AGAINST THE IMPERIALISM AND NEOCOLONIALISM OF MINING COMPANIES, THE CURRENT BATTLE OF THE PEOPLES
** Organization is required to win, NGO’s from several countries point out in Puebla
** Emissaries from Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador expose abuses of transnationals
By: Rosa Rojas
Tlamanca, Puebla, March 15, 2014
The struggle against extractive mining “it’s not only for our life, but also an anti-imperialist struggle and against neo-colonialism that is imposed on the peoples with the servile attitude of the neoliberal governments and the agreements on free trade and on protection for foreign investment,” according to what was made clear here today after the exposure of particular cases of problems with mining companies that communities from different states of the country confront, as well as those in Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
It was also clear that to make a front against this “fourth colonization,” organization of the peoples is necessary, their taking of consciousness about what environmental destruction means, which is at the same time the basis for sustaining their life; and mobilization and unity in local, regional, national and international action, because we’re battling “against a monster” multi-formed, transnational, which when it suffers a defeat in any place changes for social reasons, even its nationality –a Mexican mining company sells its concession to a Canadian one, which in turn transfers it to an Australian one– without changing its essence: the rapacity of capital.
The Encuentro of Peoples Against the Extractive Mining Model was organized by the Communities in defense of land and life, the Tiyat Tlalli Council, the Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining, the Mesoamerican Movement Against the Extractive Mining Model, the Center of Studies for Rural Development (Cesder, its initials in Spanish) and the School of Economics of the Autonomous University of Puebla. This Saturday, representatives of the organizations and nations cited above, environmentalists, indigenous peoples and campesinos from Morelos, Chiapas, Oaxaca, Puebla, Guanajuato, and Guerrero and of the Wirrarika (Huichol) people of Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosí (that are only one people, despite the state borders) paraded to the podium.
In some cases, like in Carrizalillo, Guerrero –in the High Mountains of that state–, the battle has already lasted for eight years and the damages to the population’s health and to the environment caused by the Canadian mining company Gold Corporation are manifested in skin and bronchial diseases, congenital deformities, premature births that spill over into the death of 68 percent of those born prematurely, destruction of 11 of the town’s natural springs due to the explosions that the mining company carries out, use and contamination of millions of liters of water per day, and all of that topped of with the cherry of the Federal Prosecutor for Environmental Protection’s (Profepa) “clean industry” certification to the mining company.
In other cases, one of the participants explained, like in El Huizache, in the sierra of Lobos, Guanajuato, the fight is barely beginning; although the exploration work has been advancing, contracting some of the zone’s small property owners that are happy to have work in a place where agriculture is not prodigious, but they have become alarmed because of what they see coming if the concession delivered for an open slash deposit is put into effect. There is a mining tradition in the state –but underground–, thus many people don’t understand the alarm that the new type of industrial mining that approaches has awakened.
Omayra Silvera, of the Coordinator for the Defense of Natural Resources from the Comarca Ngäbe Buglé, of Panama, reported that she comes from an indigenous people that “have made the government tremble” with their mobilizations of more than 6,000 people, including the Inter-American Highway blockage, from border to border, from February 1 to 5, 2012, whose government repression left two dead, hundreds injured, prisoners, and women raped, but the support from international organizations of women, churches and university members “obliged the government to sit down at the negotiating table.”
Said dialogue, she said, resulted in winning the expediting of a special law on the part of the Panamanian Congreso, on March 26, 2012, which cancelled 25 mining concessions and 147 hydroelectric dams that had been granted on indigenous territory of the Ngäbe Buglé, which encompasses 6,968 square kilometers. But the struggle isn’t going to end there, “we are still at the brink of war because they published that a company is going to enter to exploit the Cerro Colorado (Red Hill),” which is one of the largest copper deposits in the world, “because if we remain with our arms crossed, who is going to listen to us?” Omayra asked, in the midst of an ovation from the attendees.
Hermila Navarrete, from El Salvador, related that since 2005 they have not let the Canadian mining company Pacific Ring enter, and that the struggle of the Association of Friends of San Isidro Cabañas led to the government of Mauricio Funes, of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, to expedite a decree that promises that there will be no mining concessions in its administration, which has accepted a complaint before the International Center for Settlement of Differences Relative to Investments for more than 300 million dollars, and the threat of the United States government no to deliver part of the Millennium Funds.
The mine in question, El Dorado, Navarrete indicated, is for gold, silver and uranium. The capital is no longer Canadian, but rather Australian, since Oceana Gold bought the concession.
The representative of the Maya people of Guatemala mentioned that in this “fourth colonization” that our peoples confront, “Guatemala, like Mexico and Central America, is conceded” to transnationals, and that his organization has given birth to “a peaceful struggle of prevention,” promoting more than 80 consultations with the peoples, with many other municipalities; in other words, close to a million people have been consulted that have said “no to mining.”
He also pointed out that as part of the resistance struggle town councils have been constituted in all of western Guatemala, and there are more than 3,000 centers of resistance and struggle in the country, which has cost them “legal cases, criminalization, political prisoners, deaths…” He reported that a few days ago the Chuj, Acateco, Cojtí Plurinational Government was constituted, and on a national scale they have the Council of Huitzilense Peoples and they are part of the Mesoamerican Movement Against Extractive Mining.
Juan Almendarez, from the Mother Earth Movement of Honduras, emphasized that the struggle against extractive mining is anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist and geostrategic, because in his country “mining has never been separated from the Army and police.”
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Sunday, March 16, 2014