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They shot a man in Rio Blanco, just to watch him die

19 October 2009

Any wonder why so many communities around Latin America really don’t want foreign mining companies around?


In a case that will highlight growing tensions between powerful mining interests in Peru and alliances of poor subsistence farmers and environmentalists, the high court in London is to hear harrowing accounts of people held for three days at the remote mine near the border with Ecuador.

When the protesters marched to the mine they found armed police waiting for them. They say the police were being directed by the mine’s managers – although its owner, Monterrico Metals, disputes this. After firing teargas at the protesters, the police detained 28 people and bound their hands behind their backs.

The detainees say noxious substances were sprayed in their faces before they were hooded, beaten with sticks and whipped. Two of the protesters were women who say they were sexually assaulted and threatened with rape.

A further three protesters were shot and wounded by police, and while there is no suggestion the mining company was responsible for this, the protesters claim one of those shot was left to bleed to death at the mine site. A postmortem examination found that he took about 36 hours to die.

Although Monterrico says it had no control over the police operation, lawyers for the protesters have taken statements from eyewitnesses alleging that the mine’s manager was directing the police…

On Friday Richard Meeran, a solicitor with Leigh Day, the London law firm bringing the high court case, obtained a freezing injunction which obliges the company to keep at least £5m of its assets in the UK.

(full article by Ian Cobain in The Guardian, U.K.)



GUATEMALA CITY — Tens of thousands of indigenous people took to the streets across Latin America to protest the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s 1492 discovery of the Americas.

Columbus Day is celebrated as the Day of Hispanic Heritage in Latin America, but protesters marked the holiday on Monday as a reminder of the atrocities Spanish conquistadors wrought on indigenous people throughout the region.

In Guatemala City, 19-year-old demonstrator Imer Boror was killed and two were wounded as Maya Indians blocked entry points into the capital to protest their government’s mining policies.

Protesters were marching on what they called the Day of Dignity and Resistance of the Indian People, protest leader Juana Mulul told AFP, saying the movement “is purely in defense of Mother Earth and our territory.”

Aparicio Perez of the Farmers Union Committee (CUC) said representatives would ask the government to annul mining, hydroelectric and cement concessions because “multinational companies are taking over natural resources, which have long been the source of life for rural families.”


(The Dominion, via

CHICOMUSELO, MEXICO—On August 17, 2009, masked men carrying high caliber rifles forced anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca, 52, into an unmarked car as he was leaving the primary school in his hometown of Chicomuselo, Chiapas.

Held without contact to his family, it was feared he had been kidnapped. But although the detention had all the hallmarks of a kidnapping, it turned out to be a state sanctioned arrest.

For the next eight days Abarca, a father of four, was held on charges that included “criminal association and organized criminal activity.” The detention was based on accusations made by Mexican employees of Calgary-based mining company Blackfire Exploration Ltd, and supported by vice-president Brad Willis’ statement to police.

Blackfire has been operating a barite mine in the town of Grecia, in the municipality of Chicomuselo, for approximately two years. In Mexico, Blackfire operates through its subsidiary Blackfire Exploration Mexico S de RL de CV.

(entire article by Dominique Jarry-Shore here)

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