Posts Tagged 'Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería'

Minería en México: entre el despojo capitalista y la resistencia popular.

Hace 11 años, en el municipio de Cerro de San Pedro, San Luis Potosí, comenzó la resistencia popular contra el despojo a la nación y los mexicanos por la gran industria minera. En 2001 los opositores a la minería a cielo abierto comenzaron la resistencia con un festival cultural y unas mesas de análisis sobre los problemas que la presencia de la minera New Gold-Minera San Xavier generaba entre ellos. Tal vez los organizadores de la resistencia ni lo imaginaron, pero al paso del tiempo terminaron convirtiéndose en uno de los referentes imprescindibles de la oposición a la actividad minera a gran escala, por los efectos tan negativos que deja entre la población de los alrededores donde se establece. Ahora, con la legitimidad que les da una década de lucha, se preparan para la realización del undécimo festival de la resistencia contra la actividad minera a gran escala, el cual está programado para realizarse el próximo sábado 17 del presente mes y al cual, además de comunidades de la región, esperan asistan opositores de otras latitudes del país.

Once años después de las primeras resistencias las condiciones son diferentes. En principio ya los efectos de la minería se dejan ver con más claridad. Uno de ellos es que los dueños de las minas se vuelven ricos a costa de la vida de los trabajadores. El ejemplo más claro es que Germán Larrea Mota Velasco, el principal accionista del consorcio minero Grupo México –el dueño de la mina Pasta de Conchos, colapsada por una explosión en febrero de 2006–, ocupa el cuarto lugar entre los multimillonarios mexicanos, y el 48 en el mundo, con una fortuna de 14 mil 200 millones de dólares. Esa es la cara bonita, la de los resultados alegres de la minería; la otra enseña los muertos por oponerse a esta actividad –Óscar Loredo, en Cerro de San Pedro, San Luis Potosí; Mariano Abarca Roblero, en Chicomuselo, Chiapas, y Bernardo Méndez, en San José del Progreso, Oaxaca, son casos emblemáticos–. Pero también están las muertes por enfermedades, la contaminación de las tierras y aguas, privándolos de los medios de subsistencia, devastación ambiental, afectación de la salud de las personas y la destrucción del entorno cultural.

No son los únicos que resisten, naturalmente. Por muchos puntos del territorio nacional la lucha antiminera crece y se fortalece. Son importantes las luchas de Chicomuselo, Chiapas; la de los opositores a la mina Caballo Blanco, en Veracruz; la de San José del Progreso y Capulalpan, en Oaxaca; la que se desarrolla en la región Costa-Montaña, en Guerrero; la de los huicholes en Jalisco, y varios municipios de Chihuahua, Sonora y Baja California, en el norte del país. Son la luchas antimineras más visibles, las que han trascendido el espacio local y sus voces inconformes son escuchadas mas allá de su localidad; la mayoría de ellas inclusive participan en la Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (Rema) y la Asamblea Nacional de Afectados Ambientales. Pero hay más, aunque no se vean. En el mismo estado de San Luis Potosí y su vecino Zacatecas existentes resistencias que no por pequeñas dejan de ser importantes. Hacia allá también se tienden caminos en este undécimo festival de la resistencia minera, para que su experiencia transcienda y abone a la lucha.

Entre los objetivos que los organizadores del encuentro se han fijado está propiciar la coordinación de los diversos movimientos que se oponen a los efectos nocivos de la gran minería, que es al mismo tiempo una lucha en defensa de la vida y el ambiente; también buscan que entre todos los asistentes se genere un diálogo en torno a las posibilidades de establecer lazos de apoyo y unidad entre todos aquellos que se oponen a la gran minería tóxica, para compartir conocimientos, recursos y experiencias que permitan que sus esfuerzos arrojen mejores resultados. Se trata de miras de alto vuelo, porque piensan que ya está más o menos claro el objetivo por el que se debe combatir, pero falta saber cómo se hará, no porque no haya ideas de cómo hacerlo, sino porque abundan, pues aunque los movimientos de resistencia comparten sus objetivos comunes, cada uno tiene sus propias dinámicas, de acuerdo con su tamaño, los recursos con que cuenta para moverse y las relaciones que logra establecer con diversos actores, entre otros factores. Ahí radica la importancia de este undécimo festival de la resistencia a la minería que el 17 de marzo se realizará en el Cerro de San Pedro. De ahí pueden surgir las ideas que permitan dar el gran salto hacia adelante en la lucha por la vida.

Francisco López Bárcenas

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/03/16/opinion/026a2pol

La Jornada: Se duplicaron con Calderón negocios de mineras foráneas.

Con el gobierno de Felipe Calderón prácticamente se duplicaron los proyectos mineros concesionados a empresas extranjeras: el incremento neto fue de 94 por ciento, al pasar de 390 a 757 proyectos entre 2006 y 2010, la mayoría destinados a la explotación de metales preciosos, indican estadísticas de la Secretaría de Economía (SE).

El aumento de proyectos no implica que haya crecido en la misma proporción el número de empresas extranjeras que extraen minerales y metales del subsuelo de México, ya que sólo aumentaron 40 por ciento (de 240 a 286 en el lapso señalado).

Dicho de otra manera, se autorizaron 73 proyectos mineros nuevos en promedio en cada uno de los cinco años mencionados, aunque sólo ingresaron al sector nueve empresas nuevas anualmente.

