Mining in San Juan, Argentina: Lawsuit for threats and damages
Media Release, 13 July 2005
Anti-Nuclear Movement of Chubut, Argentina
Argentina National Ecological Action Network RENACE
Javier Rodríguez Pardo filed a criminal complaint against the Chief of Mining Police of San Juan, making the government responsible for threats to his personal well-being. The official had labeled him a terrorist, among other accusations. The complaint was filed on July 7 2005, in the First Court of the province of San Juan, under law 273/05 for repeated injuries and threats against ecologist Javier Rodríguez Pardo.
The Patagonian environmentalist was present in the San Juan province at the invitation of independent citizens groups, grape growers associations, and small agricultural producers, increasingly worried about the open-pit mining of gold utilizing mixtures of toxic chemicals. In the past few months, Rodríguez Pardo has published several texts in the Cuyo region and in Chile. He travelled the Uco Valley in Mendoza, invited by mayors and council members; and was a guest at a small farm in Tamberías, in the San Juan department of Calingasta, where he carried out activities in support of the public referendum on mining which was finally prohibited by the provincial electoral council.
In one of his talks to the Neighbors Union of Barreal (Calingasta), government officials interrupted him, branding him a "ecological terrorist."
"I didn't think to file a complaint then," says Rodríguez Pardo, "because I figured that it was just an outburst by the chief of Mining Police of the province, Ing. Carlos Marcelo Ghiglione, who despite being a typical thug with bad taste, was in the presence of the actual Director of Mining, Ing. Bustamante, who did nothing to prevent the insults, and furthermore," continued the environmental leader, "because the officials were subsequently thrown out of the premises by community members there, and to me this seemed a sufficient punishment."
"But the incidents get a lot more serious," continues Rodríguez Pardo, "for while we were in Calingasta, professors in the city of San Juan put on conferences to debate the mining operations, and in them, used some videos where I explained the methods of mineral extraction, the contamination and the plunder of the mines, replacing my presence with the videos. There were other people speaking against the mining, and the next day, the government came to present their position, as the organizers had planned. Answering questions of teachers and students of the Provincial School of Technical Education (EPET N°7), Ghiglione launched into an acrimonious diatribe, full of insults. A video caught the fury of his voice, branding me a terrorist: 'He is a terrorist, and I accuse him as such, here and where ever he is.'"
"Rodríguez Pardo is a terrorist," he said many times, adding, "He is a terrorist from the 70s," to the students and people present who, ill at ease, asked him to take care of his words, because "you are insulting Rodríguez Pardo." The official responded that "I'll accuse him here and wherever," without heed to the meaning of the terminology he used: "To seriously injure." One can hear the arrogance and the impunity of the police chief clearly in the video and from the numerous witnesses, in addition to other significant defamations made by the official, who was accompanied that day by the Subsecretary of Mining of the province, Ing. Felipe Saavedra, also a speaker that day, who did nothing to prevent or mend the damage of Ghiglione’s words.
"In these cases," says the environmentalist from Chubut, "the terms and words of Carlos Marcelo Ghiglione carry also the unspoken blessing of the hierarchy of the Provencial Government, of the Ministry and offices of Mining. For that, I say the Government of Governor José Luis Gioja is responsible for putting into jeopardy my physical safety, for I can't help but think of the numbers of people who have been 'disappeared' in Argentina, and dozens of cases which still have not been resolved in the province of San Juan. Labeling someone a terrorist is making a death threat, in reality, in times like these, it is like sentencing one to death, which was the impression that the audience at EPET left with," concludes Rodríguez Pardo, "because of the definition that the world has of what is a terrorist, and the global campaign to rid the world of this scourge."
FOR MORE INFORMATION (in Spanish only):
Javier Rodríguez Pardo: 02965-15417785 (cell); e-mail: machsepa21(at)yahoo.com.ar
RENACE: cursoaves(at)yahoo.com.ar or see www.renace.net