Protests, Lawsuits and Arson: South American Mine Resistance 12th April

Thousands of indigenous peoples led by CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) converge on Quito in March 2012 after a 15-day march demanding an end to open pit mining and new oil concessions.Thousands of indigenous peoples led by CONAIE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) converge on Quito in March 2012 after a 15-day march demanding an end to open pit mining and new oil concessions.

• Four hundred protesters stormed the planned site of the Minas Conga mine in Yanacocha, Peru, and set fire to construction equipment yesterday. Minas Conga would be the biggest gold mine in Peru, and has been the target of sustained protests from local indigenous residents who say the mine would destroy their water supply. In July, police killed five protesters in anti-mine clashes; the deaths led to a pending complaint to the Inter-American Human Rights Court.

• On April 3, 30 protesters crashed the opening of the Expominas trade fair in Quito, Ecuador, where the government was seeking to coax new investments in mineral and oil mining. Protesters crashed the inaugural speech by singing a rewritten version of the popular hip-hop song “Latinoamérica” by Calle 13: “You cannot buy Intag, you cannot buy Mirador, you can’t buy Kimsacocha, you can’t buy my Ecuador.”

Ecuador is home to a powerful (largely indigenous) anti-mines movement. Leftist President Rafael Correa’s support for big mining has been a major factor costing him support from much of his former base.

• A Chilean court has suspended construction of Barrick Gold’s long- embattled Pascua Lama mine, based on complaints from local indigenous communities that the mine will destroy their water supply. Unfortunately, the injunction does not affect construction in the Argentinean portion of the project, including the process plant and tailings storage facility.