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NEWS: Right to water demanded in protests against Barrick Gold in Peru

A poster for the February 2012 National March for Water in Peru, Lets be a river. National March for Water.

A poster for the February 2012 National March for Water in Peru, “Let’s be a river. National March for Water.”

BBC reports that protesters say Barrick Gold’s Pierina gold mine near Mareniyoc, Peru is causing a water shortage and are demanding that the Toronto-based mining company ensure nearby towns have clean drinking water. On Wednesday police moved in to clear protesters from a road they had blocked leading to the mine; police killed one person and injured at least four. The BBC highlights, “According to Peru’s human rights agency, there are more than 200 disputes over natural resources in Peru, many of them involving access to water and allegations of pollution by mining companies.”

In early-July, our Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero wrote about protests against the proposed Conga gold and copper mine that threatens the local water supply in northern Peru, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16062. In March, we highlighted Rick Arnold’s critique of a funding arrangement between the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Barrick Gold and World Vision in relation to the proposed open-pit Laguna Sur mine in Peru that farmers and rural dwellers say will pollute their water, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13936. And in February, with more than 20,000 people gathered in Plaza San Martin in Lima at the conclusion of the March for Water, this statement was read to those assembled, “The Council of Canadians stands with the more than 200 communities and civil society organizations in Peru who are demanding an end to mining injustice and calling for water to be recognized as a human right within the Peruvian constitution”, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=13554.

In her address to our ‘Shout Out Against Mining Injustice’ conference in Vancouver this past June, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow stated, “A study commissioned by the industry and leaked to the media said that Canadian mining companies are ‘far and away’ the worst human rights and environmental abusers of any country. And do they ever have a friend in Stephen Harper, who refuses to put any leash whatsoever on their practices. Canadian mining companies are notorious for refusing to cooperate in investigations in Latin America that involve violence against local anti-mining activists, knowing they face no penalty back in Canada at all.” Her speech can be read in full at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=15560.

Additionally, the Harper government has set as a priority joining the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade talks that currently include Peru, Chile, the United States, Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Mexico and Japan are also likely to join these talks. Barlow has also stated, “The Harper government is aggressively promoting trade agreements that give mining corporations the right to sue governments if their right to profit is limited by new environmental or human rights rules.”

The BBC article is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-19669760.