Las autoridades y la Cámara Minera de México (Camimex) se ufanan en declarar que México se ha erigido en el cuarto destino mundial para la inversión en exploración minera y el primero en América Latina, pero, aunque operan aquí empresas originarias de 14 naciones, siete de cada 10 son de Canadá, las cuales dominan la exploración y explotación de yacimientos de oro y plata.

El año pasado el valor de la producción minera en el país llegó a 13 mil 900 millones de dólares, de los cuales 60 por ciento provino de lo extraído por empresas extranjeras, de acuerdo con Camimex, además de que la mayoría se exporta.

Baja el capital externo

Sin embargo, aunque las compañías foráneas consiguen más que las nacionales en la producción minera (en cuanto a valor por el tipo de metales y minerales que extraen), sucede lo contrario en las inversiones que hacen.

Los capitales extranjeros en el sector han bajado como proporción de la inversión total en esta industria y ni siquiera rozan los montos de la inversión nacional.

Al principio del sexenio la inversión extranjera minera sumó 657 millones de dólares, que representó 34 por ciento de los mil 923 millones de dólares registrados entonces. En 2008 bajó a 616 millones de dólares o 29 por ciento de la inversión total; luego subió a 929 millones en 2008, pero frente al récord de 3 mil 656 millones de dólares de ese año apenas representó 25 por ciento.

Para 2009 la inversión extranjera en la minería tuvo tal desplome que sólo logró aportar 15 por ciento del total, según estadísticas de la SE. No obstante, según Camimex, en lo que toca a proyectos de exploración, sí supera a los capitales nacionales, al concentrar 70 por ciento del total.

El auge minero logró desplazar el año pasado al turismo como cuarto generador de divisas, sólo superado por la industria automotriz, el petróleo y las remesas de migrantes. El sector minero captó 15.4 mil millones de dólares, contra 11.8 mil millones de la industria sin chimeneas.

El constante incremento en los volúmenes de producción de 18 metales preciosos y algunos de los minerales y minerales no ferrosos, siderúrgicos o no metálicos, como la industria los clasifica, así como el alza que algunos de ellos han registrado en años recientes, ha hecho que México se coloque en los primeros 20 lugares a escala mundial.

Es el principal productor de plata, tiene el sitio11 en oro y el 12 en cobre, pero también destaca en bismuto, fluorita, celestita, wollastonita, manganeso, diatomita, plomo, grafito, barita, cadmio, molibdeno, zinc, sal y feldespato.

Destaca el caso del oro, en tanto que su aportación en el valor de producción minera nacional se triplicó en los años recientes, ya que antes del sexenio actual sólo representaba 8 por ciento del total y el año pasado llegó a 25.4 por ciento. En 2006 sólo se producían 39 toneladas de oro, pero el año pasado ya fueron 79 toneladas, un incremento de 103 por ciento y ocho veces más de lo que se producía hace 20 años.

Los registros de la SE sobre los 757 proyectos mineros que operan 286 compañías extranjeras detallan la preponderancia canadiense. Por sí solas tienen a su cargo 556 proyectos y operan otros 30 en asociación con firmas de otros países, es decir, 586, que representan 77 por ciento del total de empresas mineras foráneas.

En sus asociaciones trabajan en conjunto con 10 empresas de México, nueve de Estados Unidos, seis de Australia, dos de Reino Unido, así como un proyecto con una empresa de Corea, otra de China y una más de Japón.

Ni siquiera Estados Unidos, el principal socio comercial de México y que tanta influencia tiene en la economía nacional, ha podido acortar la gran ventaja de Canadá, ya que prácticamente hay cinco empresas de su competidor por una suya. En total hay 44 compañías estadunidenses con 113 proyectos, apenas 15 por ciento del total.

En el reparto de este lucrativo mercado destaca el caso de 13 empresas de Canadá que tienen concesionados 14.5 por ciento de los proyectos: Dia Bras Exploration Inc, con 16, seguida por Oro Gold Resources Ltd, y Pediment Gold Corporation, con 14 cada una. Luego, MacMillan Gold Corp y Soltoro Ltd, con 11 proyectos cada una; Canasil Resources y Chespeake Gold Corp, con otros 10 por firma; Remstar Resources Ltd y Golden Goliath Resources, con nueve, así como Evrim Metals Corp y Silvermex Resources, con ocho, además de que también comparten proyectos. Otras que destaca Camimex son Pan American Silver, Alamos Gold, Farallon Resources y Teck Cominco.

Con lo redituable que ha resultado el negocio minero en estos años para las empresas extranjeras, y particularmente las canadienses, al parecer lo mejor (para ellas) está por venir en los próximos años, ya que los proyectos y minas que tienen concesionadas son a largo plazo y, según Camimex, ya superaron en inversión a las nacionales en cuanto a proyectos de exploración, es decir, los nuevos yacimientos, al concentrar 70 por ciento del total.

Los datos oficiales precisan que de 757 proyectos en manos extranjeras, únicamente 2.64 por ciento están en etapa de desarrollo, es decir, sólo 20. Otro 9.38 por ciento enproducción (71) y hay 6.74 por ciento o 51 suspendidoso postergados por financiamiento.

En cambio, 615 o bien 81 por ciento del total, son proyectos en exploración, así que los resultados en producción, exploración y ganancias que dejen se sabrán hasta los próximos años, paralelamente a problemas ambientales o laborales que han caracterizado al sector. Más aún, si se considera que la Camimex destaca el potencial minero de México al citar al Servicio Geológico Mexicano:70 por ciento del territorio nacional es apto para seguir localizando yacimientos minerales de clase mundial. De hecho, la industria minera sólo está ausente en cuatro estados.

