From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Of Murder, Mining and Mayhem

Canadians like to believe fictions about themselves, none more so than the one that says we are the white hats. A new report from the Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict puts that one to lie, at least as it pertains to the actions of our mining companies abroad. This report commissioned by the industry has been kept secret for obvious reasons.luckily the Toronto Star has obtained a copy and what little they released in their  article paints a picture of an industry that will at the very least turn a blind eye to torture kidnapping and murder. Not to mention the usual environmental destruction.

 Canadian mining companies are far and away the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world, according to a global study commissioned by an industry association but never made public.
“Canadian companies have been the most significant group involved in unfortunate incidents in the developing world,” the report obtained by the Toronto Star concludes.
“Canadian companies have played a much more major role than their peers from Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States” in these incidents, says the Canadian Centre for the Study of Resource Conflict, an independent, non-profit think tank.
The problems involving Canada’s mining and exploration corporations go far beyond workplace issues. “Canadian companies are more likely to be engaged in community conflict, environmental and unethical behaviour, and are less likely to be involved in incidents related to occupational concerns.”
 The study goes on to say that  “Of the 171 companies identified in incidents involving mining and exploration companies over the past 10 years, 34 per cent are Canadian,"

The Canadian mining industry is a dominant one internationally and as the study points out this number is in line with that dominance. It then goes on to make the following statement the first part of which I am in total agreement with. “this does not make the individual or corporate violations any more ethically acceptable, especially considering the efforts in recent years taken by industry and government to improve”

This article is sparse on details not listing any specific allegations or incidents.One nuggat of info is the listing of hot spots as they call them Of the incidents reported, gold, copper and coal mining were most often involved. The four “hot spot” countries with the most incidents were India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Regionally, however, Latin America had the most incidents, followed by sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Indonesia it should be noted is actively engaged in genocide against the people of resource rich West Papua

 In Honduras Canadian business interests lobbied the Harper government to recognize the new government that had seized power in a coup. Of course Harper was all too willing to oblige,making Canada one of the first nations to recognize the coup leaders  Millions in aid and a free trade deal were held out as carrots to induce the new regime to soften laws and regulations in order to make it easier for Canadian mining companies to pollute the land air and water.  .

Lets take a look at a couple specific incidents shall we.

Berna, We Will Always Remember You. You Fought for Us
 Oaxaca, Mexico: Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver's gold and silver mine project has been plagued by violence Police beatings, protesters jailed and murdered, while Fortuna hasn't been directly linked to any of the violence the community division and unrest is a graphic example of what the study called community conflict.
In the dry and dusty town of San José del Pacifico, south of Oaxaca, Mexico, a funeral was held on March 17 for Bernardo Vasquez, a slain community leader who actively opposed a Canadian silver and gold mining project in his community.  During the somber event, attended by roughly 300 members of this Zapotec community, the collective grief, solidarity and resistance was palpable.  Fear also hung in the air; some people held placards proclaiming their resistance in front of their faces to avoid being photographed.

Baby living in mine effected community
Goldcorp's Marlin Mine in San Marcos Guatemala This one is an old fashioned tale of environmental degradation and poisoned drinking water Two separate studies have found in their samples of both ground and surface water levels of contamination that renders the water unfit for human consumption
After 4 consecutive years of water monitoring and other investigations into the environmental hazards, the results indicate that the community inhabitants and other forms of life found in the area affected by the mine remain at high risk of pollution. This constitutes multiple human rights violations, including the right to a healthy environment and the right to water and food, amongst others.

 I've tried to be brief lest this becomes the longest blog post in history, the scope of Canadian involvement in violence and environmental crimes is that immense. If you're interested in reading more on this issue here are some links



 Amnesty International Petition: Canadian mining company could leave impoverished Indigenous community with multi-million dollar bill to pay An Appeal to Goldcorp's CEO and Board of Directors

MiningWatch Canada

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