Mining Paradise: The Police and Army visit Junin- on the same day

Posted on | augustus 27, 2012 | No Comments

Mining Paradise: The police and military harass Junin. In the same day!

Within hours of each other, first a squad of 20 anti-narcotics police take to hills above Junin supposedly based on a denunciation of a plantation of coca. Hours later- and I am not making this up- a squad of 8 military personnel, all equally heavily armed- tried to establish a camp in the Junin community.

The coca connection was not the only farce of the day, however. Someone in the laughable group, perhaps the district attorney, said that there was talk of FARC roaming our hills and mountains (Farc is the rebel guerrilla group in Colombia). Any pretext to see how effective the community responds to an outside threat, to identify the leaders, and see how the community defense structure operates in real life.

This all took place on Friday, 24th of August. Which may turn out to be another watershed date in the long struggle against mining and short-sightedness in Intag and Ecuador.

But first, the police. They came with a district attorney which they try to camouflage as one of their machine-toting members. The land they were visiting happens to be an ex Copper Mesa property that the campesino owner decided he wanted to continue living there in view that the company did nothing with the land. Apparently, the company is suing the ex-owner to get him evicted. So, the police was supposed to search the land, find coca plants, arrest the perpetrator, and so forth.

Well, what happened was that Junin and nearby communities didn’t like it that a bunch of heavily armed police were trampling around their community forest reserve without their permission. According to reports, some of the police were shouldering backpacks, as if maybe they intended to stay a while. The community folks followed the cops up very steep hills and demanded an explanation. When the coca story didn’t convince anyone, they got a little mad and demanded the cops and their big guns and district attorney get the hell out of there.

Which they did.

Calm returned to the hills, valleys and communities of Intag, Ecuador. For about 4 hours.

The next ridiculousness came about when 8 military personnel, escorted by another police car, tried to go directly to the Junin community. Again, without asking permission.

Now we always are grateful when these clowns make the work of the communities easier by making dumbass mistakes such as these. And sure enough, this time a bigger crowd of about 60 campesinos and campesinas, mostly Junin residents, but also from Chalguyacu alto and Chalguyacu Bajo, came out to “welcome” the military. This they did similarly of their welcoming the paramilitaries in December of 2006, with sticks and machetes. At one point, according to an eye witness, one of the military took off the safety on his machine gun and started to aim it at one of the leaders of the crowd. That didn’t go over too well, as you can imagine, and several of the women yelled, if you’ve come to kill us, then kill us, but you are not going to Junin (yelled at fully armed military!!). The standoff lasted about 45 minutes, and well, you probably know the outcome. As with the paramilitaries in 2006, the military turned around and left for parts unknown.

What were they doing you trying to go to Junin might ask? The story, from the very mouth of the official leading the soldiers, was that they were investigating the possible presence of military personnel in the Junin area, possibly FARC, and that they were there to protect the community!! That possible presence of military, were, of course, the 20 anti-narcotics police.

I wonder what upholders of the public peace and order the government will send next to investigate the investigators.

That was this week. Last week the government was embarrassed big time when a group of 20 (twenty) employees of the National Mining Company visited a few towns to “socialize” the work the National Mining Company – ENAMI- does and talk a little bit (very little bit) about the Llurimagua mining project; formerly known as JUNIN mining project. Oh, they also came all the way from Quito to enlighten Intag residents on the results of a survey carried out by ENAMI in June (which I blogged about back then). Well, in every town the socialization went from bad to worse. It was worse in Junin where the people didn’t even let the functionaries speak and told them they were not wanted, nor wanted to be seen in their communities ever again.

In Peñaherrera it was barely better, but the result was the same, they were told to leave before they could say much at all. I was told they left in a sort of a hurry. One memorable phrase as they were leaving from a woman: WHAT PART OF NO IS IT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND??

Garcia Moreno went a little better for them, they were able to give reign to their bull to about 90 people. However, at the end, everyone saw how little they said and how much they were holding back. People were not pleased when they were unable or unwilling to answer some rather important questions (such as what is the Codelco connection with Enami). End result: people distrusted ENAMI and the employees, many thought they were being lied to, and that basically, they were no different than the Canadians.

The meeting in Apuela was a total fiasco for the Enami employees. Hardly anyone came out to hear them on a market day, a day where hundreds of people visit Apuela. It was embarrassing how bad they lied to the few of us who were there. One of the things that pissed off a few people was that they did not mention CODELCO, the Chilean company who was given the green light by Correa and company to start digging around Junin’s pristine cloud forests after the second semester of 2013. Enami is just there for the show and to pave the way for Codelco (the world’s largest copper producer). The presentation was so bad that I felt bad for the Emanies. No one took the Pepsis and potato chips that they had brought for snacks.

And this is how the most recent episodes of the new season of Mining in Paradise unfolded here in Intag in the past couple of weeks.

Do stay tuned, because all of this soldering and phony police presence has to lead up to something. Correa is too much in debt to the Chinese and too much in need of money to keep afloat his populist programs. Which is kind of weird because the Canadian companies recently pressured the President to sharply curtailed the windfall taxes on mineral extraction (the details will soon be known). What this means, is less money for the government. So, go figure. I suppose it has much to do with the government’s insistence of receiving cash before mines open in advanced payment of royalties and other taxes. Or just plain greed by the mining companies, who do not like, and are not used to, paying more than the minimum they can get away with.

FINALLY, (Tis late for me),, today was the day of the wonderful INTAG LIBRE anti-mining song, dance, and theather festival in the town of Magdalena Bajo. Hundreds of folks from Quito, Otavalo, Cotacahi, and many many from Intag, showed up, first to hear a forum on the mining hassles afflicting the country, but then for music and fun. As soon as I get some photos and more reports, I hope to share (i was only there for the first part of the event)

AUTHOR: Carlos Zorrilla
URL: http://decoin.org
E-MAIL: toisan06 [at] gmail.com

 

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