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News Release

Community Demands Justice Following Death of Neighbour Shot by Security Guard at Canadian-Owned Mine in Chile

Source: 
OLCA Chile – Communities of the Valle de Coalinga – MiningWatch Canada

On November 3rd, Nelso Enrique Carvajal Pizarro, a 59 year old community member in Manquehua, Chile, was shot by a security guard associated with the mining company “Tres Valles” (MTV). MTV is in Canadian company Sprott Resource Holdings’ investment portfolio, with SRHI owning 70% of the Chilean company. MTV operates the MTV copper mining complex, which houses two copper deposits.

Following the homicide, SRHI released a news release, saying, “There, within the mine’s property, the guard was confronted by several individuals not associated with the mine’s operations damaging company property. As a result of an altercation, the security guard was severely injured and one of the individuals fatally shot.”

However, on that same day, the Prosecutor’s office of Illapel, in analyzing the company’s claim of self-defence, denied this possibility, noting that Nelso Carvajal was shot directly in the back.

Now, communities of the Valle de Coalinga have released a public declaration calling into question the use of lethal force by the security guard, but also the more deep and structural issues of how private property protection is overriding their constitutional right to life. They say, “Our Constitution guarantees, above all, the right to life. We cannot tolerate, under any circumstances, that the right to "property" come before our right to life. The force was excessive and caused irreparable damage.

They denounce the company’s comunique which balanced the loss of life with the protection of property, and denounce the failure of the relevant authorities to take swift action to investigate this matter.

They demand justice for the family, and demand immediate action be taken by the relevant public authorities, impartially and independently from the company.

The full statement can be read below.

Media Contacts:

  • Cristina Farias, Spokesperson for the Communities, +56 98 431 0136 (WhatsApp, in Spanish)
  • Kirsten Francescone, MiningWatch Canada, +1 (437) 345-9881, kirsten@miningwatch.ca (to translate interviews)

PUBLIC DECLARATION

In relation to the homicide of our neighbour, Nelso Carvajal, for the shot perpetrated by one of the guards of “Minera Tres Valles” last Sunday November 3rd , the communities of Valle de Chalinga would like the public to know the following:

  1. We lament the death of our neighbour from Manquehua, Nelso Enrique Carvajal Pizarro, and we lend our solidarity to his family. In a cowardly act, he was shot in the back and directly to his head, which was corroborated by the prosecutor's office on November 4th, 2019.

  2. We energetically condemn the indolent attitude of the “Tres Valles” mining company, which was expressed in their communique last Sunday. It is abnormal to equate this cowardly homicide which a grave injury, in order to merely justify a criminal act. We are concerned that the company is presenting subjective background information, in the middle of an investigation which requires absolute rigor by all parties.

  3. This criminal act demonstrates, once again, how the “Tres Valles” company views the community. It also expresses the need for serious intervention by the authorities, which until now have not ruled in relation to the fact, despite its seriousness. It bothers us that the authorities remains indifferent, while the need to review any security protocol in common spaces, where private companies and rural communities that own these spaces travel, is logical and necessary. It is important to note that people were never informed as to where there was free transit, exposing the community to fatal situations, such as those that occurred last weekend. We demand a statement by, and the immediate intervention of, the government authorities.

  4. It is questionable that Tres Valles is failing to recognize the use of a firearm as a guard’s instrument. And even more troubling is the lack of a psychological examination to people who fulfill fundamental tasks, in relation to the external space of their facilities. It is appropriate to reflect, in all its dimensions, on how Tres Valles “greets us.”

  5. We know that nothing will give Nelso's family enough comfort, but we demand that the company repair - to a fair extent - their pain, without the need to wait for legal action.

  6. Our Constitution guarantees, above all, the right to life. We cannot tolerate, under any circumstances, that the right to "property" come before our right to life. The force was excessive and caused irreparable damage.

As communities of the Chalinga Valley, we will remain alert, awaiting immediate action.

Signed by:

  • Neighbourhood Union “Nibaldo Saez” 
  • Neighbourhood Union “El Estero”
  • Neighbourhood Union “Villa el Pardo”
  • Neighbourhood Union “Chalinga”
  • Villa Luisin Landaez Committee 
  • Neighbourhood Union “Huanque”
  • Neighbourhood Union “Cunalagua Centro”
  • Neighbourhood Union “Senor de la Tierra” 
  • Neighbourhood Union “El Boldo”
  • Neighbourhood Union “Manquehua Salamanca” 
  • Neighbourhood Union “San Agustin” 
  • Rural Potable Water Committee “Chuchimi” 

[Translated by Kirsten Francescone, MiningWatch Canada – any errors are my own]