control of water
Hundreds of campesinos on March 1 established an encampment and began building a large shelter on the shores of Laguna Azul, within the lease area of the Conga mining project, pledging to block any attempt by the Yanacocha company to bring in equipment. At nightfall, the campesinos from the provinces of Bambamarca, Celendín and Cajamarca, are holding an assembly as some 300 National Police have surrounded them. Edy Benavides, a leader of the camp and president of the Defense Front of Hualgayoc (a municipal district in Bambamarca), accused Yanacocha of lying to the people of the region in its claim to have "suspended" the Conga project. Other leaders of the encampment are Milton Sánchez, president of the Interinstitutional Platform of Celendín, and Marco Arana, leader of the political movement Tierra y Libertad. (La Republica, RPP, March 1)
The Sultanate of Sulu, an autonomous kingdom within the Philippines, claimed March 1 that 10 members of the royal army were killed and four more injured in an attack by Malaysian authorities on Lahad Datu, the village seized by the Sulu partisans in Sabah state on Borneo. Malaysian authorities deny any reports of violence. Sultanate spokesman Abraham Idjirani told reporters in Manila that he was informed of the attack by Raj Muda Agbimuddin Kiram, who is leading the royal army partisans at Lahad Datu. Kiram is the brother of Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III. Idjirani said Malaysian officials are seeking "to cover up the truth." (Philippine Star, Reuters via Malaysia Chronicle, March 1)
Ecuador's President Rafael Correa on Feb. 18 claimed an overwhelming re-election victory. Reuters perhaps inadvertently noted the contradiction in Correa's program, stating that his sweep at the polls "allows him to deepen his socialist revolution even as he seeks to woo foreign investment in the resource-wealthy Andean nation." Correa in his statements implied he is prepared to pick up the torch of Venezuela's ailing Hugo Chávez, Latin America's leading anti-imperialist head of state, who sent a statement of congratulations. "We will be present wherever we can be useful, wherever we can best serve our fellow citizens and our Latin American brothers," Correa told supporters who massed in front of the presidential palace in Quito, waving the green banners of his ruling Alianza Pais.
In a Feb. 13 press conference in Peru's northern city of Cajamarca, leaders of the regional Unitary Struggle Command, joined by congressional deputy Jorge Rimarachín, announced a new cross-country march on the alpine lagunas threatened by the Conga gold-mining project. Leaders said the march, to begin at month's end from local campesino communities, would culminate a few days later in an occupation of area around the lakes to secure them against any move by the Yanacocha mining company. (Celendin Libre, Feb. 23) That same day, Yanacocha issued a statement rejecting plans by impacted communities to hold a consulta or referendum on the project. Yanacocha spokesman Javier Velarde said: "If we are going to accept conultas every time there is a project that wants to be developed, and if the consultas are on the margin of the law, without the participation of the authorities, we will be placing in danger all the mineral industry at the national level." (Celendin Libre, Feb. 23)
The Israeli firm SodaStream made a splash earlier this month when its ad was bounced from the Super Bowl—alas, for the wrong reason. CBS deemed that the content of its planned commercial was a direct swipe at two other Super Bowl sponsors, Coke and Pepsi, Advertising Age noted. SodaStream bills itself as environmentally correct, selling machines that carbonate water at home and obviate the need for soda bottles, under the corporate slogan "Set the Bubbles Free." We wish CBS had been more concerned with the boycott that has been called of SodaStream, a firm illegally operating on the occupied West Bank.
Edén Pastora, the Nicaraguan government official responsible for the dredging project on the Río San Juan—seen as a step towards a Nicaraguan inter-oceanic canal— confirmed to local media Feb. 6 that Managua has asked the International Court of Justice at The Hague for navigation rights on the Río Colorado, located entirely within Costa Rican territory. "This government of Daniel Ortega...applies the logic of 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander,'" he told Managua's Channel 15 TV. "if [Costa Rica] can navigate our waters, why can't we travel the waters of the Río Colorado, if 90% of its water is from the Río San Juan?" This is a reference to the fact that the Colorado is a branch of the San Juan, which is claimed in its entirety by Nicaragua—despite a pending case at The Hague over disputed islands.
Peru's Yanacocha mining company—that seeking to develop the controversial Conga project in Cajamarca region—is appealing a ruling of the National Water Authority (ANA) barring expansion of its existing mine into new lands within its concession area. The lands, at a place called La Quinua Sur, lie within the headwaters of the Río Grande, which supplies water to the city of Cajamarca. Technically, the expansion, dubbed Yanacocha Oeste, was approved late last year by the Ministry of Energy and Mining (MINEM), but ANA denied approval to discharge effluent into local waterways that drain into the river. This effectively bars plans to develop a new open-pit mine at Quinua Sur.
Some 500 members of the Munduruku indingenous group held a grand assembly Jan. 29 to Feb. 1 at the villahe of Jacareacanga, Pará state, in the Brazilian Amazon, where they denounced the Bacia Tapajós development project slated for their territory. The scheme calls for a complex of five hydroelectric dams on the Rio Tapajós, with the first slated for Teles Pires. Read the statement from the meeting: "We are not against the development of the country, but we will not accept having our lives destroyed in the name of a type of progress that will only benefit the great entrepreneurs who will be increasingly rich."