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, president of a Colombian mining union, came to Salem. Chomsky, who has researched the history of Colombian coal mining and its tragic effects on the country today, translated into English the labor leader's book, "The Profits of Extermination: How U.S. Corporate Power is Destroying Colombia."
In Colombia, it was published amid death threats.
Jeff Crosby, president of the North Shore Labor Council, an organization of 50 local unions from Saugus to Cape Ann, has met with Cuellar a couple of times, including once in Bogota D.C., Colombia's capital.
Crosby compares the responsibility Salem Harbor Station has to the people of Colombia to that of large clothing companies that rely on sweatshop seamstresses.
"Clearly, any company that receives raw or finished materials from suppliers or vendors in other countries has a responsibility to see to it that the human rights and labor rights of workers involved in the production are protected," he said.
Crosby added that even if the plant takes only a small amount of coal from the Cerrejon mine, the plant's owner still has a responsibility.
"If you're going to globalize profit-making, if you're going to globalize corporations, then you have to globalize human rights," said Crosby.
James "Red" Simpson of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 326, with which Salem power plant workers are affiliated, was contacted by the Gazette this week, but he refused to comment.
Pérez spoke to Professor Chomsky's World History class Monday morning, telling students that before the mine, his people lived a good life, but now can't even afford to send their children to school.
"That was my house," he said to the class, pointing to a slide image of himself in front of bulldozed rubble. "We have nothing now. That's because we tried to oppose the company, so we were punished by the company."
Pérez, a father of 10 children, is jeopardizing his own life by publicizing the plea of his countrymen. In the summer of 2000, he was attacked by armed security officials at the mine as he tried to film the conditions surrounding his village.
When asked about his level of danger, Perez says much has already been taken from him.
"But we feel," he said, "that we have to make ourselves heard."
Distrito de Suyo ratificó oposición a gran minería: si entran grandes empresas tomarán vías
Viernes, 12 de Mayo del 2006 - El Regional de Piura
El distrito de Suyo fue claro en su posición frente a la minería: "No" a las grandes empresas mineras y un "sí" a los mineros artesanales de la zona, pero siempre y cuando se organicen y se verifique que no haya contaminación ambiental. De no respetarse esta decisión y en caso de querer ingresar grandes empresas o mineros foráneos, no se descarta el levantamiento de la población y la toma de la panamericana y demás carreteras.
SUYO.- El acuerdo de las autoridades, instituciones y organizaciones del distrito fue expresar su rechazo a las grandes empresas mineras nacionales y transnacionales y a los mineros foráneos. Sin embargo, no descartaron que los mineros artesanales del distrito sigan operando, pero que primero se formalicen, se capaciten y se verifique que no haya contaminación ambiental.
La decisión fue tomada este miércoles último, en una asamblea dirigida por el R.P. Eduardo Peña Rivera, presidente de la Mesa de Concertación y Lucha Contra la Pobreza del Distrito de Suyo. En la asamblea también se conformó una comisión que coordinará solicitar la asesoría a Defensoría del Pueblo, Diaconía para la Justicia y la Paz y Ministerio de Energía y Minas.
"La propuesta es que se reciba el asesoramiento oportuno, para ver las ventajas y desventajas. Si es que se opta por la minería, que se opte, pero sin contaminación alguna. No podemos perjudicar a los mineros artesanales que son comuneros del lugar, pero tampoco podemos perjudicar al pueblo, es decir que no haya contaminación. Por eso es que falta investigar si es que los mineros artesanales están contaminando, por eso queremos el asesoramiento con personas especializadas. No queremos pan para ahora y miseria para el futuro", puntualizó el padre Eduardo Peña.
Indicó que estas reuniones con representantes de instituciones especializadas y organizaciones y autoridades de todo el ámbito distrital, se realizará después de la segunda vuelta electoral, con la finalidad de "no caer en aspectos políticos partidarios".
Para el párroco de Suyo y presidente de la Mesa de Concertación, el peligro es que Suyo se está convirtiendo "en tierra de nadie, que Suyo pierda su identidad, sus costumbres, y vemos que la moral está decayendo con la aparición de cantinas y prostitución".
