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Arabica Robusta

Peru's great transformation - Opinion - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

  • Since Humala took office, ten people have died in social conflicts in Peru, more than 120 civilians have been wounded, and states of emergency have been declared in two regions. More than 120 farming leaders and human rights defenders are reportedly under criminal investigation for their alleged involvement in protests against foreign mining companies, including one provincial and one state governor, a priest, and two Catholic Church workers.
  • Peruvian groups such as Red Muqui and CONACAMI, a nation-wide coalition of mining communities, say they are not against mining. They want a national zoning plan to designate areas for mining and other industry, agriculture and protected reserves. They're also demanding a moratorium on mining in watersheds and the use of cyanide in gold mining operations.
  • During the strike in November, Humala's prime minister, Salomon Lerner, a left-leaning businessman, was sent to negotiate. He wasn't given much time. One day after Lerner initiated talks, the president trumped him by declaring a state of emergency. This meant that civil liberties were suspended and martial law was in effect. At least 28 people were injured during brutal police repression, including a young farmer who was reportedly paralysed by a rubber bullet fired by police.

    Lerner resigned, allowing Humala to re-stock his cabinet with a decided shift to the right.

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  • The president's national security advisor is Adrian Villafuerte, an ex-colonel with alleged ties to Vladimiro Montesinos, the notorious security adviser to former president Alberto Fujimori. Both Fujimori and Montesinos are currently in jail for human rights abuses and corruption.

    Humala himself was an army captain during Fujimori's rule, and had been accused of crimes such as torture and forced disappearances when he was in charge of the Madre Mia military base. The case against Humala was shelved, but human rights groups in Peru are not satisfied and want to see the former captain on trial.

  • In an attempt to end the conflict, Oscar Mollohuanca, Espinar's provincial governor, asked the national government to mediate talks with the mining company. The following day, while Mollohuanca met with local leaders to plan the negotiations, about 50 police commandos reportedly burst into his office in a scene reminiscent of the reality show Cops.
  • Father Marco Arana, one of the protest leaders, says the government finds it easier to look for scapegoats than "to admit it has a widespread social problem". According to Peru's government ombudsman's office, there are 171 "active social conflicts" across the nation, most centred on mining, petroleum and hydroelectric projects.
  • "You were elected to be the champion of democracy, and not plutocracy, Mr President," wrote Gorriti. "There's still time to adjust your path. I hope you do so. Your success would be a triumph for all of us."
Arabica Robusta

Like Water for Gold in El Salvador | The Nation - 0 views

  • ADES (the Social and Economic Development Association), where local people talked with us late into the night about how they had come to oppose mining. ADES organizer Vidalina Morales acknowledged that “initially, we thought mining was good and it was going to help us out of poverty…through jobs and development.”
  • He talked about watching the river near his farm dry up: “This was very strange, as it had never done this before. So we walked up the river to see why…. And then I found a pump from Pacific Rim that was pumping water for exploratory wells. All of us began to wonder, if they are using this much water in the exploration stage, how much will they use if they actually start mining?”
  • As the anti-mining coalition strengthened with support from leaders in the Catholic Church, small businesses and the general public (a 2007 national poll showed that 62.4 percent opposed mining), tensions within Cabañas grew.
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  • Three people recounted how a Pacific Rim official boasted that cyanide was so safe that the official was willing to drink a glass of a favorite local beverage laced with the chemical. The official, we were told, backed down when community members insisted on authentication of the cyanide. “The company thought we’re just ignorant farmers with big hats who don’t know what we’re doing,” Miguel said. “But they’re the ones who are lying.”
  • Along one wall is the Salvadoran version of the US Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in this case etched with the names of about 30,000 of the roughly 75,000 killed in the civil war. Thousands of them, including the dozens killed in the Lempa River massacre of 1981, were victims of massacres perpetrated by the US-backed—often US-trained—government forces and the death squads associated with them.
  • Anti-mining sentiment was already so strong in 2009 that both the reigning ARENA president and the successful FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, came out against mining during the campaign.
  • We pushed further, trying to understand how a technical analysis could decide a matter with such high stakes. On the one hand, we posed to Duarte, gold’s price has skyrocketed from less than $300 an ounce a decade ago to more than $1,500 an ounce today, increasing the temptation in a nation of deep poverty to consider mining. We quoted former Salvadoran finance minister and Pacific Rim economic adviser Manuel Hinds, who said, “Renouncing gold mining would be unjustifiable and globally unprecedented.” On the other hand, we quoted the head of the human rights group and Roundtable member FESPAD, Maria Silvia Guillen: “El Salvador is a small beach with a big river that runs through it. If the river dies, the entire country dies.”
  • While he hoped this process would produce a consensus, Duarte admitted it was more likely the government and the firm would have to lay out “the interests of the majority,” after which the two ministries would then make their policy recommendation.
  • Oscar Luna, a former law professor and fierce defender of human rights—for which he too has received death threats. We asked Luna if he agreed with allegations that the killings in Cabañas were “assassinations organized and protected by economic and social powers.” Luna replied with his own phrasing: “There is still a climate of impunity in this country that we are trying to end.” He is pressing El Salvador’s attorney general to conduct investigations into the “intellectual” authors of the killings.
  • Our interactions in Cabañas and San Salvador left us appreciative of the new democratic space that strong citizen movements and a progressive presidential victory have opened up, yet aware of the fragility and complexities that abound. The government faces an epic decision about mining, amid deep divisions and with institutions of democracy that are still quite young. As Vidalina reminded us when we parted, the “complications” are even greater than what we found in Cabañas or in San Salvador, because even if the ban’s proponents eventually win, “these decisions could still get trumped in Washington.”
  • The brief methodically lays out how Canada-headquartered Pacific Rim first incorporated in the Cayman Islands to escape taxes, then brazenly lobbied Salvadoran officials to shape policies to benefit the firm, and only after that failed, in 2007 reincorporated one of its subsidiaries in the United States to use CAFTA to sue El Salvador.
  • Dozens of human rights, environmental and fair-trade groups across North America, from U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities and the Committee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador (CISPES) to Oxfam, Public Citizen, Mining Watch and the Institute for Policy Studies, are pressuring Pacific Rim to withdraw the case.
Arabica Robusta

Conflict Minerals on the Blogs: Correcting Misperceptions | Enough - 0 views

  • Some criticisms of this campaign have implied that this issue is at odds with the views of Congolese people and civil society organizations. Again, this is simply false. We tend to be skeptical of anyone who tries to speak on behalf of “the Congolese people” because Congo’s population is far too vast, diverse, and opinionated to be reduced to a talking point
    • Arabica Robusta
      Important point about how "the local people" are often used as supporters (and opponents) of projects.
  • The Security and Exchange Commission is just beginning to work out the details of how the conflict minerals law will be implemented, and industry groups are lobbying hard to see that the SEC regulations carry as little weight as possible, by narrowly defining, for instance, which companies have to report on their activities in eastern Congo.
    • Arabica Robusta
      Corporate dilution of policies
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