Archive for the 'Mining/ Exploitation minière/ Minería' Category

Mining exploitation in the Maya region

Issues related to mineral extraction and land use are leading to a global increase of upheaval. In fact, deaths caused by environmental conflicts have “almost doubled in the last three years, to a rate of over two killings a week in 2011” (Global Witness Report, 2012). The Maya region of Central America exemplifies this increase in violence as communities strive to protect their land from mining exploitation. They do so by exposing the narrow application of international declarations and treaties by mining companies.

In Guatemala, the majority of the 166 mining licenses are subject to indigenous lands, which occurs without the consent of local communities. This injustice is possible as a result of the Mining Law, in which there is no guarantee that indigenous peoples be consulted prior to the licensing of mining agreements. Interestingly enough, this law contradicts the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the ILO Convention 169 which is a binding agreement that entices participatory democracy from local communities. Udel Miranda, lawyer and member of the Church’s Social Pastoral Commission, strongly opposes this violation and stresses that indigenous communities should have “the right to collective land ownership, the right to territory, the right to water, the right to cultural identity, to participation in the decisions that affect development” (Open Democracy, 2012).

Conejo, located in Belize, is one of the two villages that first secured title to their land, in 2010 under the country’s constitution. The Belizean government is restricted from granting exploration or extraction licences to these territories without the “free, prior, and informed consent” of the villagers. The government is also prohibed from “issuing any concessions for resource exploitation, including concessions, permits or contracts authorizing logging, prospecting or exploration” before verifying property rights with tribal communities (Open Democracy, 2012). Guatemala Maya is next to attempt the inauguration of this law in their legislation. However, as citizens are confronted with significant dangers, fighting for their rights becomes increasingly difficult as their freedom of speech is breached.

In “The right of Guatemala’s Indigenous Peoples” to referenda: the rupture between discourse and practice, the Council of Western Peoples (CPO) noted attempts to suppress the organization of referenda by indigineous peoples through acts of violence, which is, surprisingly, tolerated by the State of Guatemala. Even more so, “in 90 per cent of referenda, there is evidence of peer harassment, the persecution of leaders, initiation of criminal proceedings against the leaders, and attempts to discredit, delay or cancel the event”. Companies also attempt to assimilate community leaders through monetary offers and efforts to divide communities (Open Democracy, 2012).

As can be seen, this legislation is bittersweet for the indigenous communities. Yes, they have the right to decline the negotiation of a mining law agreement. However, are their voices heard? If the answer is ‘yes’, does this eliminate the possibility of their marginalization and criminalization?





Mining in Honduras

Governmental legislation

Canada and Chile take part in public security reform and proposed mining, oil and gas legislation in Honduras.

In October 2011, the son of the UNAH rector Castellanos was murdered along with a friend by police in the Honduran capital city, Tegucigalpa, which prompted the creation of the Honduran Public Security Reform Commission created by Honduran Congress in January 2012. Aquiles Blu Rodriguez, a retired General from Chile’s Carabineros national police force, Adam Blackwell, Blu Rodriguez and three Hondurans, Jorge Omar Casco, Matias Funes, and Victor Meza, form the committee. Their goal is to design, plan and certify a process of integral reform of public security in Honduras by investigating and evaluating the performance not only of the national police force, but also that of public prosecutors and judges (Spring & Cuffe, 2012).


Goldcorp is a fast-growing senior gold that operates and develops in the Americas. However, activists claim that Goldcorp does not operate in Honduras in the same way it operates in Canada. Activists of Goldcorp’s operations in Central America gathered in a 6,000 km walk to the miners and residents of Trimmin. Reina Gamora, a Honduran school teacher and protester claims that “[Goldcorp workers] operate through utilizing the corrupt government that operates in Honduras. They ignore the human rights and environmental impacts their operations have”.

Moreover, there are 50 million tonnes of contaminated material surrounding the San Martin mine, located in the Siria Valley and over 80% of people living close to the mine have suffered serious sickness. Residents and farm workers discovered they have high levels of lead and zinc in their blood and urine.

To add to the damage, neither the government nor Goldcorp is taking accountability for the health issues.

