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Cry of the Andes Film Screening in Toronto (free)

January 10th, 2012

Journey to the heart of the Andes Mountains where ‘Pascua Lama’ is poised to become the world’s largest open pit mine. However, for the indigenous people and farmers living in the valley below, Pascua Lama threatens their only source of water in one of the driest places on earth. In a war between corporate and social values two men are leading a fight to defend their valley and way of life. Now, one election will ultimately determine the true price of gold.

Learn about the personal journey and political fight of the Diaguita peoples in defense of their territory as they travel to Toronto, the corporate headquarters of Barrick Gold a company infamous for human rights violations and threats to intellectual freedom.

2 locations to choose from:

Wednesday January 11th at 6:30pm in the Nat Taylor Cinema (Ross Building) at
York University

Thursday  January 12th at 7:30pm in the Palmerston Library Theatre
560 Palmerston Avenue


Over 70% of mining companies are based in Canada, operating abroad and on indigenous territory with little environmental and social regulation and political impunity.

hosted by Mining Injustice Solidarity Network

For the York campus screening FB page, please click here:

For the Palmerson Library screening, please click here:

Extended notes

The indigenous Diaguita community in the arid Atacama region of Chile has always opposed  Barrick Gold's Pascua Lama open pit gold and silver mine on their ancestral lands beside the border with Argentina. Now the Diaguita's only source of water is threatened as the government prepares to allocate rights to Barrick. The filmmakers follow community leader Sergio Campusano of the Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos as he seeks accountability from Barrick Gold in Toronto and from government officials in Alto del Carmen in Chile. The mining law is blamed by the Diaguita for allowing Barrick to deny access to their ancestral lands. The Diaguita complain that Barrick is doing exploration work in seven other areas of their land without permission, and pumping groundwater that would normally flow into the Huasco River.

Even though water was defined as a "national public good" in the 1981 Water Code,  it was also deemed a "market asset" and Chile gave away water rights for free to companies in the "productive" sectors: mainly multinational corporations engaged in mining, forestry, agricultural  exports, and hydroelectric development. Until now Rural Water Associations such as in Huasco have been protected by a separate law and their water has always been pristine. After large municipal water services were sold off in 1998, multinationals owned 83% of all water services. It's close to 100 % now due to further sell-offs in 2004.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan controls 4 of the 13 largest water service companies. Some farmers in the Huasco Valley are not happy that Barrick is trying to buy water usage rights from other farmers. Some farmers are thinking of leaving for areas near the coast.

Even from the 16th century the Spanish made no claims on the Diaguita lands. The Diaguita community remained intact as other indigenous communities were assimilated into Chilean society. In 1902 Indian lands were measured and in 1903 Estancia de los Huascoaltinos were given domain title to 381,000 hectares communally held ( less than in 1600). In 1997 land titles that had been double-registered from 1910 by other farmers and ranchers - regarded as illegal encroachments by the Diaguita - were made legal by the "Law of Agricultural
Communities". The Diaguita say they lost 140,000 hectares from this, and blame the government for not recognizing them as an indigenous people. In 1998 Barrick bought two ranches that had been double-registered in 1913 yet within Diaguita lands. They have closed the roads ever since and deny the Diaguita access to their grazing pastures. In 2005 the Diaguita declared their lands as a "Private Wilderness Protected Area". In 2008 they requested to CONAMA (National Environment Commission) that their lands be recognized under existing legal framework as qualifying for protection as "Huasco Private Nature
Reserve". CONAMA "refused to evaluate the project by declaring themselves incompetent".

Critics have asked for a new environment agency, a department qualified to do environmental impact studies, and an agency responsible for enforcing regulations.

The Diaguita are aware of the severe water shortages caused by mining in the almost desert-like Atacama and Antofagasta regions to the north. The nearest  large town of Copiapo, where the mining disaster happened two years ago, used to be supplied by three rivers, but two have dried up. People buy water from mining companies that build desalination plants on the coast. BHP Billiton is building one for their Escondida copper mine for $4.3 billion. Water is used by the Collahuasi mine to pump iron ore slurry via 8 inch pipe 203 km. The largest power plant in South America is being built between Alto del
Carmen and Copiapo: the coal-fired Hacienda Castilla 2354MW, $4.4B plus $300M for a port.

In Feb. 2010 a complaint (filed in 2005) against Chile by Diaguita Agricultural Community Los Huascoaltinos was deemed admissible by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Thus, this international body recognizes that the Chilean state committed alleged violations of rights enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights when Chile approved Barrick Gold’s Pascua Lama mining project. The testimonies began Oct. 2011.

In Nov. 2011 a coalition of NGO's in Chile presented a report to Barrick investors US EXIM Bank and EDC of Canada that declares Pascua Lama is in direct violation of the Equator Principles, which are global norms laying out conditions for responsible investment.


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