Susana González G.

Periódico La Jornada

Lunes 19 de septiembre de 2011, p. 3

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/09/19/politica/003n1pol

FORO: MINERÍA EN SANTUARIOS Y REGIONES CULTURALES DE AMÉRICA LATINA

PROGRAMA
MIÉRCOLES 7 DE SEPTIEMBRE
LUGAR: PISO 14 TORRE 2 DE HUMANIDADES
– Antrop. Gilberto López y Rivas
– Comisariado de Bienes Comunales de Capulalpam, Sierra Juárez, Oax.
– Periodista Gloria Muñoz Ramírez
– M.C. Salvador y Juan Trasviña-Medio Ambiente y Sociedad-B.C.S.JUEVES 8 DE SEPTIEMBRE
LUGAR: Auditorio Bassols, FACULTAD DE ECONOMÍA
– Frente Amplio Opositor a la Minera San Xavier
– Alianza Pachamama, Uruguay
– Antrop. Claudio Garibay Orozco-CIGA-UNAM, Morelia
– Coordinadora Regional de Autoridades Comunitarias, Gro.VIERNES 9 DE SEPTIEMBRE
LUGAR: AULA MAGNA, FACULTAD DE FILOSOFÍA Y LETRAS
– Econ. Pablo Dávalos-PUCE, Ecuador
– Consejo Regional Wixarika-AJAGI
– Antrop. Arturo Gutiérrez del Ángel-COLSAN
– Colectivo Oaxaqueño en Defensa de los Territorios

Instituciones, Seminarios y organizaciones convocantes:
Seminario de Investigación “La Invención de Fronteras: Diferencia y Derechos Colectivos desde una Perspectiva Latinoamericana” Centro de Investigaciones sobre América Latina y el Caribe, UNAM. http://www.cialc.unam.mx/p​df/seminariosoriano.pdfPrograma de Posgrado en Estudios Latinoamericanos, UNAM.
http://latinoamericanos.po​sgrado.unam.mx/
http://www.facebook.com/Es​tudios.LatinoamericanosLaboratorio de Análisis de Organizaciones y Movimientos Sociales-Centro de Investigaciones Interdisciplinarias en Ciencias Sociales, UNAM.
http://telematica.politica​s.unam.mx/LAOMS/laoms.html
http://www.facebook.com/LA​OMS.2Red Nacional de Jóvenes Indígenas México (RENJI)
http://www.renjimexicoac.c​om/
http://www.facebook.com/pr​ofile.php?id=1809396924

Caravana Estudiantil Ricardo Zavala
http://www.facebook.com/pr​ofile.php?id=1000014935771​95

Frente Amplio Opositor a la Minera San Xavier (FAO)
http://faoantimsx.blogspot​.com/
https://www.facebook.com/F​AO.FrenteAmplioOpositor

Frente en Defensa de Wirikuta Tamatsima Wahaa
http://frenteendefensadewi​rikuta.org/wirikuta/

STATEMENT FROM MEXICAN NETWORK OF MINING-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES REGARDING RCMP RAID ON BLACKFIRE MINING.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) raided the offices of Blackfire Exploration Ltd in Calgary, Canada on July 20 as part of investigations into accusations against the company and its directors of having bribed the former mayor of the Municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas, Mexico, Julio César Velázquez Calderón. [1]

This conflict, which is steeped in irregularities, illegalities, and collusion between the Canadian mining company, the Mexican federal government and environmental authorities, the Chiapas state government, and the municipal authorities, culminated with the assassination of anti-mining leader Mariano Abarca Roblero on November 27, 2009.

One year and four months after a complaint was made to the RCMP for investigation into bribery in this case, in March 2010, [2] the RCMP has begun to act on the evidence brought forth and on the confession of the company. Not in vain, Transparency International published a report in May, which put Canada in last place in the struggle against bribery and corruption among G7 countries and among member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which includes around forty nations. [3]

The Canadian government’s slow pace continues to cover up those companies that violate laws beyond its borders. This also explains why the majority of the world’s mining companies have their headquarters in Canada or are registered in this country, a paradise for corporate impunity. Since Canada approved the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act in 1998 only two cases have been addressed. In 2005, a small fine was levied against an Alberta based company, and there has been an additional case of corruption in [Bangladesh].

On the other hand, only six days after assuming his post on January 6, 2011, the new mayor of Chicomuselo, Límbano Miguel López, decried that “the ex-public officials (ex Muncipal President, Julio César Velásquez Calderón, ex Trustee Alirosay Muñoz Pérez, ex Alderman Conrado Flores Hernández, in collusion with ex Treasurer Lidubin Ramos Cifuentes and ex Director of Public Services Abigail Morales Ramírez) still had not handed in the cheque-books for the city’s public accounts, leaving the books of the treasurer in disorder (…), nor have public works records and tax records had been found.” [4]

Terri Lynn Batycki of the RCMP alleges that Blackfire illegally paid Julio César Velásquez  Calderón “to keep the peace and prevent local members of the community from taking up arms against the mine.” In response to these accusations against Blackfire, Pierre Gratton, President and Executive Director of the Mining Association of Canada, said that he supports the law, indicating that Blackfire is not a member of this association, and denying that bribery is a big problem within the mining industry.

