Massive mining protests spread in Argentina
Tue Jan 24, 2012 5:47AM
Constanza Heller, Press TV, Buenos Aires
Argentinians are rising against mining operations in the Northwestern province of La Rioja where 2000 people find themselves resisting Canadian Osisko mining corporation's open-pit gold project in the town of Famatina.
While demonstrations spread across the country, union representatives, social and political organizations gathered at the Obelisk -Argentina´s national monument- in Buenos Aires.
Banging saucepans in sign of protest and chanting “Water is not for sale”, they claimed mining activities would deplete scant water resources in an already dry region and seriously damage the environment and called authorities to stop the plans of “killing corporations” as they describe them.
According to social and political activists, modern mining methods are against sustainable and responsible development and could not be carried out without the “complicity” between political authorities and multinational corporations.
This is not the first time mining activities have lead to social protests in Argentina. Five years ago, demonstrations forced Canadian world´s top bullion producer Barrick Gold to say goodbye to its projects also in the province of La Rioja.
However, mining giants continue to benefit themselves from Argentina's legislation. In 2008, President Cristina Fernandez vetoed a law that aimed to protect the country's glaciers. Geologists and environmental experts repudiated the decision by stating mines activities that take place in mountain glacial regions negatively impact on one Argentina's most important stores of water.
As the conflict intensifies, national Secretary of Environment has questioned the protests and said that the mining activity “is not a demon”. Canadian Osisko has not issued any official statement but demonstrators have already warned they will not back down until their demands are met.