International solidarity for Bolivian mine protesters

April 22, 2010

This morning, a banner reading “the world is watching” greeted staff arriving at the London offices of the Sumitomo Corporation. The impromtu intervention by activists from Camp for Climate Action was an act of solidarity with Bolivians occupying mine offices and rail tracks this week.

The protest is against the San Cristobal mine, which is owned by Sumitomo Corporation. It has been in operation for more than three years in the Andean region near the Salar de Uyuni in the town of Avaroa, but for the past week and a half, it has been largely shut down by the protesters.

With blockades, marches and office take-overs of the San Cristobal mine, the communities are demanding that the silver and lead mine replenish the water expended by the extraction processes of an open pit mine and that it be taxed. Six hundred litres of water every second are extracted by the mine. They are also demanding the completion of projects that were promised by the mining companies when they began operations, such as electrification and improved road infrastructure, with emphasis on water issues.

The Morales government has not yet taken action against the protests (in fact the Foreign Minister had actually been quoted criticising the company). However, there are fears that repression may begin once media attention on the climate conference hosted by Bolivia has died down. For this reason internationals plan to join protests on the ground and others have acted in solidarity not only to show the company that they risk direct action against their interests around the world, but also ensure that the Bolivian government is aware that there is a great interest in how they respond to the issue.

Source: Infoshop News

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