Outrage in Chubut-Argentina over repression and the silence of political power

On the 16th of December, large-scale open-pit mining was made legal in Chubut, Argentina, thanks to the government. Thousands of people mobilized against the decision, the government building was set on fire in Rawson and police is detaining people just for walking on the streets: A scenario that needs internationalist solidarity.

Outrage in Chubut-Argentina over repression and the silence of political power

On 16.12.2021 14 legislators of Chubut approved the mining zoning that modifies law 5001 that prohibits open-pit and cyanide mega-mining. With this news, the mobilizations became more massive and the repression more bloody. While videos are circulating of Infantry, provincial police, and civilian police shooting from vans and entering shops to repress, people are reported missing, injured with rubber bullet impacts, beaten, gassed, and arrested. During this night the assembly members report a scenario of police violence worse than on Wednesday. In the face of this policy, Governor Mariano Arcioni did not attend to the press and there is little official information. A few hours ago, both the Superior Court of Justice and the Bank of Chubut announced that they had decided to suspend activities for Friday, December 17th in Rawson. (Full info: ANRed – https://www.anred.org/2021/12/17/conmocion-del-pueblo-de-rawson-por-la-represion-y-el-silencio-del-poder-politico/

Some keys to understanding the problem against Open-pit Mining

(Adaptation and translation of a text by Ramiro Torres)

•In most metal deposits of Argentina, the metal is not in the form of veins but dispersed in the rock.

In these cases, to separate the metal from the rock, huge areas have to be blown up with explosives, and the metal is later washed using large amounts of water and chemicals (cyanide, xanthate, among others).

A massive amount of water is consumed, and dams are created where the contaminated water is left for good. When these dams begin to leak or break, the water with poison reaches the underground layers of water or even rivers, contaminating what remains.

•This system is known as open-pit mining, and it is prohibited in practically the whole world. Countries of the «global north» do not allow it in their territories, so transnational companies seek to do it in countries like Argentina, through bribes and lobbying.

•Large-scale mining is an extractive activity: raw material is exported, generates very little employment, and leaves an eternal and unmanageable environmental liability (pollution). That is why it is prohibited everywhere.

•There is not a single case in the world of an area with a «mega-mining» project that has prospered economically: it is the equivalent of renting your house for coins and having it returned to you demolished.

•Mega-mining companies secure huge tax breaks, unrestricted access to water and diesel fuel at negligible cost. Water and fuel that is no longer available to others.

They pay export taxes according to what they themselves declare that they are exporting, with zero controls.

•Furthermore, only 3% of the extracted metals are used in technology, the rest is used in jewelry. This industry ruins entire provinces, ecosystems, and communities, to make rings and ingots to speculate.

•Chubut has only one river and it has been in drought for years (in summer there are water cuts every three days because the river is not enough to supply the demand). There are many towns in which the water has already dried up and water is brought to them in trucks. The water consumption of the mining companies is exorbitant and the possibility of contaminating what remains is enormous. That is why the areas affected by this activity are called «sacrifice zones»: after a short time, they must be abandoned.

•The current government of Chubut campaigned against mega-mining, and after winning, it took them less than a month to admit that it was a lie. They have no other interest than the bribes they have and are going to keep receiving.