(Ottawa/Toronto) A petition circulating on sumofus.org rapidly obtained almost 300,000 signatures this past week.
The petition, distributed in both English and Spanish, calls on Calgary-based Infinito Gold to stop threatening Costa Rica with a $1 billion lawsuit over the Crucitas mine project near the border with Nicaragua and the San Juan River.
The company lost its bid to build a mine in successive court decisions in Costa Rica and has been threatening to bring a case to the World Bank’s investment arbitration tribunal, ICSID, in order to mine for lost profits.
Based on this tremendous outcry against an unjust framework that allows companies to bypass domestic court and government decisions when they don’t suit their interests, we state the following:
To Infinito Gold:
Your threatened suit against Costa Rica is quickly becoming a poster child for the problems with the international investment framework created by free trade agreements (FTAs) and foreign investor protection agreements (FIPAs) to prioritize corporate profits over the well-being of communities, workers, and the environment.
We call on you to stop threatening to sue Costa Rica, and to drop your remaining defamation suits against an environmental activist and two legislators.
Your recent financial statements paint the picture of a mining company that is effectively insolvent but that is being kept alive by succesive loans from its major shareholder. These loans can be traced back to Calgary billionaire Ronald Mannix, who could have called in several of them that are long past due. Why hasn’t he?
To the Government of Costa Rica:
We hope that you will welcome this outpouring of support and that it will encourage your administration to remain firm in defence of environmental health through the prohibition of open-pit mining and against the Crucitas project on the basis of successive Supreme Court decisions in your country.
We urge you to continue legal prosecution against members of the former Arias administration, including ex-President Oscar Arias, who have been accused of inappropriately granting Infinito Gold a licence when there was a moratorium in effect on all large-scale mining in Costa Rica. We are concerned about the potential influence that an alleged donation from Ronald Mannix, Infinito’s largest shareholder, to the Arias Foundation in 2008 could have had on this decision and will press for Canadian authorities to divulge all of the information available in this regard.
We hope you will seek to withdraw Costa Rica from legal measures (such as the 1999 FIPA with Canada) that have made it subject to international arbitration that serves mainly to protect corporate interests over the public good.
To the People of Costa Rica:
As Canadians we share this expression of solidarity to support your ongoing fight against the unjust and recriminatory legal processes that the company Infinito Gold has taken out against several professors, lawyers, and legislators in order to get its way against your will. We hope that this strengthens your efforts to defend a healthy living environment.
To the Government of Canada:
For the last 20 years, Canada has pursued and negotiated trade and investment agreements that promote and protect the rights of investors at the expense of human rights, labour rights, and environmental standards. The conduct of Canadian mining companies such as Infinito Gold is one of the results of that agenda. Canada must revise or renegotiate its existing trade and investment agreements and pursue an investment agenda based on respect for human, community, labour, and environmental rights.
We reiterate the call made on April 16, 2013, in an open letter from eight Canadian organizations to the CEO of Infinito Gold and copied to Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, demanding that the Canadian government immediately make public any and all information it may have pertaining to this case, including the information requested by Costa Rica with regard to funds allegedly transferred by Infinito Gold’s major Canadian backer, Ronald Mannix, to the Arias Foundation.
The Canadian Department of Justice originally responded to a request in this regard from the Costa Rican Attorney General, who stated that Canada did not answer all of its questions. The Canadian Department of Justice then denied an access to information request to make public the text of the Canadian response, currently being appealed with the Office of the Information Commissioner. This information must be released and the Costa Rican Attorney General’s inquiries responded to in full.
To the People of Canada:
Many Canadian vacationers know Costa Rica as an eco-friendly destination, a well-deserved reputation threatened by the spectre of open pit mining in ecologically sensitive areas of the country. We need to continue to work in solidarity with mining-affected communities, to educate, speak out and call for a complete overhaul of the agenda Canada is pursuing in order to ensure that the public interest, not narrow private gain, is put front and centre.
- Blue Planet Project
- Common Frontiers
- The Council of Canadians
- MiningWatch Canada
- United Steelworkers
- President and CEO of Infinito Gold Mr. John R. Morgan
- Torys LLP, Calgary Office (lawyers for Infinito Gold)
- Attorney General of Costa Rica Mr. Jorge Chavarría
- Costa Rican Minister of Exterior Trade Ms. Anabel González Campabadal
- Costa Rican Ambassador to Canada Mr. Luis Carlos Delgado Murillo
- Canadian Ambassador to Costa Rica Ms. Wendy Drukier
- Canadian Minister of International Trade Mr. Ed Fast
- Canadian Minister of the Department of Justice Mr. Peter MacKay
- Information Commissioner of Canada Ms. Suzanne Legault
- NDP Critic for International Trade Mr. Don Davies
- Liberal Critic for International Trade Mr. Marc Garneau
- Leader of the Green Party of Canada Ms. Elizabeth May
For more information, please contact:
- Jen Moore, MiningWatch Canada, tel. (613) 569-3439, jen(at)miningwatch.ca
- Rick Arnold, former Coordinator, Common Frontiers – Canada, rickarnold(at)i-zoom.net
- Mark Rowlinson, Assistant to the National Director, United Steelworkers, mrowlinson(at)usw.ca, (416) 544-5952
- Stuart Trew, Trade Campaigner, Council of Canadians, strew(at)canadians.org (416) 979-0451