Civilians injustice

Honduran civilians’ issues go far beyond those of mining. Since the June 2009 coup that removed President Manuel Zelaya, dozens of murders of journalists and LGTB activists occurred, as many of them were actively involved in the resistance movement to the coup. Most recently, on May 14, Erik Martinez, an LGBT activist, was found murdered. Two days later, journalist Alfredo Villatoro was found dead for which arrests were made last week, one of the people detained being a police officer.

“Since the coup, the State of Honduras has received a lot of recommendations including from the Truth Commission, in which national and international representatives – including a representative from Canada – participated at the service of [President Porfirio] Lobo,” explains Oliva, one of the country’s most prominent human rights activists. “They gave [over 80] recommendations and none have been complied with.”

Honduran and international non-governmental organizations (NGOS) have engaged in their own campaigns on the issue, for law reform and corporate accountability; however, the grassroots movement in Honduras has largely been led by local community members from areas directly affected by mining projects and concessions. A Congressional Committee had also been working on a mining law proposal requiring fifty per cent State involvement in all mining ventures. However, work on draft legislation to that effect, developed by affected communities and NGOs alongside presidential advisors, was cut short by the 2009 coup.

Civilians have no where to turn to when the police do not have public credibility, the government is unresponsive to their needs and large corporations are exploiting their lands.





US to implement EITI. What about Canada?

Extractive Industries Trasparency Initiative (EITI) have reported that President Obama intends to implement its mandate on greater transparency within the extractive industry. Canada lags behind as it has thus far only agreed to become a supporting nation of the EITI.

In his speech President Obama said: “Today, I can announce that the United States will join the global initiative in which these industries, governments and civil society, all work together for greater transparency so that taxpayers receive every dollar they’re due from the extraction of natural resources.”

In the United States’ OGP National Action Plan, the US Government states that it “Is Hereby Committing to Implement the EITI to Ensure that Taxpayers Are Receiving Every Dollar Due for Extraction of our Natural Resources”.

Read full article here.

Credit: EITI Website

Murder of Colombian priest has Canadian civil society groups worried

Mining Watch Canada reports that Canadian civil society groups are calling for stronger protection of human rights defenders after the muder of Colombian priest Jose Reinel Restrepo.

Canadian labour, faith, social justice, and solidarity organizations have sent a letter to the Canadian Embassy in Colombia expressing concern that Canadian mining companies may well be aggravating or benefiting from violence.

Civil society groups are troubled by recent news of the murder of Father José Reinel Restrepo, an outspoken advocate against the displacement of the urban centre of Marmato in the department of Caldas to make way for an open-pit gold mine project owned by Toronto-based Gran Colombia Gold.

Read full article here.

World Bank funds destructive projects.

Credit: Wikimedia

In this interactive map created by the World Development Movement, some of the World Bank’s most destructive world projects are displayed. From open pit gold mines that have destroyed food and water supplies in Guyana, to the hydropower project in Laos that displaced over 6, 000 indigenous people living on the Nakai Plateau, it is evident that the World Bank often undermines both the environment and human rights.

See the map here.

La nueva edición de MAC: Minas y Comunidades

El sitio web de MAC anuncia que ahora hay una versión semanal disponible en español. Esta pagina de internet revela

los impactos sociales, económicos y versión de la minería, en particular cuando afectan a Pueblos Indígenas y poblaciones que dependen de la tierra. De escala global, el sitio fue lanzado por organizaciones e individuos de 12 países quienes se reunieron en Londres, en 2001, para demandar una mayor justicia y transparencia a la industria minera.

Para visitar la pagina Aqui

Mining for human rights in Latin America

Embassy Magazine’s Jim Creskey discusses the Canadian Government’s failure to uphold  its promise to ¨to strengthen and promote Canada’s foundational values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

In the last session of Parliament, Liberal MP John McKay introduced a bill that would have offered some regulation of Canadian mining corporations operating overseas. The bill, C-300, was defeated in its third reading but it seems it’s far from dead—outside Parliament in the court of public opinion.

“C-300 was a glorious failure,” Mr. McKay said last week in an interview.

Real full article here

Credit: Wikimedia

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