MAC: Mines and Communities

Argentina-"now They Are Coming For Our Dignity"

Published by MAC on 2006-08-06
Source: Self-Organized Neighbors of Famatina ()

ARGENTINA

"Now They Are Coming For Our Dignity"

Press statement - Self-Organized Neighbors of Famatina

La Rioja, Argentina

6th August 2006

First there was the disinformation and one-sided reports in the news. The people only saw another pickup truck passing -- they didn't know they were witnessing the arrival of workers of companies, who were preparing the path for the installation of the multinational mining company Barrick Gold.

Later on there were the spokespersons of "select groups" of Famatinans who had visited the Bajo La Alumbrera mining operations, in Catamarca and Veladero, San Juan. These persons returned and told everyone who wanted to listen about "the marvels of the operations in the mining zones, and the comfortable lives that mine workers are living." Clearly they were shown what their handlers had wanted to show them -- they never had talked to the real residents of Catamarca and San Juan, t hey had talked only with people of the mining company and those at their service.

Following this was the offer of a course in "Geologist Apprenticeship" which some young Famatinos attended - but with questions which made the instructors a bit uncomfortable. Well, why do they want to know so much? Just take what we give you, ok?

This is how the recent history of open-pit mining in Famatina began. At first, hidden, later the attempt to win folks through showing "the achievements, technological advances, the well-being which mining companies are promoting in other provinces." This continued with supposed "training of community residents," which is nothing more than Barrick's strategy of winning hearts and minds, playing with the dreams and illusions of the people, with their desires of progressing towards skilled jobs and good wages.

And now they are coming for our dignity... Now they have taken off the masks and they are coming directly to try and purchase people. They arrive with promises to improve institutions. They continue with the work that the governments of the moment are so skilled at doing. Because, if until now the clientism and corruption was political, now it is transnational: It comes from Barrick Gold. The mining company already has its people at work, and some of these people are part of our community, and they are already convinced to go out and keep trying to purchase our cooperation.

This is why we have to be aware, because our community is going to be visited by emissaries of Barrick, promising equipment, medicine, books, clothes, shoes, food - all this and much more, as well as "courses in the care of the environment and even cooking."

The people need to remain alert and not let themselves be fooled, because if they give in and accept the handouts of the mining company not only will they be losing their dignity, but also they will lose their community and their lives.

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