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UPDATE: Will Bolivia’s new law defend Mother Earth from mining?

On October 15, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales signed a new Law of Mother Earth and Integral Development for Living Well.

The law 1) extends Bolivia’s agrarian reform program, 2) creates a Defender of Mother Earth office to hear public complaints, 3) establishes a Climate Justice Fund to oversee remediation of lands impacted by the climate crisis, and 4) tightens Bolivia’s ban on genetically modified seeds, entirely prohibiting GMO seeds.

But it has been reported that, “While Morales speaks of the ‘rights of Mother Earth’ … his Vice President Álvaro García Linera (spoke) of ‘Andean capitalism’ and the need for an ‘industrial leap’. In comments after the signing of the (law), he emphasized that it should not slow industrial development and resource exploitation… (He said), ‘If we have to produce, we have to produce; if we have to extract some mineral, we have to extract it, but finding an equilibrium between the satisfaction of needs and protecting the Mother Earth.'”

Elizabeth Peredo, director of Fundación Solón, commented earlier this month, “Our country has become a supplier of raw materials: minerals and unprocessed food for the world… I do not think that governments have the ability to set more sustainable policies to care for Mother Earth, despite the rhetoric that adorns the constitutions and legal frameworks.”

And Mining.com comments, “The ‘Law of Mother Earth’ … redefines the South American nation’s mineral deposits as ‘blessings’ and is supposed to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry. One of the sectors to be largely affected is mining, which not only is Bolivia’s second biggest industry, but it injects $500 million a year into the economy. This represents nearly one third of the country’s foreign currency. …So what will all these mean for mining companies operating or with projects in the Andean nation? According to Matatea Changuy and Sophie Beier, from Pulsamérica.co.uk, the first obvious implication is that Evo Morales’ government is now legally bound to prioritize the wellbeing of its citizens and the environment. Thus, measures compromising mining activities in the country may be taken in any moment alleging compliance with the new regulations outlined in the Mother Earth’s law.”

Just a few days ago, we highlighted in a campaign blog that, “A Vancouver-based mining company is attempting to use an investment treaty to claim compensation from Bolivia for revoking its concession to mine for silver and indium (a metal used in flat-screen LCD televisions), an extractive process that would use and pollute scarce supplies of drinking water.”

The campaign blog is at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=17578. The articles referenced above are at http://www.ww4report.com/node/11643, http://www.mining.com/new-bolivian-law-poises-serious-challenges-for-mining-companies-34199/ and http://upsidedownworld.org/main/bolivia-archives-31/3901-mining-conflicts-and-the-politics-of-post-nationalization-bolivia.