Over 40 organizations from around the world have signed a statement in solidarity with the popular assemblies of the southern Argentinian province of Chubut as well as the Indigenous communities and organizations who have been peacefully resisting the imposition of industrial mining in their territory for more than 17 years.
The groups also “repudiate any pressure being exerted by multinational mining companies to influence the legislators’ decisions,” noting that “laws must be respected, whether a company likes them or not.”
The organizations commit to keep watch over the multinational mining companies behind the push to amend the law, reiterating that the people of Chubut have already said NO to mining.
The past few weeks have been fraught with rising tension, as complaints and rumours circulated among the assemblies and organizations of Chubut province that the mining lobby intended to amend a 17-year old environmental protection law that bans open-pit mining and the use of cyanide in the province. Canadian companies Pan American Silver and Yamana Gold have projects in the area, and the former has been accused by deputies of the Legislative Assembly of trying to buy people off in order to amend the law to allow it to advance its “Navidad” project. Last week, representatives of the Canadian diplomatic service also visited the nearby port city of Madryn reportedly to promote mining.
Last night, the tension reached a breaking point when clashes broke out between the police and protestors holding a vigil in front of the assembly as part of the“#losestamosobservando” anti-mining campaign. Six people were initially detained and held for several hours, but three were released in the early hours of the morning. All have now been released and are being accompanied by local organizations as they face processing for minor crimes. The statement also condemns the repression of protests in support of the existing law.
Despite all this, it appears as though legislators were unable to amend the law, marking yet another historic victory for the people of Chubut. We expect that Canadian diplomatic service and Canadian mining companies will take note of this important and enduring victory and cease their unwelcome intervention in the region.
The Canadian organizations who signed on are:
- Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights
- Comité pour les droits humains en Amérique latine [CDHAL]
- Common Frontiers
- Environmental Law Group (University of British Columbia)
- Friends of the Earth Canada
- Maritimes - Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network [BTS]
- MiningWatch Canada
- Mining Injustice Solidarity Network [MISN]
- Mining Justice Alliance
- Mining Justice Action Committee - Victoria
- Mining Justice UBC
- National Union of Public and General Employees [NUPGE]
- Students for Mining Justice
- TradeJustice PEI
See the full list of signatories and the statement here.
Kirsten Francescone, Latin America Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada