MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Patagonian Coordinating Assembly For Life And Territory Against Plunder And Contamination

Published by MAC on 2006-01-28
Source: Patagonian Coordinating Assembly

Statement of the Patagonian Coordinating Assembly for Life and Territory Against Plunder and Contamination

by Lago Puelo, Chubut, Argentina,

28th January 2006

After much interchange of information, debate and decision making, the Assembly warns the people and social and political organizations of Argentina that the Argentine State is continuing with the policy of supporting corporations and sectors that live off the extraction of common goods such as petroleum, mining, fishing, hydroelectricity and control of water and waterways.

In addition to polluting and sacking our productive resources, they are de-instrustrializing the country, multiplying the mechanisms of poverty, depreciating regional economies and devaluing the creative productivity of the population.

In this way, in the best case, we are offered scraps of bread today, but reality shows that hunger, unemployment and the loss of control over production and commerce has seriously worsened. For this reason we understand that the AXIS of State-Corporate PLUNDER is multiplying its tactics.

For example, recent Constitutional reform in Neuquén province guarantees the riches of the extractive sector, while at the same time denying totally the rights of indigenous peoples and limiting drastically the political rights of all of the population.

Something similar is happening with the reform of the Environmental Code of Chubut province which, dressed up in technical language, intends to justify great changes in the laws without popular consent and participation.

In both cases it is clear that laws are being drafted by the very politicians and company officials who will directly benefit from them, and the government officials who publicise these reforms as valid. The tendency now emerging is that. on a municipal level, codes and laws are drafted to assist in selling off the common goods of the people.

None of this is new: viz.the grand corporate scams such as the FTAA, the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), and other so-called "free trade" agreements, also those made by our representatives in our name, in closed and secret sessions.

Among the objectives of this type of politics, one finds the proposed construction of a new highway crossing the Andes connecting Argentina with Chile near Lago Puelo. This is announced as "integration", but has various aspects.

In the first place it will facilitate primarily the transit of metals and minerals destined to Asian industry, in the second place it will facilitate further land speculation, generating great financial changes in real estate, tourism and land control, all of which threaten communities throughout the region, especially the oldest habitants and Mapuche communities, such as the families Cayún and Cárdenas in Lago Puelo.

As this spiral of speculation continues, land is transformed into exclusive and excluding uses, such as the construction of casinos, golf courses, private country clubs, eco-ranches and other profitable ventures.

Behind the plan to extend the municipal common lands, pseudo-progressive private business ventures are silently gathering force. In other parts of the Andes, those planning the plunder are proposing huge dams across the river Carrenleufú-Corcovado, the private ownership and use of watersheds, the biopiracy and patenting of biodiversity, or - in the most pressing case at hand - the parasitic and highly contaminative mining industry.

The ramifications and consequences of this festival of investment is affecting all of this region in a manner devastating to regional culture, economy, social relations and ecology.

We demand that the Interamerican Development Bank and other credit organizations, as well as their intermediaries, stop financing these illegitimate ventures, because there has been no consultation with the affected communities.

We demand that the State immediately recognise the communal ownership of lands by indigenous communities, as well as those lands legitimately recuperated, lands taken back by important social experiments, such as Tierra y Dignidad (Land and Dignity) in El Bolsón, Río Negro, and by the struggles of groups such as the Consejo Asesor Indígena (Indigenous Peoples Council) and the Mapuche Campesino Front, among others.

This Assembly reaffirms our commitment to confront mining exploitation and prospecting all of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and the Islands of the South Atlantic, and we stand in solidarity with the struggles of people in territories affected by mining and other parasitic forms of exploitation of people and nature throughout this country and continent.

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