Citizens protest the meeting of Canadian Prime Minister and Barrick - Canadian Prime Minister enters
Citizens protest the meeting of Canadian Prime Minister and Barrick - Canadian Prime Minister enters Barrick’s Offices through the Back Door
18th July 2007
Two hours late and in the presence of a huge security presence that included guards, police and special forces, Stephen Harper arrived at the offices of Barrick Gold and entered through the parking area, in order to avoid the peoples’ protest that started at 8:00 am at the entrance to the building.
Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada, continues creating controversy in his visit to our country. After refusing to visit with communities affected by large Canadian mining companies in Chile, he declared yesterday “Barrick is following Canadian norms in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility, and will follow all of the rules with regards to the project.” Today, when he visited the offices of Barrick, he had to enter through the backdoor to avoid the chants and yells that revealed that the company is not complying with the promised standards.
Canadian organizations have assured us that these declarations are a ruse, because corporate social responsibility standards have yet to be defined. In other words, they don’t exist.
Harper stayed in the office for about half an hour, while representatives of the communities read a declaration that they later tried to hand deliver to Harper. Harper didn’t receive it, but the company did, and promised to pass it to the highest Canadian authority.
It was a surprise for all of us that an official visitor in our country had to enter and exit through the backdoor, against traffic, and with a security effort that seemed more suited to guarding a dangerous delinquent than to the care of a state official.
Declaration delivered during the demonstration and received by Barrick to give to the Prime Minister
Santiago, July 18, 2007
Prime Minister of Canada supports Barrick Gold and refuses audience with Communities affected by Pascua Lama
It is abhorrent that Stephen Harper, under the pretext of a state visit, intervenes openly and shamelessly on behalf of a mining company whose operations are questionable environmentally, legally, ethically and socially.
It is inconceivable that the maximum authority in a country like Canada, that promotes and supports foreign mining investments at a state level (with the money of all Canadians), shows a total lack of consideration for the effects that these investments generate in communities where mining projects are developed.
We find it worrying that Steven Harper’s agenda includes meetings with the president and with Barrick Gold, the mining company in question, while failing to listen to the voices of citizens accusing murder and destruction ten years after the FTA between the two countries. It demonstrates the double standards of the Prime Minister, who opened public Roundtables on corporate social responsibility in his own country, while here in Chile he refuses to meet with civil society.
We reject the political pressure suggested by this visit, which comes at the same moment at which Barrick is encountering serious difficulties: on June 21, the opening of mine areas was delayed for the fourth time, in mid July the Inter American Commission for Human Rights will determine whether or not they receive for processing the territorial usurpation dispute put forward by the Diaguita community of Huascoaltinos. Three weeks ago the congress showed their concern with irregularities brought forward by the community of Valle del Huasco and promised to strike up an investigatory commission on Pascua Lama. In the coming weeks, the State Defense Council will determine what role they will play in a dispute being carried out by the community for irreparable environmental damage with regards to the destruction of glaciers. At the moment there is no taxation agreement between Chile and Argentina for the Pascua Lama project, along with a series of other irregularities.
For all of these reasons, we declare Mr. Harper a persona non grata and we demand that the Chilean government defend our sovereignty and ask the Canadian diplomats for answers regarding Harper’s statements, and Harper’s agenda, which does very little to maintain the health of the bilateral relations in our countries.
Latin American Observatory on Environmental Conflicts (OLCA)
Movimiento Ciudadano Anti Pascualama
Programa Radial “Semillas de Agua”
Coordinadora de Defensa de los Valles del Tránsito y El carmen (Región de Atacama)
Casa Taller La Lucha
Environmental and Social Justice Action Network (RAJAS, Santiago)