Blog Entry

Open Letter: Canadian Organizations Stand in Solidarity with People of Andalgalá Protesting Yamana Gold’s Agua Rica Project

Viviana Herrera

Latin America Program Coordinator

Since March 2nd, the Assembly El Algarrobo has been demonstrating against Yamana Gold’s large-scale copper, gold, silver, and molybdenum project in Andalgalá, Catamarca province, Argentina. The massive mobilizations have included peaceful strikes and selective road blockades leading to the mining camp in the Nevados del Aconquija, in order to interrupt the passage of trucks and suppliers to the Canadian mining company. The peaceful protests have been subjected to police raids and arbitrary arrests.

MiningWatch Canada and CDHAL (le Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine) wish to express our concerns and echo the demands outlined in an open letter written collectively by the Assembly El Algarrobo on April 9th, asking for our support and that we communicate with Canadian mining company Yamana Gold and the Canadian government to express their objections to this project.

We echo their demands to respect peoples’ opposition to the Agua Rica-Minera Alumbrera (MARA) project based on the following:

  • It violates the Glacier Protection Law;
  • It violates the General Environmental Law;
  • It violates Municipal Ordinance 29/16, which prohibits all open-pit metal mining activity, and any form of uranium mining activity, in the upper basin of the Andalgalá River;
  • It does not comply with the ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, which recognizes the right of all the habitants of the region to live in a healthy and balanced environment;
  • The community is currently in a water emergency, and the development of these mining activities will clearly affect their water sources.

We condemn the way the provincial government of Catamarca has responded with extreme violence, including police harassment and repression, night raids and arbitrary arrests. Local media have reported 11 arrests as of April 15.

We denounce police actions that are reminiscent of the civic-military dictatorship where people were extracted from their homes at nighttime.

We denounce Yamana Gold for attempting to assure its shareholders of the benefits of investing in a project that the majority of residents oppose.

We denounce and condemn Yamana Gold for using the pandemic to push forward its mining project against the will of local communities.  Similarly, we condemn the fact that Yamana Gold is pressuring political authorities in Argentina, including in the province of Chubut, to push ahead with its projects despite strong local opposition and environmental laws.

We condemn local police for using the COVID-19 pandemic as a covert to militarize Andalgalá and intimidate peaceful protesters.

We call on the Canadian government to end its silence with regard to the massive protests and the disproportionate use of force by the provincial government of Catamarca. We ask the Canadian embassy in Argentina to make a public statement on social media condemning the violence against water defenders in Andalgalá.

We demand the immediate release of all water defenders arbitrarily arrested. We demand the respect of all the rights of the community, as well as their right to protest and their environmental rights. 

We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in Andalgalá who for over 11 years have been opposing this violent extractivist model. We hear you and are with you in spirit.