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A recent report of the Citizens Assemblies of La Rioja shows that 17 out of 18 departments in the province are affected by mining. 25% of the surface of La Rioja has been granted to mining activities. Only last year 72 mining licenses were granted in 14 departments.
It’s been over a year since the Famatina people have been confronting Canadian company Osisko Mining Corporation by blocking the road to mining vehicles by organizing in defense of Famatina hill.
In a semi-desert area, the mining Project would pollute the main source of water for the population.
Famatina people are aware of the pollution and misery caused by the mining industry. They have learned to resist amid repression, threats, persecution, black lists and the judicialization of the protest.
Friends of the Earth Argentina interviewed Martin, a member of the Assembly of La Rioja at the 19th Meeting of the Union of Citizen Assemblies, on the current situation of the struggle of the Famatina people. Since January of 2012 neighbors in defense of Famatina have been mobilizing by working with different regional assemblies to reject megamining.
He also said the struggle is intensifying and diversifying. It aims to add to the resistance legal actions and the search for collective solutions.
Unfortunately, other mining projects have begun in the region, such as the case of Reserva Provincial “Laguna Brava”, where the local government authorized works to 18 mining corporations in 48 extraction projects affecting 60% of the overall reserve area.
Laguna Brava was declared a Ramsar site in 2003. It has a great biodiversity associated with the wetland that hosts endangered bird species as well as endemic species. The area is in a highly seismic area, which represents a high risk of tectonic movement.
Juan Martin, a member of the Assembly of Laguna Brava, also described the current situation of the reserve: the government’s concealment of the exploration and exploitation taking place, the beginning of the struggle in defense of the environment and the necessary coordination with similar experiences in the region.
The younger population is supporting the struggle of their community with camps and other forms of mobilization, said Juan Martin.
La oposición a la minería debe entenderse como la lucha por los derechos que esa actividad no respeta, pues “cada derecho que se le otorga a una empresa, es un derecho que se le resta a una comunidad”, asegura el coordinador del Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), César Padilla.
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