Residents in the community of Andalgalá in the department of Andalgalá, province of Catamarca, in northwest Argentina are calling for an end to mining in their region. They are concerned about contamination caused by the Bajo La Alumbrera mine, which has been in operation since 1997 (owned by Xstrata, Goldcorp, and Yamana Gold), the likely impacts of Canadian company Yamana Gold's proposed Agua Rica project - planned to be three times the size of Bajo La Alumbrera, and BHP Billiton's Pilciao 16 project, which would require the expropriation of the very land on which the village of Andalgalá is located.
On February 15th of this year, residents from the town and surrounding area, led by the community assembly, set up a peaceful roadblock to prevent passage of trucks carrying machinery to the Agua Rica project located in the Nevados del Aconquija, an area designated in the charter of the Department of Andalgalá as a "nature sanctuary". They complain that they were brutally removed by a special branch of the police known as the Kuntur, and were "battered, kicked, punched, insulted, attacked with tear gases and rubber bullets at point-blank range." Video footage posted on Youtube provides visual evidence of their accusations. There is also an interview in Spanish with Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner in which he talks about a meeting he had with Canada's department of Foreign Affairs: he was told by officials at that time that he needed to address his concerns with his own government, the implication being that the Canadian government plays no role in its companies' operations overseas.
A letter to Canada's ambassador to Argentina, Tim Martin, from the Argentinian organization Consciencia Solidaria, presents the issues affecting Andalgalá and asks the ambassador to look into the problems associated with the Agua Rica project. It is attached here in both English and Spanish.