MAC: Mines and Communities

Argentina: Communique Of The Patagonia Coordinating Assembly For Life And Territory

Published by MAC on 2006-06-11
Source: Ingeniero Jacobacci


Communique of the Patagonia Coordinating Assembly for Life and Territory, Against Plunder and Contamination

From Ingeniero Jacobacci, on the Southern Line of Río Negro, Argentina

11th June 2006

We meet again, this time in Jacobacci, as Self-Organized Neighbors of Chubut and Río Negro, with the support of organizations of these provinces of Neuquén, with the presence of rural producers, Mapuche communities, small businesses, teachers, students, artisans, members of churches, of unions, and workers in general, united to reject the advances of contaminative large-scale mining.

If the mines are here it is because the State is promoting this questionable form of obtaining income. The politicians of the three powers, or those who aspire to be candidates, insist upon presenting contaminative mining as something unstoppable and positive, despite all of the evidence against it.

The State and the mining companies present a scheme so simplified as to resist analysis. Not only did they think to place their plan in the middle of laws drafted without consultation, but now they come to sell the illusion that to live off of royalties is "growth," forgetting to mention that this contributes to the de-industrialization, artificially inflates statistics of the internal Gross National Product, will contaminate forever (although they try to sweep the toxic residues under the rug), and that the mining will not resolve any deep economic problems of Argentina. On the contrary: It will generate new problems. Contaminative mining, in the best of cases, will only fatten the global circuit of waste, of the competition between peoples and war. But the conflicts not only occur in other lands. The consequences of big mining are many, and include those that occur socially in and around the communities affected when the mining companies (and other extractive industries) effort to win the local consent, obedience or complicity to guarantee their profits.

We invite all the organizations and assemblies to pay attention to this, and thus assign little importance to that written in the "Environmental Impact Reports." This rarified social climate which we are referring to includes a forced optimism, key phrases ("if there is gold, someone has to mine it"), administrative violence, intimidating letters to residents, vigilance, press campaigns (or the buying of medias, and public pressures) and defamations.

Jacobacci, despite all intents to prevent this, now appears to be this type of city. The mining-related sectors now have more power than the municipality. Nobody is surprised by this because this is part of the world strategies of the mining companies, and figures in their manuals as only the question of how to enter into "local communities" and construct a regional "mining identity" (as described in the MMSD, Mineral and Metal Sustainable Development Program). Through this privatized activism, contracted by the mining companies and the various foundations and consultants they contract, political and ideological interventions are made in the communities. It is a well-paid activism, with much free time and many resources available to divide the population into the "good" and the "bad." The "good" are those who will support big mining, and the "bad" those who defend other economic forms. In many cases, the mining sector uses monetary extortion, hunger, unemployment, poverty, handouts and cheap clientelism. The same or worse as with the political parties, but to defend private interests.

The eco-investors in the Andes are doing the same thing, such as Lewis' Hidden Lake, handing out footballs, jerseys, and when necessary, ambulances or infrastructure. These gifts appear to be generous, but they are nothing compared to the profits they gain. These are beads and mirrors, which attack the dignity of human beings.

It has been this way since the time of Columbus. It is time to throw them out. The State cannot remain in the background, subsidizing, while awarding mining concessions and permits of all types, especially for THIS type of plunder. This is why they permit mining companies to enter into the schools, colleges, high schools and universities, to programs of study and investigation, conferences, seminaries, contests for students, trade expositions and guided visits for students, like they did in General Roca on the Day of Mining. Those who benefit from these types of festival (companies, officials, service providers) also contribute with their silence and complicity.

Here they have hung banners saying "Jacobacci Decides for Jacobacci" as if we Argentines were foreigners in our own land (and the mining companies and their employees were the true "locals"), as if the political and economic model of mining wasn't the result of what was decided behind closed doors - without public consultation - by government and business officials. But they have not managed to divide us. The more they spend, say and do, the more they try to encircle us... the more they unite us. A people that does not sell out is a people that cannot be bought. We alert the local population to these maneuvers and their consequences.

We reject the wholesale distribution of permits of prospecting, exploration and exploitation of contaminative mining throughout Patagonia, today, with total urgency and because of what is happening in this moment, in the South Line of Río Negro and in the department of Cushamen of Chubut. We also reject the Declarative Act signed between five departmental mayors of the Andean region of Chubut and the director of mining of this province.

We demonstrate our unconditional support of the Arreche family, whose property is located alongside the mining project Calcatreu, and all of the neighbors and communities who do not permit access to their lands to the mining companies and their technical and legal representatives.

We urge the respect of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of our brethren Mapuche, following the directives of Agreement 169 of the International Trade Organization and of Article 75 of the National Constitution.

We urge a program that respects - and not only in words - other visions of development, especially directed towards resolving the causes of poverty and the conditions of the most vulnerable sectors. For this we urge an institutional space in public organizations such as the Education Board, the Organism for the Development of the Southern Line, Health, etc.

We want to continue with our traditional forms of production, without impacting Nature, which is what is happening now with the contaminative mining, which puts into risk all of our regional space.

We reject the public dependency that this political system is creating, which is spawning the clientelism of the mining sector, using our needs and the poverty to try and pit poor versus poor when we are all suffering the same situation as equals.


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