Canadian Prime Minister's Controversial visit to Santiago: Time for Barrick Gold, but not for communities
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is visiting Chile to mark the tenth anniversary of the Free Trade Agreement between the two nations.
Representatives from Chilean civil society asked the Canadian embassy in Chile to facilitate a visit between the Prime Minister and communities affected by Canadian mining companies. Their request has been denied.
According to Joan Kuyek, National Coordinator of MiningWatch Canada, "Stephen Harper is showing the citizens of the Americas that he has a biased, corporate agenda. His stop in Santiago includes a meeting with Barrick Gold, but not with the citizens who are affected by Barrick's operations."
The lack of concern on the part of the Prime Minister about the negative effects caused by Canadian mining investments is especially disheartening given that the recent Roundtable process undertaken by the Canadian government led to an unprecedented agreement by Canadian civil society and industry that government support should be withheld from companies that do not respect international social, environmental and
human rights principles. A few short weeks ago, on the occasion of the G8 Summit, Prime Minister Harper stressed the importance of the Roundtable process and its findings.
Lucio Cuenca, from the Latin American Observatory on Environmental Conflicts (OCLA) states that: "It is inappropriate that the Prime Minister meet with and give his support to the company at a time when the Chilean Congress is considering whether to investigate suspected irregularities in the Pascua Lama Project, the State Defence Council of Chile is contemplating suing Barrick for the destruction of glaciers, and a complaint regarding the project that was submitted before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is pending."
We demand that the Canadian government cease promoting and supporting Canadian companies under such circumstances.
For more information, go to: www.miningwatch.ca or www.olca.cl/oca/index.htm