MAC/20: Mines and Communities

ARGENTINA

Published by MAC on 2007-06-07

ARGENTINA

Statement from La Rioja in Struggle Against Barrick Gold

Argentina

7th June 2007

Press Release

Coordination of the Citizens Assemblies for Life

In the face of statements by Minister of Government of the province of La Rioja, Lazaro Fonzalida, to suspend the popular referendum on mining (scheduled for July 29) because according to him there is no reason for it because of the supposed abandonment of Barrick Gold from the Famatina project, and that the law would remain "abstract," the Assemblies of the people of Famatina, Chilecito, Capital, Pituil and Chaarmuyo suspect a BETRAYAL by the current government of the province who are maintaining a discourse "in tune" with the citizen assemblies, and today are suddenly changing their discourse and talking about "mining with control" and trying to mock the people, the Coordination expresses its repudiation and emits the following communication:

Many voices have been heard from this group of informed citizens, who, worried and committed to the defense of life and of our natural resources, initiated a struggle against all odds to prevent the open-pit mining exploitation of the Famatina Range.

Throughout this struggle, we have confronted those who have tried to discredit us and silence our voices, as well as a public who is joining and supporting us because they understand that social resistance is the only instrument to make our rights heard, although we live in a democracy.

We are in a decisive stage of our struggle. The moment has arrived for each one of us to assume, with honesty and responsibility, the role that corresponds to them. As citizens, we demand that our political leaders take a clear, concrete and coherent posture in defense of life and of the natural resources, a posture that should translate into actions that benefit the people and not he multinational corporations and some few who are making million dollar businesses by compromising the future of our next generations.

We do not and will not accept double discourses, nor betrayal, and we will not come now and talk about "mining with monitoring" or "vigilance" because this is the same as to talk about "responsible mining", a term used by the multinational companies to make us believe that they do not produce contamination.

There are overwhelming cases where the State never could control activities of this type, such as Bajo la Alumbrera (Xstrata in Catamarca), Veladero (Barrick in San Juan), Curtiembre Yoma (Nonogasta), waste dumps, etc. How many examples do we need?

Politicians and Riojanos all, NOW IS THE TIME! We have in our hands hte power to decide our own destiny. From the Coordination of the Citizens Assemblies for Life, we warn that we are not going to give up our struggle, we are not going to bend. With or without the popular consult, with public officials corrupt or committed to their people, we will continue forward, and with every blow, we will respond, strengthening our methods until we reach our objectives.

We reaffirm once more, that FAMATINA CANNOT BE TOUCHED.

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