Not only is the culture of corruption and of poor public management under ex Mayor of Chicomuselo clear, but bribing municipal authorities is a common practice among  multinational mining companies given that it is the municipality that must authorize land use changes and other aspects necessary for mining companies, as well as who may assert territorial control and security for mining investments.

Within this context, we demand that the RCMP determine who is responsible and punish those found guilty as soon as possible. It is also urgent that the RCMP make a visit to Chiapas in order to further their investigations. In the same way, we demand that the governor of Chiapas, Juan Sabines Guerrero, facilitate investigations into the corruption of ex Mayor of Chicomuselo in response to the complaint and supporting evidence of money changing hands between Blackfire and former Mayor of Chicomuselo, which REMA and Otros Mundos A.C. brought before the Prosecutor’s Office of the State Congress of Chiapas and the Council of the Municipality of Chicomuselo.

TIMELINE [5]

Between 2008 and 2009, the mayor of Chicomuselo was bribed by Blackfire. Otros Mundos, AC and REMA-Chiapas brought the evidence to light. [6]

In June 2009, Blackfire complained about the mayor’s excesses before the congress.

On November 27, 2009 employees of Blackfire assassinate the representative of REMA in Chicomuselo, Mariano Abarca Roblero.

December 2009, the government of Chiapas temporarily suspends Blackfire’s mine operations and jails three people implicated in the assassination.

February 2010, Horacio Culebro Borrayas, legal counsel for Blackfire, is jailed.

March 10, 2010, nine Canadian organizations request that the RCMP investigation Blackfire for alleged violation of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act.

June 30, 2010, REMA and Otros Mundos A.C. make a formal complaint for intervention from the Superior Prosecutor’s Office of the State Congress and of the Congress of the State, as well as the Municipal Council of Chicomuselo, with the objective that the alleged bribes that Blackfire made to the Muncipal President be clarified. To date, there has been no response to this complaint. [8]

Blackfire out of Chiapas!

[1] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/rcmp-raid-calgary-miner-over-bribery-allegations/article2145226/

[2] See the following document: http://www.otrosmundoschiapas.org/index.php/mineria/86-mineria/631-solicitan-a-la-policia-real-montada-de-canada-investigar-a-la-minera-blackfire.html

[3] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/canada-ranked-worst-of-g7-nations-in-fighting-bribery-corruption/article2032347/

[4] http://www.diariodechiapas.com/noticias/2011010619312/region/siembran-el-caos-exfuncionarios-municipales-corruptos-de-chicomuselo

[5] To see all of the prior incidents in the Blackfire case, see: http://www.otrosmundoschiapas.org/index.php/mineria.html

[6] See the following documents: http://www.otrosmundoschiapas.org/index.php/mineria/99-mariano-abarca/583-los-pagos-de-la-minera-canadiense-blackfire-al-presidente-municipal-de-chicomuselo-chiapas.html

[7] See the following document: http://www.otrosmundoschiapas.org/index.php/mineria/86-mineria/631-solicitan-a-la-policia-real-montada-de-canada-investigar-a-la-minera-blackfire.html

[8] See the following: http://www.otrosmundoschiapas.org/index.php/mineria/99-mariano-abarca/781-rema-chiapas-demanda-investigacion-por-corrupcion-del-ayuntamiento-y-la-empresa-canadiense-blackfire.html

Analysis: Hidden Hegemony: Canadian Mining In Latin America.

Canada’s mining industry is the largest in the world, and in 2004 its world market share accounted for 60 percent of all mining companies. In fact, the entire Latin American region is second only to Canada in terms of the breadth of its mining exploration and development activity.[i] In what some call the “halo effect,” Canadian industries have been perceived as the more conscientious alternative to their U.S. equivalents. Since Canadian industries are understood to have socially responsible practices, especially in contrast to those of American companies, they are typically welcomed abroad.[ii] Nonetheless, recent accusations that the Canadian mining company Pacific Rim played a role in the death squad killings of anti-mining activists in El Salvador has brought this reputation into question, while further investigation into the Canadian government’s regulation reveals that the government has mandated no true restrictions on its industry’s mining practices abroad. Left to its own accord, the Canadian mining industry has no problem destroying landscapes, uprooting communities, and even resorting to violence to promote its interests; for this reason, only government regulation can affect true change. A recent move by the Peruvian government to protect citizens near the city of Puno demonstrates that Latin American governments may finally be willing and able to regulate Canadian mining companies operating within their nations.

The Evolution of Canadian Mining in Latin America

In the period from 1990 to 2001, mineral investment in Latin America increased by 400 percent, and by 2005, the region was receiving 23 percent of total worldwide exploration investments. The Canadian mining industry’s share of the Latin American market is the largest of any country, at 34 percent in 2004.[iii] However, even with a substantial flow of Canadian investment in the mining sectors of these countries, living standards have not tangibly improved for those in proximity of the mines, despite the image portrayed by the mining industry.

