Pascua Lama mining project
Communities who oppose the project:
Communities seek to block U.S. Government financing for Pascua Lama
OLCA Communications, 13/05/2010
Diverse Chilean and U.S. organizations are calling on the U.S. Ex-Im Bank to deny financing for the Pascua Lama project. These groups explain that Barrick Gold’s operations in Chile undermine regulatory institutions, promote corruption, ride roughshod over human rights and have caused irreversible damage to glaciers.
On May 11, these organizations expressed their concerns in a letter to Fred P. Hochberg, president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Ex-Im Bank is the official export credit agency of the U.S. The letter urges the agency to refrain from supporting the environmental and social catastrophe that the Canadian multinational has produced in the third region.
The initiative was undertaken after networks in Canada and the United States disseminated information about the request that was received by this public institution. The bank’s mission is to provide financial support for the overseas operations of U.S. businesses when private financial institutions, whether for financial or political reasons, are unwilling to provide such support.
Faced with an abundance of corporate communications and publicity regarding the project, the civil society organizations decided to articulate their perspective, backed with solid arguments. These organizations seek to ensure that the U.S. agency, which manages public resources and is overseen by the U.S. Congress, operates in a manner that is consistent with its stated principles.
Lucio Cuenca, who was involved in the preparation of the letter, emphasizes that Ex-Im must take into account a company’s past behavior when it receives an application for financing. “Only then will U.S. citizens have the information they need to monitor the agency, to ensure that it operates correctly.” Cuenca also asserts that “through experience we know that these struggles are won when communities are active and are aware of what’s happening around them – however, we also understand that after 10 years of resistance, it’s important to extend the pressure towards other corners of the planet. As demonstrated when the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights admitted a complaint concerning Pascua Lama against the Chilean state for “denial of justice” (which is currently in course), it’s easier to be heard by institutions outside the country than those within.”
The letter identifies, among other problems, the promotion of corruption during project evaluation; severe damage to glaciers caused by the company despite the prohibition of such impacts in the project permit; diverse mechanisms employed by the company to undermine environmental legislation; the systematic violation of human rights in the project area; and the initiation of a sanctioning process against Barrick, following the first government inspection of the project.
For now, the organizations await the response of the U.S. agency and continue to strengthen linkages that allow them to expose the strategies employed by the company to bring about its discredited, bi-national project.
May 12, 2010
Lucio Cuenca (Spanish)
Tel: 56 - 2- 274 57 13
Tel: (+1-613) 789-4447
Tel: (+1-202) 465-1650
Full version of the letter: to_export_import_bank.pdf
Copia de la carta en español: carta_banco_exim.pdf