May 2 - International day of action against Barrick Gold

by May 2, 2007
 

(I just wrote a post on nowpublic.com about this, and it turned out good enough that I thought I'd erase what was here, and put that in its place - Ahni)

International day of action against Barrick Gold

Yesterday over a dozen events were organized around the world, in protest against the World's largest Gold Mining company - Toronto-based Barrick Gold.

  • You can watch a two minute video (on youtube) about the outreach action at Barrick's shareholder meeting in Toronto.

Today, there is likely over a thousand conflicts around the world caused by the mining industry. Barrick alone, as prompted Indigenous People in:

Peru Peruvians protest Barrick in the Ancash region year after year with a regional 48 hour strike, supported by local politicians. The region is divided by Barrick's activities here and for the last two years, protesters have died in confrontations with the police during the strike. Barrick has reported employed many of these police.

Nevada Here the Western Shoshone are fighting Barrick's expansion into sacred lands, with a coordinated community organizing and legal strategy.

Tanzania Tanzania's Bulyanhulu and North Mara mines were built upon deaths, displacement and human rights abuses. While this happened while these mines were owned by other Canadian Mine Corporations, there have been recent alleged deaths by the hands of Barrick security guards.

Australia Since the early 1990s, the campaign to stop Barrick's gold mine at Lake Cowal in central western NSW, Australia has focused on the cultural and ecological significance of the area. Powerful direct actions, community education and legal action carried out by local Aboriginal leaders, indigenous and community activists has tied up and cast grave doubts on Barrick Gold's huge Lake Cowal project.

Chile From thousands of people marching through the streets of Vallenar, to the non-violent road blockadees, people have mobilized in Chile to oppose the Pascua Lama/Valedero project. The project endangers the natural and cultural balance of these valleys, as well as its water supply, affecting around 70,000 people in Chile and 24,000 in Argentina.

Argentina Argentinians are mobilized en masse against the Pascua Lama/Valedero project, as well as Barrick's exploration in Mount Famatina. In March of 2007, neighborhood groups in La Rioja organized and created the political will to kick out the corrupt regional Governor aligned with Barrick Gold, Angel Maza. An anti-open pit mining referendum awaits a vote in July 2007, while activists vow to continue to block mine roads until Barrick and the threat of open-pit mining are gone.

Papua New Guinea In Papua New Guinea, Barrick dumps toxic mine tailings directly into the river. Meanwhile, the original landowners complain of a lack of compensation and infrastructure development, and a lack of access to Barrick officals. There is also a large scale human rights crisis involving the death and injury of small scale miners near the mine site.

Philippines In the Spring of 2006, when Barrick Gold took over Placer Dome, Inc. it inherited a law suit initiated by provincial authorities on the Philippine island of Marinduque, where 27 years of irresponsible mining by Placer Dome (1969-1996) had caused immense damage to the island of Marinduque and its people. Rather than settle the case, compen-sating Marinduquenos for lost livelihood and funding efforts to rehabilitate the damaged eco-systems, Barrick is waging an expensive and lengthy legal battle to avoid responsibility.

New Mexico In New Mexico, communities battle Barrick subsidiary Homestake's legacy of Uranium contamination.

Russia In 2006, reports surfaced of mine workers in Russia being trapped in underground mine fires that are rife with environmental violations.

Commentary
Indigenous People everywhere are demanding that Barrick Gold and other businesses in the resource extraction industry be held accountable for their actions, and consult with the people effected by the mines - but not just so Barrick, for example, can say "thanks for the input! will take it into consideration" - and then change nothing. But in the sense that Barrick works with the People - fundamentally respecting the needs and requirements outlined by them - and then responsibly taking action that does not violate them, or urrertly disregard the People themselves.

It's strange, but this seems to be unthinkable. It's as if mining companies like Barrick are allowed to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences. But so long as they can get a nod from the local government who's likely getting some tasty treats from the Company - or in some cases, from the government of the company's originating country -well, then that's just ok. Who really cares if 40,000 people lose their homes, who really cares if some people are killed for standing up for what they know and love... who really cares? Just as long as some good money is made.

Ahh, Business ethics!

And so, with little resources of our own, we put together events like yesterday's international action, and firmly put our feet in the ground, setting up blockades and engaging in other non-violent acts - always making the line abundantly clear to those who would cross it.

  • Read the alternative annual report by Corpwatch, Barrick's Dirty secrets (pdf)
  • Or vist protestbarrick.net for more info about the international action, and background news in the above-mentioned regions.