16 de octubre de 2010

The Gold of Costa Rica: Hunger strikers demand halt to risky mining project


Costa Rica’s government pushes ahead with controversial gold mine project in spite of protests by Claudia Calvo

The media have kept a deafening silence over the hungerstrike that has been going on in Costa Rica since last Friday, right in front of the Presidential Offices.

A small group of protesters, including farmers, students and biologists, are trying by their hunger strike to sensitize the Government to the need to overturn the - highly illegal- decree of “Public Interest” granted to Infinito Gold (a mining transnational based in Canada) by the latest Arias administration. This authorized a previously banned project involving cyanide-based gold mining in Crucitas.

The Crucitas region is supposedly protected. It is a vital habitat for various endangered and slow reproducing species (Giant Ironwoods and Great Green Macaws, among others). It would also entail serious conflict with Nicaragua, since the border river, only 3 km away, belongs to THEM -as was recently agreed by The Hague.

The 2008 decree outraged the citizenship, especially coming from a Peace Nobel who, just days before, had “declared Peace to Nature”. The project has been paralized by a string of legal recourses, but we are now in the last one. The present -complicated- trial over the “evidence” `presented by the company, regulatory agencies and environmental bureaucraties of the previous government is turning out ever more irregularities -by the day- and is likely to last a long time still, and the government says they will not change anything -unless the trial decides in our favor. Yet the Public Interest decree was done to overturn a hard moratory set by the yet previous administration, since the original project -much more modest than the present one (15 meters deep -as opposed to 700) had been deemed unacceptable by citizens and regulators alike. Polls have shown that 90% of the population is against this mine. And the present administration did sign a decree banning all future mining… yet EXCLUDING Crucitas!

The local media -except elpais.cr, vocal but small opposition newswire- have not piped a word about it. Thus, even in Costa Rica, most people don’t even know that this small group of brave people of all ages… heve been fasting for a week! And this, even though several local artists have accompanied the movement since the start, in order to help attract. At the beginning, there was an absurdly huge police display, soon taken away by the Security Minister -the only official who has deigned notice their exisstence. There has not been a word from anyone else in the government. The oppposing candidate -beaten by little, Ottón Solís of the PAC is preseently out of the country, but has sent an open letter in solidarity, and urging the government not to ignore the calls of peace. Such letter has also been dutifully ignored by the media.

We are suspecting that such a silence means that the government will stubbornly ignore the issue -due to unextricable links between the two administrations- and we would just like that this suffering of most caring people… does not go unnoticed. And since Costa Rica is internatinnally known for its Peace and love of Nature, we would also like for everyone to know -THAT is the real feeling of our people… regardless of what our politicians have been making of our beloved country, these last years.

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