Dijo que la desorganización es un problema en la minería artesanal, además se necesita evaluar si hay contaminación o no, "por todo Suyo está el mineral, hay huecos por aquí huecos por allá, tala de árboles, posibles contaminaciones; entonces que pasará después de 5 a 8 años, la situación sería más complicada si entran empresas mineras nacionales o transnacionales. El pueblo tiene derecho a vivir como hijos de Dios", señaló el sacerdote.
No están en contra
El Padre Eduardo Peña Rivera, dijo que no están en contra de la minería, sino en la forma como se desarrolla en el distrito y como se pretende continuar. A la vez reconoció que es una fuente de trabajo para los moradores que durante años de sequía se dedican a esta actividad de manera artesanal.
"No estamos en contra de la minería, lo que estamos es en contra de la forma como se está procesando, como se está desarrollando y lo que no nos gusta es que (la gran minería) hace grandes a los más grandes y pobres a los más pobres, es decir a los campesinos que son trabajadores", remarcó.
Por su parte la alcaldesa del distrito, Elizabet Sánchez Infante, dijo que la minería si es desarrollo pero dependiendo cómo se trabaje, "en la minería artesanal tenemos que ver si es que usan técnicas apropiadas para no contaminar el medio. Además tenemos que organizarlos y capacitarlos y sigan trabajando, generando fuentes de trabajo, pero sin contaminar el medioambiente", señaló.
La alcaldesa de Suyo, indicó que la población del distrito rechaza a las grandes empresas mineras, porque contaminan y se llevan el mineral.
"Los comuneros rechazan a las grandes mineras, porque contaminan, porque se llevan todo, porque temen que regrese el hacendado. Además queremos formalizarlos, queremos conocer la población minera, actualmente se dice que hay empresas que están llegando a través de terceras personas a infiltrarse en las comunidades y eso queremos saber", indicó.
Por su parte, Carlos Vega Aguilera, vicepresidente del Comité de Defensa de los Intereses de Suyo, dijo que las grandes empresas están utilizando a algunos mineros artesanales como "testaferros, para poder ingresar y obtener la licencia social".
"Algunas empresa como Laytaruma ya está presente en Suyo pero primero está comprando material de relave a los artesanales, ese es su primer paso porque esta empresa tiene denuncios en la zona de La Tina. Pero hay otras empresas que también están ya en la zona como "Valverde", "Pinillos" "Cubos Lozano", "Chan Chan" "Duarco" (Tomapampa), etc", dijo Vega Aguilera.
En la reunión realizada en Suyo, se informó de la existencia de una procesadora de mineral en el poblado de Pichones, jurisdicción del distrito de Las Lomas, y que sería propiedad de la empresa minera Señor Cautivo.
"Sobre esta información hay un acta que la tiene un señor de Las Lomas, donde la Dirección de Energía y Minas prácticamente autoriza para que funciones esta procesadora de material. Cuando eso sólo lo debe autorizar el Ministerio de Energía y Minas en Lima", dijo Carlos Vega Aguilera.
Señaló que de ser así se estaría trabajando con Cianuro, un químico de alta peligrosidad, que contamina el medioambiente y afecta a la salud de las personas.
Al ser consultada sobre los denuncios mineros en el distrito, principalmente en la Comunidad Campesina de Pampalarga de donde proviene la alcaldesa, Elizabeth Sánchez dijo que no sabía cuantos denuncios hay ni que empresas han denunciado.
"Yo en poco tiempo que me encuentro en la Municipalidad de Suyo, desconozco pero si se dice que ya hay denuncios, e incluso yo vengo de Pampalarga y la presidenta de la comunidad da a conocer los denuncios, pero se desconoce quienes son las personas que tienen denuncios (..) Existen los denuncios, lo que se desconoce quienes son los propietarios de estos denuncios", dijo la autoridad edil.
Al respecto, Carmen Amelia Madrid Morán, de la Comunidad Campesina de Pampalarga, presentó la documentación de los denuncios mineros en esa comunidad, donde se registran 39 denuncios.
