MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Popular Demonstrations in Santa Maria and Andagalá Against Large Scale Mining

Published by MAC on 2005-09-24


Popular Demonstrations in Santa Maria and Andagalá Against Large Scale Mining

September 24, 2005

El Ancasti newspaper

[MAC: Photos thanks to Facundo Serrano]

Self-organized residents of Santa María and Andalgalá carry out demonstrations against large-scale mining in the province of Catamarca, Argentina.

Alumbrera protestsThe strongest action happened in Santa María, where route 40 was blockaded near El Desmonte. The blockade started in the early hours of the morning and extended until last night. According to the document drafted at a large popular assembly, the protest was due to the "lack of a response by the Governor of the province, Eduardo Brizuela del Moral, to the seven thousand signatures in support of the "No Opening" of new mines in Santa María." Additionally "because the provincial government has ignored the petitions of the indigenous communities in regard to the same issue. Because of the silence and disdain about the serious questions that firefighters have raised concerning the danger of the transit and transport of highly dangerous materials. For not communicating to the people the closure plans for the the Bajo La Alumbrera and other planned mines . For the delays in dealing with the repealing of mining laws at national and provincial levels, largely frozen by the government. And for ignoring the requests and declarations from our valleys about the environmental emergency."

Teachers, professors, business owners, indigenous communities, farmers and artisans participated in the assembly carried out at the blockaded route.

For their part, the Autoconvocados of Andalgalá blockaded the access routes to the Bajo la Alumbrera Mine. Professor Mario Orellana defended claims by protesters telling Radio Ancasti that "the mining operations are impacting our water, a vital resource, contaminating the environment, putting everyone's lives in danger and furthermore plundering the natural resources."

Later the same day, the District Attorney of Andalgalá, Cecilia Ontiveros de Rojano, accompanied by the local police, notified the protestors that they were breaking the law by impeding the right to work and that the activities being carried out by the mining company are authorised.

The situation became tense when the employees arrived for the change of shifts, and could not enter, while those who had been working inside wanted to exit. However, the blockade ended without incidents.

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