For a large part of the 20th century, the majority of the mineral wealth in Latin America was government property. Beginning in the 1980′s, the regional shift to neo-liberalism also saw the transfer of state property to transnational corporations. [iv] The immediate entry of the Canadian mining industry into the Latin American market corresponds with this neo-liberal shift. The Canadian government used various means to facilitate and promote the Canadian mining industry’s entry into the region including funds from the World Bank, IMF and incentives provided by Canadian foreign policy initiatives themselves. Since the 1980s, structural adjustment programs implemented in Latin America have opened the region’s markets to incentivize investment from the world’s wealthiest nations. Canada has been a particularly vocal advocate of these measures, hoping to expand its economic interests in Latin America. [v]

Canada also promotes its economic reach in Latin America through Free Trade Agreements. In addition to its leadership role in NAFTA, Canada has established Free Trade Agreements or Foreign Investment Protection Agreements with many Latin American states, and has been a principal proponent of the Free Trade Area of the Americas.[vi] Canada’s Free Trade Agreement with Peru allowed the country to become Canada’s third-largest trading partner in Latin America by 2007.[vii] This increase is largely attributed to the rising price of mineral resources, especially since, “Gold and other precious metals constituted more than 53 percent of Peruvian exports to Canada in 2007.”[viii]

The Canadian government’s most controversial means of promoting its mining interests in Latin America is through foreign aid. Under the pretext of foreign aid, the Canadian International Development Agency or CIDA awarded Peru with a CAD 9.6 million, USD 6.2 million[ix] investment to the Mineral Resource Reform Project in a move meant to promote Canadian mining interests in the nation.[x]

One Canadian Mining Company’s Response to Resistance

Canadian mining companies often resort to extreme measures to promote their interests. The Canadian government has failed to regulate its mining industry abroad, but accusations that Pacific Rim, a mining company based in Vancouver, played a role in the deaths of anti-mining reporters in El Salvador demonstrates the extent of destruction that mining can reach in the region when left unchecked. In a July 12, 2011 statement, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont condemned the killings of anti-mining activists in El Salvador following the June 14, 2011 discovery of Juan Francisco Duran Ayala’s body; he was last seen posting flyers critical of gold mining in the region. His death is the most recent of numerous violent attacks against anti-mining activists in the country’s Cabañas region. [xi] In 2010, three anti-mining activists in the region were gunned down, after receiving numerous death threats citing their activism regarding the El Dorado mine in El Salvador. As a result, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demanded that the Salvadoran government protect the rights of journalists and the media. [xii]

One radio station in El Salvador, Radio Victoria, reports receiving death threats as well as threats on family members unless they curb their anti-mining expression.[xiii] Reporters without Borders described the station’s critical role, saying, “For nearly a decade, Radio Victoria has been the mouthpiece of local communities and environmental activists opposed to the mining operations of Vancouver-based Pacific Rim Mining Corp. The station has played a key role in providing the local population with information about the dangers that the mining poses to their health and even their survival.”[xiv] Given Radio Victoria’s strong anti-mining stance, one reporter said, “We don’t trust the men who are protecting us. The mining company has connections with the local authorities. I don’t trust the local police.”[xv] The Prosecutor General’s Office is in charge of this investigation, but despite the national and international attention surrounding the events, no report was issued as of June 2011.[xvi] The failure to produce any real answers surrounding these threats and murders suggests that Pacific Rim’s influence may reach beyond local death squads to the Salvadoran government.

The Negative Effects of Canadian Mining Around the World

Canadian industries operating abroad have always benefitted from positive perceptions of the nation’s practices resulting from the aforementioned “halo effect.”[xvii] However, in truth, Canadian mining often has drastic consequences for local environments and communities; thus, recent activities, in reality, stand to dampen this image. Across the globe, Canadian mining companies destroy landscapes, contaminate the environment, and disturb the lives of locals. Meanwhile, the Canadian government does little, if anything, to hold these companies accountable for their exploits. In effect, environmental groups recognize that Canadian mining firms are “just as bad as the most ruthless of American companies.”[xviii]

To illustrate, one Canadian gold mining company, Goldcorp, maintains mines in the following Latin America nations: Mexico, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. Goldcorp represents just one of the many Canadian mining companies in Latin America, yet its mines have been associated with numerous infractions, including the destruction of archaeological sites, acid mine drainage, water resource depletion in drought-prone areas, polluting water resources with copper and iron, high levels of arsenic and lead in local inhabitants, mercury poisoning, pipeline bursts, and disregarding the pleas of locals.[xix]

The Effects of Mining on the Environment

Depletion of water resources and contamination are the principal negative ramifications of mining, in addition to physical destruction. Mining companies often forcibly monopolize water resources, as many mining techniques require large amounts of water. As a result, local communities are left with a profound shortage or impaired quality of water. For example, Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in Guatemala uses approximately 2,175,984,000 liters per year compared to the 153,300 used by an average North American citizen or the average 13,505 liters used by an African citizen.[xx] The problem is exacerbated in areas that receive as little as 150 mm of rainfall per year such as northwest Argentina, where the joint venture Alumbrera mine operated by Goldcorp, Xstrata and Northern Orion depletes the already precarious water supply, leaving locals in desperation.[xxi]

Water pollution has a more detrimental and long-lasting effect on the environment than water depletion. Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), the most common form of mining contamination, occurs when sulfides housed in the rock are exposed to air during excavation, forming sulfuric acid. This acid runs off into nearby streams and lakes, polluting the surrounding watershed. The acid dissolves other heavy metals it encounters such as copper, lead, arsenic, zinc, selenium and mercury, which further pollute the surface and ground water of the region.[xxii] AMD can continue for thousands of years after the mine is closed, as illustrated by a 2,000-year-old mine in Great Britain that continues to produce AMD today. Goldcorp mines have been associated with AMD in four Latin American countries: Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and Argentina.[xxiii]

