MAC: Mines and Communities

Latin America update - Correa advierte de "guerra civil" entre comunidades y empresas min

Published by MAC on 2007-03-24

Latin America update - Correa advierte de "guerra civil" entre comunidades y empresas mineras en Ecuador

24th March 2007

Ecuador's new president, Rafael Correa, has demonstrated support for Indigenous communities confronted with the long-standing attrition caused by oil exploitation. Now he is backing communities impacted by mining and mineral exploration, warning of a possible "civil war while declaring that mining had not given the country "any benefits" so far.

In contrast the Peruvian government is about to relax environmental restrictions on mining - a move that has sparked fervent protests from civil society organisations.

Five NGOs from Peru, Argentina and the US, have filed a petition before the Organization of American States, claiming the Peruvian administration has failed to curb toxic outfall from US Doe Run's lead smelter in La Oroya, thus "trampling on the human rights" of the town's 35,000 citizens.

Accused of severe human rights abuses against trade unionists - including complicity with "death squads" - is another US outfit, Drummond Coal. Although the company strongly denies the charges, evidence has emerged that it lobbied t he US state department in an attempt to have the law suit against it thrown out.

Privatisation, massive increases in output, and de-unionisation have led to a rise in "accidents" in Colombia's coal fields, where children still go down the mines.

Workers have also joined a broad-based coalition, demanding a halt to operations by Canadian miner, Colombia Goldfields in the province of Caldas.

Two British mining companies come under the spotlight in Chile: Antogasta over its plan to expand a tailings dam, and Xstrata over its putative investment in a hydro project - now stalled by a regional environmental authority.

More than a year after the disaster at Mexico's Pasta de Conchos coal mine that killed 65 miners, a judge has orderered the arrest of five mine managers. In February, thousands of miners held a one-day strike marking the anniversary of the deaths, while a national deputy denounced former president, Vicente Fox, for covering up various responsibilities in the case. In 2006, Minera México promised $16,500 million (mexican) in compensation, but paid only 48 million to the victims.

Trade unionists from four different countries have announced a new "union accord", to deal with the world's biggest iron ore producer (and now owner of Inco) - CVRD-Inco.

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