Peñas Negras, La Rioja, Argentina 4/14/2009: Argentine government officials from the Secretary of Mining and Secretary of Environment, along with personnel from the Barrick Gold Corporation today attempted to ascend to the mining camp located in the reaches of the Famatina mountain range. Women from the Assembly, alerted to the intrusion, gathered at site of the road blockade they have carried out for two years in Peñas Negras, lowering the metal bar built to deny passage to the mining company.
The officials and Barrick employees – some twelve men – then bashed their trucks against the barrier, without success. Frustrated, the men proceeded to violently assault the handful of women who were peacefully seated on the road in front of the vehicles. They attacked the peaceful Assembly members with blows and fists, shoving and kicking the women.
When the women did not budge, the Barrick and government officials descended down the mountain to the Famatina police station, posing as victims, intending to file charges against the women.
Upon entering the police station, the aggressors encountered Famatina residents who had been alerted to what was taking place. The Barrick and government officials then continued to verbally assault the community members in an arrogant manner, self-assured of their impunity.
This attitude did not fall well upon the community: Practically the entire population of Famatina immediately turned out in force, and has gathered to surround the police station. As of this moment, the Barrick and mining officials are now “trapped” inside, afraid to exit the police station.
The most updated news that we have comes from a telephone communication at 11:50 in the night, on April 14, 2009:
• The aggressor officials are still inside the police station, protected by Famatina police officials, who have requested support from the Chilecito police.
• The Assembly members are filing charges against the men for the aggressions they have suffered.
• We have been informed that at least two of the women Assembly members were injured in the attacks. One of them was filming a documentary at the moment in Peñas Negras and was beaten. We do not know in detail the seriousness of the injuries suffered by the Assembly members.
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