ARGENTINA - Persistent struggle against ore mining in Chubut

Again there were big protests in Argentina against the planned mining projects in the southern province of Chubut. Thousands of peoples gathered on the 4th of February in various cities and provinces to stand against big mining projects, which would displace the indigenous people, as well as the mining projects are a big threat for water access of the people.

In the city of Trelew in Chubut, demonstrators blocked a central access road, and protests also came up in Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, San Luis and Paraná. The reason was the announcement by the provinicial government that it would vote in an extraordinary meeting on a new law, which would make ore mining possible in the first place. Some members of parliament even wanted to postpone the vote, because of the “social unrest”, because this year the election of the national senators takes place in Chubut. The new law would be the amendment of a former law, which has been in force since 2003 and prohibits open-air mining and the use of cyanide in the province. The change in the law would primarily affect ore mining.

The first resistance of the people was in 2002, when a big mining project was planned just six kilometers from the city of Esquel. Cyanide should be used to extract gold, which is an extremely toxic solution. After huge and persistent struggle the law which forbids using Cyanid was implemented. Since then, the mining companies put a lot of pressure to change the law to make gold and silver mining possible. For more than 18 years there has been resistance against similar projects. In 2003, 82 percent of the population in Chubut voted against mining in a referendum. The last struggle over this law broke out in December 2020.

In 2019, President Fernández of the alliance “Frente de Todos” described mining as a “priority issue” for the country’s economy. He said, addressing the imperialist companies: "We can now mine gold and silver in the Chubut plateau. That is where our wealth is, and we should open ourselves to the world with intelligence.” The most developed mining project now is called “Navidad” and belongs to the Canadian Pan American Silver and it is considered to be the largest undeveloped silver deposit in the world.

As well the mining projects are a threat to the indigenous people. Various indigenous organizations signed a statement against the mining projects. That statement says: “The governor of Chubut, Mariano Arcioni, is attempting to impose large scale mining projects on the people of Chubut province. Pan American Silver, a multinational corporation and the main lobbyist for the project, is interested in the deposits found in the north of the plateau. This territory is occupied by Mapuche and Tehuelche Communities who make use of a large part of the water basin, which would be directly affected by mining activity.“

The long and persistant struggle shows, that it ist the struggle of the people, the development of class struggle, which can oppose the exploitive plans of the imperialists and their servants in Argentina. The resistance against mining with Cyanid brought heavy struggles from the peoples in a lot of countries. For example in Romania the struggle in 2012/2013 against the Canadian company „Rosia Montana Gold Corporation“ brought the largest people‘s protests and upswing of workers movement in the last decade. The local govenments, by the changing of laws for toxic mining, are only serving the imperialists interests and not, as they say, the national economy and creates jobs. Those servants of the imperialists are destroying more and more the national economy, installing a „bureaucratic“ capitalism, which is fully controled and dependend by the imperialists. Further more it risks the lifes and the health of the people, by using Cyanid, which alread in Romania brought thousands of disabled born children. The peristant struggle, the firm stance against imperialism and their servants and the revolutionary organization of the people will bring success to the people‘s demands!