jueves, 29 de julio de 2010

Protecting Cerro Chorcha…

Dominion Minerals Corp., the US mining company conducting illegal exploration activity on indigenous Ngóbe lands in Panama, maintains its arrogant attitude towards Panamanian legal processes and indigenous ngóbe rights.

Although the Panamanian Supreme Court declared the mining activity of Dominion Minerals illegal, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MICI) declared the area a mining reserve (thus forbidding exploration) – Pinchas "Pini" Althaus and Dominion Minerals stated in its June filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission that MICI “erroneously published” the resolution declaring the area a reserve.

But “untruths” coming from Dominion Minerals’ Park Avenue office is nothing new. Just read the laughable “letter to shareholders” released this time last year stating that “preparation is now complete and the drilling equipment is on site to begin the 2009 drilling campaign”. That was surprising news for the guard looking after the abandon Cerro Chorcha site when we bought him the letter a few days after its release.

It’s time for Dominion Minerals to stop the game up north and down here!

Indigenas Ngobes Rechazan Mineria

COMARCA NGÖBE-BUGLÉ. Grupos indígenas de la comarca Ngöbe-Buglé reiteraron su oposición al desarrollo de proyectos mineros en lo que ellos consideran sus tierras. Señalan que están dispuestos a llegar hasta las últimas consecuencias con tal de que se les respete su voluntad.

Fabio Pinzón, presidente del Comité Ambientalista de la comunidad de Soloy, en el distrito de Besiko, dice que se oponen al plan Minero de Chorcha, en Guariviara, distrito de Kankintú. ‘Nos preocupan estos proyectos mineros’, añade.

‘Este es un proyecto peligroso porque hay entre ocho y nueve ríos que nacen en ese lugar’, indicó. Adelantó también que próximamente realizarán una gira hacia dicho campamento minero, como una muestra de rechazo, aunque aclaró que la protesta será pacífica.

‘Esperamos que no se nos impida el acceso, porque estas son nuestras tierras’, manifestó.

Aseguran que la empresa que realiza las exploraciones mineras es Dominion Minerals, Corp.

A juicio de Pinzón, producto de estos trabajos ya se han dado algunas alteraciones al ecosistema, lo que ha traído como consecuencia el desbordamiento de algunos ríos.

‘Nos oponemos a esta iniciativa porque no se ha consultado a la comunidad’, sostuvo el dirigente, y agregó que se trata de proyectos ‘devastadores que destruyen la naturaleza y contaminan los ríos’.

(La Estrella, Raul Oscar Lopez, 21 de julio 2010)

domingo, 17 de enero de 2010

The Supreme Court in Panama orders immediate suspension of Cerro Chorcha Mining Concession – sighting a long list of illegal and unethical activity surrounding the granting of the concession and activity of the mining companies within the indigenous Ngöbe-Bugle Comarca and environmentally protected areas.

The following is an English translation of an article from January 7, 2009 by Yuriel Sagel PA-DIGITAL:

According to the decision of the Supreme Court of Justice, the company Cuprum Resources Corp. did not have an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Mining exploration in Panama is under the scrutiny of environmental groups.
The suspension of mining activity in five areas of the province of Chiriquí, was ordered by the Third Chamber of the Supreme Court, after considering ecological and social damage in the region.

The ruling, under the Judge Victor Benavides, suspends the effects of contract No. 006, February 16, 2006, between the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Cuprum Resources Corp. for the exploitation of metallic ores (copper, gold, others).

The activity covered five areas corresponding to the Ngobe Bugle Comarca, in Emplanada of Chorcha, Soloy and Boca de Balsa in the District of Besiko and Guariviara in the District of Kankintú.

The decision of the Court is based on the absence of citizen participation, possible environmental damage the population may suffer or is suffering and the nonexistence of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) approved by the National Environmental Authority (ANAM) authorizing the execution of the contract.

According to the ruling, any mining activity that takes place without complying with current legislation undermines the ecological values of the country and can cause serious effects, and even with irreversible damage.

The judicial authority performs the duty of the state for all the inhabitants of the nation, to foster social and economic development without violating the ecological balance and protecting indigenous peoples.

Eliseo Vargas, an indigenous leader said that the suspension of this project shoes an awakening of the government agencies, especially when it comes from the highest court of justice in the country. He maintained that the struggle of indigenous peoples has no color or political factions, but seeks to assert their rights over the territory and right to protect it.

The National Environmental Authority rejected last year the Environmental Impact Study, arguing that it was in protected areas and indigenous territory.
Moreover, inconsistent reporting of information did not establish what the management and disposal of wastewater would be, or the process to remedy spills.

The Allience for Conservation and Development reported that these issues have not prevented the mining companies involved from exploration in the area.

(NOTE: Although Cuprum recieved the concession in 2006, the US public company Dominion Minerals was the sole owner of the concession at the time of the Supreme Courts ruling)

sábado, 17 de octubre de 2009

Defiance Through Dance: Ngöbe and Naso Representatives Perform Cultural Rituals in Panama City

The following are photos of a Ngöbe and Naso cultural performance in Panama City on October 11. The event honored the rich identities of both communities, identities that are threatened by mining projects such as Dominion Minerals' Cerro Chorcha mine and hydroelectric projects like that of AES' Changuinola River development.

Forum on Indigenous Rights in Panama Condemns Mining, Hydroelectric, and Residential Tourism Ventures

Everyone pays attention when Yaritza Espinoza talks. Her small, wiry frame belies a strong, passionate voice when she speaks about the hundreds of mines, hydroelectric dams, and tourist resorts that are being planned for Panama's indigenous regions. Yaritza, a university student and a member of an environmental group called Voces Ecológicas (Ecological Voices), spoke to a over 100 indigenous activists, students, and supporters at the University of Panama on October 10. The diverse group listened attentively as Yaritza explained that this impending wave of projects will lead to a surge of internally-displaced people. Whole villages all over the country will be forced from their lands by mining activities, flooding from dams, and tourist development. These internal migrants, Yaritza warned, will affect the entire country as they attempt to find shelter and new employment. She closed her presentation by showing a map of all of the proposed mining concessions, and asked the audience if their homes were located near any of the small, colored boxes on the map. Many in the audience responded with anger and concern that yes, they lived close to these concessions. Yaritza explained that over 200,000 hectares have been granted for mining concessions, and, even more shocking, that 90% of Panama's waters have been concessioned for hydroelectric power.

Map courtesy of Centro de Incidencia Ambiental (www.ciampanama.org)

Yaritza was just one of nearly two dozen speakers at this forum on indigenous rights, convened by the Ngäbe Student Association at the University of Panama. The forum highlighted the concerns of Panama's indigenous communities about the wave of projects, including Dominion Minerals' Cerro Chorcha Mine, that threaten their lands and livelihoods.

martes, 6 de octubre de 2009

Marchers Arrive in Panama City

After walking 380 kilometers in 19 days, the marchers of the Indigenous, Campesino, and Popular Movement will finally arrive in Panama City today, bringing the voices of the people to the seat of power. Participants will be holding events in the capital all week long to call for an end to the environmental destruction that has been waged on their communities by the government and mining companies like Dominion Minerals.

Follow all the news on a new photo gallery: www.caminatapanama.org (in Spanish only)