Urgent Environmental Alert: Protect the Glaciers of the South of the World!!

Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama Project

Dear friends, in organizations and networks,

In the highest reaches of the South American Andes, on the border of Chile and Argentina, there are eternal snow glaciers of the purest water in the world. One of these, in Pascua-Lama, in the Huasco region of Chile and the San Juan region of Argentina, will be soon destroyed unless we act quickly.

Applying the laws of the Mining Treaty between Chile and Argentina, an agreement made practically in secret between both countries during the presidencies of Carlos Menem and Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, Barrick Gold Corporation, through its subsidiaries Compañía Minera Nevada S.A. of Chile, Barrick Exploraciones Argentina S.A. and Exploraciones Mineras Argentinas S.A, will extract gold, silver, copper and mercury in a open-pit strip mine in the delicate high Andes bioregion directly upon the Argentina-Chile border, destroying the glaciers which have nourished the region for thousands of years and irreversibly damaging the ecosystems and life of the indigenous (Diaguita) communities.

The United Nations and other world organizations have said over and over that the right to water is essential to life, equivalent to any other human right. According to international agreements on the right to water, the State must guarantee the preservation of the water sources for future generations. Pascua-Lama’s glaciers constitute a natural reserve for fresh water for the San Guillermo UNESCO World Heritage Biosphere site. This in a time when more than a billion persons worldwide do not have access to water (UN 1992).

These glaciers constitute a precious source of environmental knowledge, unique in that they carry information of flora, fauna, and the history of many thousands of years of the region of the South Andes.

The mining exploitation will not only ruin the water reserves, but also will irreversibly damage the way of life of the Diaguita people, who have lived in the now-affected zones for many hundreds of years. The strip-mining will damage the environment of ancestral lands of these indigenous people of the Americas.

We are convinced that the destruction of these glaciers will not only affect ourselves and the Diaguita communities, but will also affect all of humanity, because we think that all are equal victims of this attack against historical, cultural and ecological patrimony of the South world. This is the first glacier to be destroyed in the South Andes. Surely after this will come many others.

We will not permit the authorities of the state to authorize this exploitation without the necessary international protection, adoption and guarantee of our human rights.

We think that there is no other solution than to create alliances, associations and work together to do what is necessary to absolutely stop this project, to prevent the damage to the glaciers, to the ecosystem and the memory of the Diaguita people, for the preservation of the historical identity of Argentina, Chile and Latin America.

We invite members of international networks to be part of the activity of this struggle to defend the environment and the history of our people. This project is in an important step in the approval process on the part of environmental authorities of Chile. For this, it is necessary that you take action as quickly as possible.

The glaciers are our right and our children’s right.

We need to count on your solidarity:

1. Forward this Alert to every network, organization, and friend to raise public consciousness over the need to stop this attack on humanity.

2. Send an e-mail to the following addresses demanding that they indefinitely suspend all mining activity in the area, for the preservation of biodiversity, the indigenous historical patrimony, and for the water for future generations.

webmaster(at)presidencia.gov.ar Presidente Néstor Carlos Kirchner
daniel.scioli(at)senado.gov.ar Presidente del Senado Daniel Osvaldo Scioli
spministro(at)msal.gov.ar Ministro de Salud y Ambiente Ginés González García

opinión(at)presidencia.cl Presidente Ricardo Lagos Escobar
sromero(at)senado.cl Presidente del Senado, Sen. Sergio Romero
ascencio(at)congreso.cl Presidente Cámara de Diputados Dip. Gabriel Ascencio
informacion(at)conama.cl Director CONAMA
pavila.3(at)conama.cl Director COREMA III Región Plácido Avila Castro

Organismos Internacionales
cidhoea(at)oas.org Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos
amedeo.buonajuti(at)unep.org Programa Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente
urgent-action(at)ohchr.org Comité del PIDESC – ONU
ngochr(at)ohchr.org Alto Comisionado de Derecho Humanos

3. Sign on to this alert by sending an e-mail to: cpadilla(at)rdc.cl, dcarrasco(at)fdla.cl, or defensadelambiente(at)yahoo.es, enabling it to be presented before the States and International Organisations.

4. Distribute this Alert to all the States that maintain diplomatic relations with Chile and Argentina, their embassies and consulates, and relevant international, regional, and subregional organizations, for the adoption of urgent measures and immediate actions aimed at the total suspension of mining activity in this location.

5. Adopt all other initiatives and affirmative actions towards the environmental protection of the glaciers and their ecosystem. To all the states, institutions, international organizations, networks, and organizations of the world.

Cesar Padilla
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales OLCA

Diego Carrasco
Fundación Ciudadana para las Américas

Luis Alejandro Rojas
Movimiento por los Derechos Ciudadanos.

Jenia Jofré Canobra
CODEFF Amigos de la Tierra Chile

Jorge Capatto
FATAR, Federación de Amigos de la Tierra Argentina

Jürguen Rottmann
CODEFF Amigos de la Tierra Chile

Oscar Rivas
SOBREVIVENCIA Amigos de la Tierra Paraguay

Tatiana Roa
CENSAT, Amigos de la Tierra Colombia

Juan Pablo Lazo Ureta

Claudio Lopez

Analía Cócolo
Capítulo Argentino de la PIDHDD – Argentina

Fernando Rodríguez
Capítulo Boliviano de la PIDHDD – Bolivia

Regina Méndez
Capítulo Mexicano de la PIDHDD – México

Carlos Tamup
Capítulo Guatemalteco de la PIDHDD – Guatemala

Soledad Villagra
Capítulo Paraguayo de la PIDHDD – Paraguay

Natalia Paredes
Plataforma Colombiana de la PIDHDD – Colombia

Alexis Ponce
Capítulo Ecuatoriano de la PIDHDD – Ecuador