Cyanide, used to extract gold and silver from the surrounding rock, makes large-scale processing possible, but when released into the environment, it can have serious consequences. On average, 70 tons of waste is created in the processing of 1 ounce of gold. At Goldcorp’s San Martín mine in Honduras, an average of .78 ounces of gold is extracted from every ton of ore, and an enormous amount of rock must be moved. When chemically treated rock and ore, known as ‘mine tailings,’ spill during transport, the water supply can become contaminated with cyanide.[xxiv] Though mining companies report that cyanide is broken down by sunlight and transformed into a nontoxic form, it frequently harms, or even kills, aquatic life.[xxv] At the La Coipa mine in Chile, a former Goldcorp holding, mercury as well as cyanide was discovered in groundwater as a result of mine seepage. Blood samples taken from the local community population near Goldcorp’s San Martín mine in Honduras registered high levels of mercury, lead and arsenic.[xxvi]

False Hope and Canadian Bill C-300

The Canadian mining industry’s operations in Latin America have unquestionably harmed the surrounding environments and communities and influenced the policies of the host nations.[xxvii] Despite this, the Canadian government refuses to enforce any type of human rights regulations outside of Canadian territory; instead, the government supports the mining industry both financially and politically regardless of its practices. Several enlightened segments of the Canadian government took a stand against the government’s policy with respect to foreign mining practices, but to no avail. The parliamentary Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Trade issued a report calling for reforms regarding mining in foreign countries. However, the government responded stating that no precedent for prosecuting or regulating practices outside of the Canadian territory currently exists. The government established a round-table to address the issue, viewed by many critics as an ineffective stalling tactic. [xxviii]

Canadian Bill C-300, also known as the Responsible Mining Bill, provided a glimmer of hope for increased accountability of Canadian mining industry practices in the developing world. The bill would have ensured compliance with the stringent international environmental practices the Canadian government claims to uphold, as well as reaffirmed Canada’s commitment to human rights. Additionally, the bill would have outlined environmental standards for the Canadian extractive industry, provisions for grievances to be brought before the ministers of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and public reporting of any dismissed complaint in the Canada Gazette.[xxix] According to Bill C-300, any government funding for Canadian extractive companies abroad would be contingent upon compliance with the aforementioned standards and would require confirmation by the local Canadian embassy. C-300 was the legal apparatus to ensure acceptable practices by Canadian mining firms abroad. Although C-300 passed on the second reading in 2009, the bill ultimately failed to pass the final vote in the House of Commons on October 27, 2010.[xxx] This was an unfortunate victory for the Canadian mining industry, and was yet another sign that the current Conservative government does not support human rights and environmental health, at least not when Canada’s extractive industry could see its profit margin adversely affected in any way.

However, the government holds that it does in fact support human rights in developing nations through the controversial IMF and World Bank structural adjustments plans.[xxxi] In spite of Canada’s rather flattering reputation for high moral standards, at least in comparison to the U.S., Canada’s support for human rights appears quite dubious at times. Ottawa refused to sign the United Nations’ Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that requires consent from indigenous groups before any projects can commence on their land. Canada, along with Australia, called for revision, which significantly slowed the process and ultimately blocked its passage. [xxxii] The failure of this declaration was a certain victory for the Canadian mining industry in Latin America, which conducts its business almost exclusively on inhabited territory.

Nearly all new mine locations are located either on inhabited lands or close to established communities. Given the almost certain environmental degradation and pollution associated with mines, as well as the possible disruption in game and foul patterns, local communities tend to oppose mining. Though permission is technically required from indigenous communities before exploration or mining can begin on their lands, this is often a mere formality that does not even remotely protect the interests of the community. Because of this, mining is a persistent source of conflict in the region, pitting local and indigenous communities against large Canadian mining companies.[xxxiii]

Responses to Canadian Mining

Latin American resistance appears inevitable given the contradiction between the government’s policies and the citizens’ sentiments. Many Latin American citizens express little confidence in the private sector’s management of mineral extraction industries.[xxxiv] Local communities typically bear the brunt of mining cost, while profits are carted off to foreign headquarters of the mining company, leaving only a fractional percentage of profits within the capital or other major cities of the host nation. Since neither the Canadian government nor the respective national governments protect the rights of local community members, these communities are forced to stand up for themselves through protests and blockades.

Changing Times– One Latin American Country Turns Feisty and Stands up to Mining

Despite the efforts of Canadian mining companies to go to unacceptable lengths to ensure their interests seemingly at any cost, recent action taken by the Peruvian government may demonstrate a change in policy with regard to the Andean nation’s support of Canadian mining companies. In 2007, the Peruvian government granted a concession to the Canadian company Bear Creek Mining for rights to land near Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca. In early May of this year, protests broke out in the Puno region, demanding a halt to mining exploration and a revocation of the concession. Originally, protesters were relatively peaceful, blocking the Bolivian border crossing and other highways. However, in late May the protests turned violent, and participants began torching government buildings and threatening to interfere with the June 5 presidential election. The García government responded by putting a hold on all new concessions for twelve months, but this was not enough for the protesters; they later blockaded more roads and spread unrest throughout the entire Puno region, threatening other industries there as well. The government decided to revoke Bear Creek’s concession, despite outrage expressed on behalf of the company. Unfortunately, this decision was not made until the police fired on a group of protesters headed toward the Juliaca airport.[xxxv]

This decision by the Peruvian government symbolized a decisive victory for local interests and demonstrated a shift in government policy. Until recently, Peruvian government policy mechanically supported economic interests over those of its citizens. This policy shift was likely invigorated as a result of the June 5 presidential election, in which the left-leaning populist Ollanta Humala was elected. In the Puno department, Humala, a champion of rights and economic prosperity for all Peruvians, won the election decisively with 78 percent of the vote, the largest margin of all 26 of Peru’s departments.[xxxvi]

