Latin American countries with large scale mining projects have a vast number of social conflicts between mining companies and their governments.
According to the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Latin America (OCMAL) there are currently 120 active conflicts involving more than 150 affected communities throughout the region.
Mining is, of course, all about money. The Mirador Open Pit Copper Mine is owned by China. At present Ecuador owes China some $8 billion, which is 19% of Ecuador’s GDP. Ecuadorian bankers report that Ecuador is looking for a $10 billion credit line from China, which will put the loans from China to $18 billion, representing 24% of GDP.
This money has to “service”, in other words, interest has to be regularly paid.
President Correa is selling the environment of Ecuador to service these loans. This “sale” is displacing Indigenous Tribes, and allowing their lands to be poisoned.
The Constitution of 2008 is being “breached” in the categories of the Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples, The Rights of Nature, The Right to Water and the Right to “The Good Life”.
The social fabric of Gualaquiza and the surrounding district of The Cordillera Del Condor and The Mirador Open Pit Copper Mine , is beginning to be impacted with land disputes, criminalization of dissent, the introduction of drugs, prostitution, and “Mafia” type organizations intimidating citizens. There is a strong possibility, talked about in Shaur Assemblies, of the militarization of the Southern Amazon to totally quell dissent.
In the area of the Tundayme River, in The Cordillera Del Condor, fish have died and people are becoming sick from contaminated water from the “exploration” process of the Mine. The mine has now been granted “exploitation” rights, which magnify these social impacts many times over.
The Shuar will eventually no longer be able to live on their lands. The poisoning of their waterways and lands has already started. Their way of life and their Culture will be decimated. The social impact affects both Shuar and Non Shuar communities. The whole character and the culture of the area will be irrevocably changed.
There is no “way back” after “Grand Scale” mining. The eco systems absorb the heavy metals which pass through the food chain and are in turn absorbed by all life forms. Over the years the poisoning, sickness and death build up until such areas are impossible to live in.
Culture is destroyed, people are made “landless” and society is totally degraded. Ecological bio diversity is severely impacted to the level of total destruction. The destruction also applies to the “life quality” presently enjoyed by the people who live both in the area of the direct and indirect “social impact” of the mine.
We can find such societal impacts in “war zones”. That is what President Correa is instigating in the Cordillera Del Condor.
For further reading, the following are good sources of information:
- report on Human Rights issues relating to EcuaCorrientes who own The Mirador Open Pit Copper Mine.
- report by Amnesty International entitled “So that no one can demand anything – Criminalising the right to protest in Ecuador”.
- editorial from the New York Times illustrating President Correa’s disregard for the right to Free Speach.