TheMemorandum of understanding signed in April of last year by the Canadian transnational Barrick Gold with 15 Diaguita communities in the Huasco Valley was the focus of the debate that took place yesterday at thefifth session of the public private table held in the Alto del Carmen commune, in which in addition to representatives of the aforementioned actors, the Mayor of the Atacama Region participated, Miguel Vargas, the Governor of the Province of Huasco,Alexandra Nunez and agricultural entrepreneurs and community representatives from various localities in the sector.
As stated in the statement issued by theGuasco Alto Communications Assembly, the transnational was called to pronounce on the irregularities denounced by the communities in the framework of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.
Along these lines, alleging, among other irregularities, lack of transparency in the document and arguing that the agreement was only signed by a minimal part of the total number of diaguitas affected, the communities asked to annul the agreement, a decision that was supported by the councilors.Raúl Garrote and Cristian Olivares; “The inhabitants of the Huasco Valley filled the premises of the Alto del Carmen Cultural Center to demonstrate once again the need for the company to leave the territory and that harmful agreements such as the "Compensation Fund with the Huasco River Basin Oversight Board" and the new "Memorandum of Understanding with Diaguitas", requested that interventionism be stopped, which has caused so much damage to the social fabric and ecosystem of the Valley, ”the Assembly maintains.
The communiqué indicates that despite the efforts of business media such as El Mercurio to promote the meeting, "the result was completely the opposite"; “In a tailspin, indigenous and community leaders, agricultural entrepreneurs, and residents of the sector made the recurrent illegalities, arbitrariness and actions of bad faith that the company has promoted, and reiterated that Pascua Lama does not have a social license to operate, and is wrong with his Memorandum of Understanding strategy, paying some indigenous leaders to develop “independent” studies.
The Assembly denounces the role that Barrick has tried to play with the Memorandum - “the latest communicational, political and community strategy that sought, by signing a document massively disseminated by the media, to show that these new diaguitas and the company had reached an unprecedented agreement in the world that enabled the successful development of the Pascua Lama project "and maintains that" the inexcusable errors in form and substance of this document,It is just a new example of the perverse actions of the company and the infeasibility of the first binational project on the planet.”
Among the irregularities reported is “la failure to consult the bases when signing the document, the payment of large sums of money to indigenous leaders and lawyers, the concealment of the agreement and annexes to the community members themselves, and the violation of international rights of indigenous peoples such as free consultation , prior, informed and in good faith to all the indigenous people of the territory“.
They also denounce the creation of the figure of "Friendly Composer“, Embodied in Alonso Barros, who was paid by the mining company and became a guarantor, replacing the State in an inalienable role as stipulated by International Agreements.
“The deception of the institutionality goes even further, since the Memorandum expects to carry out studies already carried out by the Superintendency of the Environment, the General Directorate of Water, the Agricultural and Livestock Service and Sernageomin, based on the community complaints that keep the draft. The interveners denounced that offering new results in environmental matters, financed by the mining company, sows confusion and the weakening of the environmental institutions of the state of Chile and of the community role in the defense of rights. "
The Assembly denounces that Barrick would have tried todivide communities "Promoting rumors, disqualifications and competitions that without the mining company would not be present destroying the territorial identity".
“It is for this and other reasons, mostly expressed by the more than 150 residents who attended the meeting, where they insisted on the need to define the territory as agricultural and not mining,annul the Memorandum of Understanding, definitively close the Pascua Lama project, stop promoting corruption and stressing vulnerable communities to put a price on common heritage, such as water, glaciers and the colorful and priceless mountains of the valleys of the Atacama region. "
Barrick risks revocation of environmental permit
It should be recalled that Barrick is pending the result of the new sanctioning process that the Superintendency of the Environment must apply after the Supreme Court rejected on November 30 the appeal filed by the transnational Barrick Gold, thus ratifying the decision of theSecond Environmental Court to annul the previous process regarding the infractions carried out by the mining company to the RCA of the project, considering it insufficient and wrong.
The 23 breaches, which must now be sanctioned in isolation, should end in the revocation of the permit granted to the Canadian mining company, which our authorities recently favored again by giving the project the green light. Cerro Casale, just as aggressive as Pascua Lama, matured in his shadow.