When Canadian mining companies arrived in the province of Chubut, Argentina in 2002 they were met with fierce resistance – 82% of the population of the province voted to say “No” to mining in a referendum, which banned open-pit mining methods. Since then, mining companies have been pressuring legislators to overturn the law.
At the end of 2021 they were successful: in a back-alley move, the provincial legislature with pressure from the mining lobby approved a ‘Mining Activity Zoning Law’ which would allow mining on lands inhabited by the Mapuche-Tehuelche peoples.
But, the industry could not overcome the wave of widespread opposition and after six consecutive days of massive protests and roadblocks across Argentina’s Chubut province - and brutal police repression of the movement - the provincial governor repealed the industry-imposed law.
The company that would profit the most from the passing of the law is Canadian-based Pan American Silver (PAS) - they’ve been trying to overturn it since they bought the Navidad project in 2009. This isn’t the company’s first instance of intervening in Latin American political processes.
PAS’ biggest meeting of the year takes place in early May and we want to deliver a massive petition with tens of thousands of SumOfUs members' signatures to show solidarity with local Guatemalan and Argentine impacted communities.
Will you sign the petition calling on PAS to listen to the local communities and abandon its activities in Chubut?
It’s clear that PAS has no regard for Indigenous Peoples rights – it’s founder says that the Navidad mine “is in the middle of a kind of windswept, no-man’s land in southern Argentina….There was no biodiversity loss, no environmental issues at all, no people, no nothing…” That’s true colonialist speaking – he is staking claim to the land of the traditional Mapuche Tehuelche peoples, refusing to even acknowledge their existence.
We know if we come together, we can stop Pan American mining operations in Latin America. In 2017, the Guatemalan courts recognized that the Guatemalan government discriminated against the Xinka and failed to consult them in the operation in a mine that PAS now owns. The mine is still suspended after years of fierce resistance from Xinka people.
SumOfUs members in Canada and Guatemala have been fighting PAS since 2019 – now as we approach the biggest day of the year, we need you to join the fight to make sure that it never builds a mine in Argentina.
Sign the petition calling on PAS and the Governments of Argentina and Guatemala to respect the self-determination of local communities.
Telesur. 21 December 2021.
Inequality.org. 6 May 2021.