Conclusion

Canada, a country with a supposed commitment to environmental health and human rights, has the largest extractive industry presence in Latin America. Nevertheless, the Canadian government refuses to take any action when its extractive industry’s practices fail to guarantee an accord with the country’s broader allegiances to ethical practices abroad. Unchecked mining in Latin America has grievous repercussions for the environment and the populations in surrounding areas. However, given the large political and economic influence that the Canadian extractive industry wields, even at times resorting to violence, Latin American governments often neglect the best interests of their citizens and environment when they act to join forces with foreign multinationals against their own citizens. Fortunately, this trend seems to be changing, as seen with the Peruvian government’s revocation of Bear Creek Mining’s concession amidst the uproar from local communities. Sadly, this movement turned violent before the government reacted in the name of its own citizens. For this reason, it is imperative that Ottawa hold its industries accountable to some approximation of environmental and human rights standards, both at home and abroad.

References for this article can be found here.

About the author:

COHA

COHA, or Council on Hemispheric Affairs, was founded in 1975, the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), a nonprofit, tax-exempt independent research and information organization, was established to promote the common interests of the hemisphere, raise the visibility of regional affairs and increase the importance of the inter-American relationship, as well as encourage the formulation of rational and constructive U.S. policies towards Latin America.

[1][i.] Gordon, Todd and Webber, Jeffery R. ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin              America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 70

[1][ii.] Derek Abma, “Our halo is wearing thin amid business scandals,” Vancouver Sun, July 1, 2011, accessed July   5, 2011, http://www.vancouversun.com/story_print.html?id=5034584&sponsor=.

[1][iii.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin             America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 72

[1][iv.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin            America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 67-8

[1][v.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin             America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 66

[1][vi.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin            America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1,

[1][vii.] Stephen J. Randall, “Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America: Trade, Investment and Political Challenges,” Canadian International Council, accessed July 7, 2011, http://www.opencanada.org/wp-            content/uploads/2011/05/Canada-the-Caribbean-and-Latin-America_-Trade-Investment-and-      Political-Challenges-Stephen-J.-Randall.pdf.

[1][viii.] Ibid.

[1][ix.] “Historical Exchange Rates,” Accessed July 8, 2011, Oanda.com, http://www.oanda.com/currency/historical-   rates/.

[1][x.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin              America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 69

[1][xi.] “Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Violence Against Antimining Activists In El             Salvador,”             Accessed July 21, 2011, The Office of Senator Patrick Healy,               http://leahy.senate.gov/press/press_releases/release/?id=e29a4642-bd56-46e1-  bda8-                94799fff9e53

[1][xii.]Edgardo Ayala. ” Radio Station under Threat in Mining Region,” Accessed July, 21, 2011, Inter Press Service,                 http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=56111

[1][xiii.] Ibid.

[1][xiv.] Ibid.

[1][xv.] Ibid.

[1][xvi.] Ibid.

[1][xvii.] Derek Abma, “Our halo is wearing thin amid business scandals,” Vancouver Sun, July 1, 2011, accessed July               5, 2011, http://www.vancouversun.com/story_print.html?id=5034584&sponsor=.

[1][xviii.] Ibid.

[1][xix.] “Investing in Conflict, Public Money, Private Gain: Goldcorp in the Americas,” Rights Action, Accessed June               22, 2011, http://www.rightsaction.org/Reports/research.pdf.

[1][xx.] Ibid.

[1][xi.] Ibid.

[1][xii.] Ibid.

[1][xiii.] Ibid.

[1][xiv.] Ibid.

[1][xv.] Ibid.

[1][xvi.] Ibid.

[1][xvii.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin          America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 64

[1][xviii.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin         America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 69

[1][xxix.] Joan Russow, “Canada Day 2011: 100 Reasons to Not Celebrate,” Pacific Free Press, July   1, 2011,   Accessed July 7, 2011, http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1-/9099-100-reasons-to-not-       celebrate-canada-day.html.

[1][xxx.] Ibid.

[1][xxxi.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin          America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 70

[1][xxxii.] Ibid.

[1][xxxiii.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin        America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 68

[1][xxxiv.] Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber, ‘Imperialism and Resistance: Canadian mining companies in Latin       America’, Third World Quarterly, 29:1, 72

[1][xxxv.] Lucien Chauvin, ” Peru’s Airport Siege: A Bad Omen for the New President,” Time, June   27, 2011,                Accessed July 7, 2011, http://www.time.com/time/world/article          /0,8599,2079964,00.html#ixzz1RWaxRMv0.

[1][xxxvi] Ibid.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/hidden-hegemony-canadian-mining-in-latin-america-analysis-28072011/

DIA MUNDIAL CONTRA LA MINERIA A CIELO ABIERTO. 22 DE JULIO 2011.

DIA MUNDIAL CONTRA LA MINERIA A CIELO ABIERTO

22 DE JULIO 2011

 

AL PUEBLO DE MEXICO
A LA COMUNIDAD INTERNACIONAL

La minería a cielo abierto es vorazmente destructora, el daño que provoca es irreversible y permanente, consiste en la voladura de montañas, grandes superficies de territorio y subsuelo con miles de toneladas de explosivos. Se utiliza principalmente para la extracción de metales preciosos, en zonas donde su presencia es dispersa, incluso a razón de medio gramo de oro por cada tonelada de roca. La única posibilidad de acceder a estas mínimas concentraciones de mineral es mediante la destrucción total del territorio a partir de tajos a cielo abierto. El material triturado con explosivos es sometido a procesos químicos como la lixiviación con cianuro, que requiere millones de litros de agua pura al día (en Cerro de San Pedro, por ejemplo, Minera San Xavier utiliza 32 millones de litros de agua al día mezclados con 16 toneladas de cianuro, esto es, en una hora esta mina consume el agua que utiliza una familia durante 10 años).