Según la comunera estos denuncios abarcan la totalidad del área comunal "el 100% de la comunidad está con denuncios mineros, es decir las 40 mil hectáreas de la comunidad, donde hay un bosque seco, donde está nuestro ganado y donde tenemos dos cuencas como son El Calvas o Chira y el Quiroz. Por lo tanto la comunidad campesina de Pampalarga jamás vamos a dar licencia social a las grandes empresas mineras".
También se informó que a nivel de distrito entre el 80 y 90% de su área está con denuncios mineros.
Carlos Vega Aguilera, vicepresidente del Comité de Defensa de los Intereses de Suyo, dijo que ante el Ministerio de Energía y Minas a través de la dirección regional en Piura, han solicitado información de todos los denuncios mineros en el distrito, pero ha pasado casi un mes y no les dan la información.
. El 27 de febrero del 2006, los comuneros tomaron el campamento minero de Tomapampa del Quiroz, aduciendo que la empresa Duarco que opera en la zona no quiere dialogar con la Comunidad Campesina del mismo lugar. El campamento sigue en poder de los comuneros.
. Según informan los comuneros de Pampalarga, que Carmen Amelia Madrid Morán fue reelegida presidenta de esa comunidad; pero un grupo de comuneros que trabajan en las empresas mineras se autoproclamaron dirigentes. El caso fue llevado al Poder Judicial y para los comuneros esta fue una estrategia de cómo las empresas quieren obtener la licencia social, apoyando la conformación de directivas paralelas.
. El 14 de mayo del 2006, miembros de la Comunidad Campesina de Pampalarga - Suyo, impidieron que un sector de la directiva intente suscribir convenios con concesionarios de denuncios mineros. A la frustrada asamblea asistieron representantes de la Dirección Regional de Energía y Minas.
Ante solicitud de Doe Run Perú
ORGANIZACIONES SOCIALES EXIGEN LEVANTAMIENTO DE RESERVA DE INFORMACION
NOTA DE PRENSA No. 22
Organizaciones de la sociedad civil demandan al Director General de Asuntos Ambientales Mineros del Ministerio de Energía y Minas (MEM), Ing. Julio Bonelli, levante y declare infundada la solicitud de reserva de información planteada por Doe Run Perú (DRP), sobre las respuestas a una serie de observaciones que hiciera el MEM a dicha empresa en su pedido de ampliación de su Programa de Adecuación y Manejo Ambiental (PAMA).
La demanda presentada por las ONGs CooperAcción, y DAR (Derecho, Ambiente y Recursos Naturales) considera que la información proporcionada por DRP no constituye información reservada de carácter comercial, industrial, tecnológico, tributario, bursátil ni comercial, tal como argumentó la empresa.
El 20 de marzo último, DRP alcanzó un documento al MEM donde solicitaba la no publicación de las respuestas a las observaciones 12, 13, 15, 23, 38, 70.1, 70.2 y 72 del informe N° 040-2006-MEM-AAM/LS/FV/AL/FQ/CC/AA, por considerarlas información reservada y confidencial, amparándose en normas constitucionales y en leyes ambientales y de transparencia de información pública.
El MEM publicó en su portal oficial el documento presentado por DRP, restringiendo información de las observaciones arriba señaladas, a pesar que constituyen elementos claves dentro del proceso de debate y vigilancia ciudadana.
Por ejemplo, en la observación 72 el MEM había solicitado a DRP un análisis comparativo de los efectos, especialmente sociales y económicos, de la aprobación versus la desaprobación de la solicitud de prórroga excepcional del PAMA del Complejo Metalúrgico de La Oroya (CMLO). Sin embargo, esta información ha sido considerada "reservada" por DRP y el MEM, dejando a la ciudadanía sin conocer cuál sería el panorama social y económico en los dos escenarios.
Igualmente en la observación 70, se demandaba a DRP que presente una línea de Base Social con énfasis en las actividades económicas y salud; un informe que evalué impactos económicos en La Oroya con o sin la presencia de la fundición, y de cómo se incorporarán las recomendaciones establecidas en el Estudio de Riesgo de la Salud Humana en relación a las medidas propuestas en los mecanismos de mejoramiento ambiental y de la salud. Con la aceptación de la reserva de información por parte del MEM, no se ha podido conocer la diversidad de datos y acciones que la empresa plantearía al respecto.
