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News on Canadian Mining in Latin America

by América Latina al Día

Also posted by Maryann Abbs:

News on Canadian Mining in Latin America from América Latina al Día

100.5 FM – Saturdays 12:00 – 2:00 PM

Ottawa, Canada

January 5, 2013: Just one day before last month's elementary school massacre in Connecticut, the CBC revealed Wednesday, Canada quietly removed its ban on the export of assault weapons to Colombia after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird recommended an order amending the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, or AFCCL.

That opened the door for Canadian gun merchants to sell fully automatic weapons with high-capacity magazines — banned in Canada — to Colombia, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of gun violence.

"Colombia's addition to the AFCCL opens new market opportunities by providing residents of Canada with the opportunity to explore and compete for contracts in Colombia for items controlled under the AFCCL," says a government notice, posted Tuesday.

Canada recently completed a controversial free trade deal with Colombia, which has been plagued by a half century-long civil war, paramilitary violence and serious human rights abuses.

Automatic weapons are often sought by the private security forces contracted in Colombia by Canadian and other mining and oil transnationals in conflict with local communities.

San Marcos, Guatemala

Jan, 12, 2013: Security Guards from the Marlin mine, property of Vancouver-based GOLDCORP, fired Tuesday on the company’s own workers, wounding some 9 employees among the dozens involved in a protest at the mine site.

Goldcorp’s security forces opened fire at the mine in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos province, after the workers demanded payment of their year-end bonuses, required under Guatemalan labour law. Workers said they were also protesting a move by Goldcorp to force employees to sign new contracts agreeing to forgo legal benefits while working at the mine.

In a press release, Goldcorp admitted Wednesday that its guards fired on the workers, but claimed they did so in self-defense after protesting workers seized a weapon from one of the guards. Goldcorp argues that the workers do not qualify for year-end bonuses because their contracts were terminated December 15.

Relations between GOLDCORP and neighbouring communities have been tense since the mine opened in 2005. Community members accuse the mine of depleting and polluting their water, causing respiratory ailments and damaging their homes and several critics of Goldcorp’s mine have suffered violent attacks. However, Tuesday’s violence marks the first time the company has directed its guns on its own workers.

All working Canadians are Goldcorp investors due to the Canadian Pension Plan’s heavy investments in the company.


Bogota, Colombia

Jan. 18, 2013: Alleged leftist rebels abducted yesterday five employees of a Canadian Mining company in the San Lucas mountains of Northern Colombia.

According to a press release issued yesterday by Toronto-based Braeval Mining, about two dozen rebels of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, seized a Canadian, two Peruvians and two Colombians working for the company as they approached Braeval’s Snow Mine site in northern Bolivar state early yesterday morning.

Canadian mining presence in Colombia has expanded rapidly since the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement entered into effect in May 2011. Many of the companies are engaged in deep conflict with local environmentalists and communities where they seek to operate their mines.

The ecologically rich San Lucas mountain range had been marked for conservation, but during the past decade, the Colombian government has opened the area to Mining transnationals.

The ELN guerilla group has enforced forest protection in the San Lucas area since the early 2000s, apparently to protect local hydrology.


Tegucigalpa, Honduras


January 26, 2013: The Honduran congress approved Wednesday a new mining law that opens almost the entire country for concessions to transnational mining corporations. Under the new law the only lands excluded from mining concessions are areas, such as the Copán Maya Archeology Zone, that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


The new law permits open pit mining, the use of cyanide, the expropriation of lands for mines, and the destruction of entire communities located within mining concessions. It does not include protection of water sources, the right of communities to decide whether they want mines, nor access to information about the companies that receive mining concessions.


Due to increasing public concern about the impacts of mining, former president Manuel Zelaya suspended mining concessions in 2006. Shortly before he was ousted in a June 2009 military coup, Zelaya presented congress with a new mining bill that would have prohibited open pit mining, increased royalties, guaranteed communities the right to accept or reject mines in their territories, and forbidden the use of cyanide and mercury in mining processes.


A few months after the coup, Canadian Ambassador to Honduras Neil Reeder, promised de facto president Porfirio Lobo hundreds of millions in new investments if he would rescind Zelaya’s bill and the freeze on mining concessions. The Canadian International Development Agency then helped to finance the development of the new mining law approved by congress Wednesday.


Lima. Peru

January 26, 2013: Riot police in Northern Peru dispersed with tear gas and rubber bullets Monday some 500 campesinos protesting the Canadian Candente Copper mining company when they attempted to enter the company’s mine site. The farmers from Cañaris district in Ferreñafe province are opposed to Candente’s Cañariaco project that plans to extract 262 million pounds of copper a year from the region. The campesinos fear that once the mine is active it will pollute and deplete their water sources and affect their crops.

Candente, whose head office is at 400 Burrard Street in Vancouver, receives part of its investment funding from the Canadian Pension Plan.


Bogotá, Colombia

Feb. 16, 2013: The Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces, or FARC, and the National Liberation Army – ELN – freed yesterday seven prisoners the two rebels groups have held since January, the International Red Cruz reported. But a Canadian employee of a Toronto-based mining company remains in the hands of the rebels.

The first case took place in the southeast province of Cauca where the FARC turned over 2 police officers and a soldier captured in battles earlier this year.

A few hours after this operation, the Red Cross reported a second release of prisoners in the Caribbean province of Bolivar. In this case, the ELN released 3 Colombian and two Peruvian employees of the Canadian mining transnational Braeval, who had been captured near their mine site January 18. However, Canadian Jernoc Wobert, captured at the same time, was not released.


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