         El impacto sobre mantos freáticos y fuentes de agua es severo, no sólo por la sobreexplotación sino también por su contaminación con metales pesados, provocando enfermedades crónico degenerativas que llevan a la muerte. La minería a cielo abierto genera miles de millones de toneladas de desechos de material estéril que es depositado sobre miles de hectáreas a la redonda de los tajos, acidificando la tierra y dejándola improductiva de forma permanente. La pérdida de biodiversidad también es irreversible, así como la modificación agresiva de los paisajes y sus cauces hídricos.

         A partir de los años 90’s se modificaron las leyes en casi toda América para dar paso a este tipo de extracción de minerales preciosos y facilitar la obtención de concesiones a empresas trasnacionales, principalmente canadienses, negocios de unos cuantos que solo dejan a su paso un terrible saldo de destrucción de patrimonio ambiental e histórico para los pobladores actuales y para las futuras generaciones. Los pasivos ambientales, la destrucción de territorio, la división de las comunidades, la pérdida de soberanía e independencia, así como los daños jurídicos son parte del enorme precio que pagan nuestros países por permitir este tipo de minería, misma que resulta increíblemente barata para las corporaciones mineras, pues generan un mínimo de empleos y los costos de producción del metal precioso son muy bajos en la actualidad.

         Este tipo de proyectos mineros depende de una red internacional de corrupción que permite la compra de voluntades políticas, de jueces, de poblaciones en situaciones de miseria e incluso de gobiernos enteros. Cualquier procedimiento jurídico que sigan las comunidades para defender sus territorios de la amenaza de la minería a cielo abierto se ve rebasado por la imposición ilegal que los poderes fácticos hacen de dichos negocios depredadores, mismos que se presentan como ofertas de progreso y desarrollo. El caso de la canadiense New Gold-Minera San Xavier en Cerro de San Pedro es paradigmático: después de que la sociedad civil ganó la anulación jurídica del proyecto, la empresa, con apoyo de todos los niveles de gobierno, decidió imponer su proyecto violando las leyes nacionales, pisoteando la soberanía de nuestro país y comprando impunidad con sus aliados político-empresariales.

         Los pueblos nos encontramos totalmente indefensos ante estas mafias internacionales, porque a pesar de los múltiples daños que provocan, también logran penetrar entre los pobladores y aprovechándose de la pobreza e ignorancia, logran dividir a los pueblos, generando graves conflictos internos. Actualmente en México hay alrededor de 22 mil concesiones de exploración y más de 850 proyectos mineros de tajo a cielo abierto, lo que representa la entrega del 20% del territorio nacional. Esta nueva fiebre del oro y su método depredador asociado se encuentra ya en todos los países del hemisferio sur, tanto en América Latina, África y Asia

Por lo anterior:

Convocamos a participar  en la defensa de la tierra y el agua, de la soberanía de nuestros países y del patrimonio de las futuras generaciones, llevando a cabo acciones que manifiesten la oposición a este tipo de minería.

·         Favor de enviar fotografías de las acciones que realicen en otros lugares al correo cspfao@gmail.com, para su amplia difusión.

En la ciudad de México haremos un plantón en el Ángel de la Independencia el viernes 22 de julio a las 17:00 hrs, (lleven mantas, carteles, paraguas e impermeables). 

“¡Mientras nosotros apostamos por la vida, ellos apuestan por la muerte!”

Betty Cariño

¡El agua y la vida valen más que el oro!

Kolektivoazul/Frente Amplio Opositor a New Gold-Minera San Xavier

Comunidades Campesinas y Urbanas con Alternativas.

México: territorios, pueblos indígenas y minería. 12 de Abril, 2011.

El 12 de abril se realizará el foro “Territorios y pueblos indígenas en la mira de la explotación minera”. El evento es organizado por la Coordinadora Regional de Autoridades Comunitarias de la Costa – Montaña de Guerrero y la Red de Apoyo a la CRAC-PC como parte de la campaña “A corazón abierto defendamos nuestra Madre Tierra en contra de la minería”.

El foro se llevara a cabo con la participación de los expertos de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM): Ana Esther Ceceña, del Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas; y de Rodrigo Gutiérrez Rivas, del Instituto de Investigaciones Jurídicas.

Participarán además, representantes del Frente Amplio Opositor a la Mina San Javier (San Luis Potosí); de la Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA) (Chicomuselo, Chiapas); y del Frente Tamatsima Wahaa en defensa de Wirikuta (Pueblo Wixárika, Jalisco, Durango y San Luis Potosí).

Del mismo modo, expondrán Francisco López Bárcenas, del Centro de Orientación y Asesoría a Pueblos Indígenas; Gilberto López y Rivas, del Centro INAH Morelos; y Francisco García, del Comité para la defensa de los territorios y los recursos naturales de Capulalpam de Mendez.

El evento irá de 10 de la mañana a tres de la tarde, en la Facultad de Ciencias Políticas de la UNAM, en el Distrito Federal.

 


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