Estas dos observaciones grafican la improcedencia del pedido de reserva de información formulada por DRP. Son informaciones de carácter socio-económico vitales para la población; toda vez que la empresa ha sembrado el rumor del cierre de DRP si no se les amplía el PAMA.
Por otro lado, en la observación 38 se solicita informe de los tonelajes de los diez últimos años de concentrados que se han procesado en los circuitos de Plomo, Zinc y Cobre del CMLO. Esta información forma parte del historial de producción que debe remitir cada año al MEM, tal como lo hacen otras empresas del sector. No se han solicitado datos que constituyan secreto industrial ni tecnológico que afecten a DRP.
Las observaciones 12, 13 y 15 están referidas a las Plantas de Ácido Sulfúrico de los circuitos de Plomo, Zinc y Cobre. La producción de ácido sulfúrico se realiza mediante un solo método estandarizado internacionalmente y públicamente conocido, "por lo que por lo que ningún detalle técnico de las mencionadas Plantas de Ácido Sulfúrico podría ser parte del concepto de secreto industrial", menciona la demanda.
En la observación 23 se solicitan precisiones respecto al balance masa para cada uno de los circuitos del Complejo Metalúrgico de La Oroya. Estos "balances" o "balances de masas" no incluyen información relativa a los métodos o procesos de producción, de lo que se concluye que dicha información no puede estar comprendida dentro del ámbito del secreto industrial", reza el documento.
COOPERACCIÓN y DAR forman parte de la Mesa Técnica de La Oroya, instancia que agrupa a organizaciones de la sociedad civil comprometidas con la defensa de los derechos ambientales y de salud. Estas organizaciones esperan que el Estado Peruano actúe con transparencia y responsabilidad frente a la situación que viven los miles de pobladores de La Oroya, por ello consideran indispensable el levantamiento de reserva de información solicitada por DRP.
Prensa Oroya - 01 de mayo de 2006
2616515 / 98040852 / 96670634
Protestan contra minera canadiense en Ecuador
Wed, May. 03, 2006
QUITO - Campesinos del sur del país bloquearon el miércoles varios tramos de la carretera Panamericana para rechazar las operaciones de la empresa minera canadiense Iamgold de explotación de oro.
Los habitantes de Tarqui y Victoria del Portete, unos 400 kilómetros al sur de Quito, se oponen a la presencia de la compañía en la zona porque consideran se verán afectados por la explotación de yacimientos de oro. "Están explorando, todavía no están explotando y el rato que se explote el oro ... va a venir la contaminación" en los ríos que atraviesan la zona y que representan la principal fuente de agua, aseguró en canal 8 de televisión, Carlos Pérez, dirigente de la Federación de Campesinos del Azuay.
Los campesinos cerraron la carretera con piedras, palos y montículos de tierra. Decenas de vehículos de transporte público no pudieron continuar con su trayecto y los pasajeros debieron realizar trasbordos.
"El agua vale más que el oro", decía uno de los carteles que portaban los manifestantes. En Ecuador, la canadiense Iamgold es propietaria de unas 12.500 hectáreas en las que, desde el 2002, desarrolla el proyecto Quimsacocha y realiza tareas de exploración y perforación, según señala su página de internet. La empresa también opera en Argentina, Brasil, Senegal y Tanzania.
Campesinos del Azuay bloquean vía en rechazo de explotación minera
Al grito de "el agua vale más que el oro", campesinos de las parroquias Tarqui y Victoria del Portete, provincia del Azuay, mantienen bloqueada la vía Panamericana Sur, en los tramos Cuenca-Girón-Pasaje.
Los manifestantes se oponen a que la compañía minera canadiense Iamgold, ejerza la explotación de yacimientos de oro a través del proyecto Quinsacocha. De acuerdo a los pobladores, la actividad secará los ríos y convertirá a la zona en un desierto.
