Posted on | augustus 18, 2012 | No Comments
I admit it, I thought he would wait until after the elections- due to take place in Februrary- before sending in the mining thugs to try to impose the government’s mining agenda on Intag’s communities. Yet, as I recall, I think I mentioned the fact that when it comes to mining, very little would surprise me, and that stupidity frequently prevails.
So, this past Wednesday, at the Parish government of Garcia Moreno, where the Japanese Agency for Interactional Cooperation found Junin’s copper, delegates from the national mining company- ENAMI- had a strong run in with Shisela Morales, the president of Garcia Moreno (equivalent of a Municipal mayor). Ms Morales was accompanied by a few elected officials.
The mining officials insist on socializing the mining project directly with the communities. The Garcia Moreno government- which is autonomous- insisted that before it attempts it, ENAMI should turn over essential information about the mining concession and its plans to start advanced exploratory activities during the second semester of 2013. They were also, again, warned about the possibility of its presence provoking social unrest and conflicts. Arrogance won the day, and ENAMI went about visiting communities to set up the unwelcomed meetings in spite of the local government’s wishes.
To underline the discontent the communities feel about the possible return of the mining nightmare, and the indignation with this kind of arrogance, the ENAMI officials were stopped close to Junin and told them they were not wanted, and warned not to return.
CODELCO, the world’s largest copper producer, would actually do all the exploratory work, since ENAMI hardly knows up from down when it comes to mining.
One of the first meetings ENAMI set up was in Apuela, for this Sunday (19th). They hope that in this Parish government, which is about 3 hours away from the mining site and will not be directly impacted, they will be heartly cheered. The same day, ENAMI hopes to meet in the Parish government of Peñaherrera, with the same intended results. I think, they are in for a unpleasant surprise, however. Though there are a few people who are vociferously pro-mining in these two Parish governents, most of the populace reject the divisions, violence and general social chaos that mining brought to Intag with the Canadians.
To help allay some of this fear, ENAMI representatives, who are travelling with a very prestigious publicity firm, is assuring everyone that with them, things will be different: no violence, no paramilitaries, no shooting at defenseless farmers, no judicial set ups, and LOTS OF MONEY for roads, clinics, new high schools, and blablablabla, AD NAUSEUM.
Few people, however, know that there is a very dark history of when governments become directly dependent on rents coming from large scale mining. I am talking about disappearances, extra-judicial killings, criminalization of all opposition, invented lawsuits, and the use of army to quell resistance. In the infamous case of the Bouganville copper mine, in order to keep the money flowing to the coffers of the Papua New Guinea government, the government itself hired paramilitaries to quell the protest against the mining project that ended up with the murder of tens of thousands of islanders. The mine was shut down, and the conflict provoked a low-level civil war, which is still ongoing 30 years later. Papua New Guinea is, by no means, the not place where these kinds of abuses have taken place. On the Indonesian side of island, there have been numerous human rights violations associated with the partly government-owned Grasberg gold and copper mine. The list is rather long. But in summary, when governments own or partly own very productive mines and are heavily dependent on rents from these mines f to pay for its army, police, and other “essential” government services, you can expect gross human rights abuses.
The meeting for Junin is set for this coming Monday (20th). At the time of this writing, communities are meeting to determine how to best confront the new threat.
AUTHOR: Carlos Zorrilla
E-MAIL: toisan06 [at] gmail.com