"Van a secarnos el agua porque allí son los orígenes de los ríos Tarqui, Irquis y Yanuncai y el rato que se explota el oro va a venir la contaminación", aseguró Carlos Pérez, dirigente de la Federación de Campesinos del Azuay. La zona está ubicada a 40 kilómetros al sur de Cuenca, en donde la compañía tiene el cien por ciento de la propiedad de 10.000 hectáreas, según el reporte de la estación televisiva Ecuavisa. La vía, que comunica a las provincias de El Oro y Loja, será reabierta a la media noche de este miércoles.
MARCHA CONTRA CATEOS MINEROS EN EL NOROESTE DE CHUBUT
GACETILLA DE PRENSA
COMUNICADO DE LA ASAMBLEA COMARCAL CONTRA EL SAQUEO
(El Hoyo, 15/05/05) En la tarde de ayer se llevo a cabo una concentración de alrededor de 600 vecinos de las localidades del noroeste de Chubut en el cruce del arroyo Pedregoso con la Ruta Nacional 40 (ex 258), límite de los éjidos de El Hoyo y Epuyén. El propósito fue solidarizarse con los pobladores que luchan por no ser desalojados de su tierra y reafirmar una vez más un amplio rechazo a los emprendimientos mineros en esta región, oposición que ya fue manifestada en la consulta popular realizada en marzo del 2003, en la que el 98% de la población se pronunció por la negativa al proyecto minero de Meridian Gold. También se exigió al gobierno provincial de Chubut que informe a la comunidad camarcal acerca de las autorizaciones de exploración, cateo y concesiones mineras que se han otorgado a empresas nacionales e internacionales en los éjidos municipales de El Maitén, El Hoyo y Epuyén, ya que están llegando cédulas de notificación a varios pobladores del paraje El Coihue, como años antes recibieran vecinos de El Pedregoso.
Estuvieron presentes vecinos de El Hoyo, El Pedregoso, El Coihue, Epuyén, Lago Puelo, Golondrinas, Cholila, El Bolsón, Mallin Ahogado, Los Repollos, Autoconvocados de Esquel y Trevelin, Bariloche e Ingeniero Jacobacci, y la comunidad mapuche Cayún de Lago Puelo.
Al inicio de la concentración se realizó una asamblea al borde de la ruta en la que se denunció la situación en la zona de El Pedregoso, en donde varios pobladores recientemente han recibido notificaciones de cateos mineros por parte de la empresa Pacific Rim Mining Corporation, empresa canadiense de Vancouver, con sede en la ciudad de Mendoza y una concesión de más de 10.000 hectáreas para explotar oro en Santa Cruz, que habría obtenido la concesión de alrededor de 1600 has para la explotación minera en una zona que abarca desde la laguna de Los Patos hasta la laguna de las Mercedes en nuestra comarca .
Los pobladores afectados, llamados "superficiarios" por la sutil nomenclatura minera, dieron emotivos testimonios de su arraigo a la tierra en que nacieron y expresaron su firme decisión de no permitir la realización de cateos mineros dadas las graves consecuencias ambientales que provocaría tal actividad.
Además se expresaron varias alternativas de continuidad del proceso de resistencia al saqueo de las mineras y la demanda de acción a sectores legislativos nacionales, provinciales y municipales en pro de la derogación de la legislación minera vigente.
Luego de la asamblea, se realizó una conmovedora marcha de los pobladores, entre los que había muchos matrimonios jóvenes con chicos, ascendiendo por los bosques a las nacientes del arroyo El Pedregoso para reconocer los lugares que estarían comprometidos en la pretendida explotación minera y manifestar su apoyo a los vecinos afectados.
Finalmente, se acordó exigir por medio de una nota a los consejales de cada localidad se solicite información a la Dirección de Hidrocarburos y Minería de las autorizaciones de cateos otorgadas en la zona, y se de cumplimiento a las ordenanzas que en cada localidad de la comarca prohíben la minería con uso de sustancias tóxicas. Además se decidió adherir al justo reclamo de los presos mapuches recluidos en la cárcel de Temuco (Chile) y que hoy cumplen 61 días en huelga de hambre, condenados por la ley Antiterrorista a causa de su defensa de la tierra de sus comunidades.
La próxima reunión se llevará a cabo el día 28 de mayo en la localidad de El Hoyo a las 16.00 hs en lugar a confirmar a fin de evaluar las acciones a seguir.