SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic – Dozens of people marched Thursday in this northern Dominican city against Canadian miner Barrick Gold, which is developing the massive Pueblo Viejo gold mine in the Caribbean nation.
Holding up signs and chanting slogans, the demonstrators walked along several streets in Santiago, the country’s second-largest city, and called on the government to expel the company and nationalize the mine.
Rifle-toting police kept a close eye on the demonstrators, although no major incidents were reported.
One of the organizers of the demonstration, the Broad Front for Popular Struggle’s Victor Breton, said the mining company “has mocked the Dominican people.”
The protest comes at a time when political parties and civil society are putting increasing pressure on President Danilo Medina’s administration to renegotiate Barrick Gold’s contract.
Pueblo Viejo, one of the world’s largest gold mines, is 60 percent owned by Barrick, while another Canadian miner, Goldcorp, holds the remaining 40 percent stake.
During his first state of the nation address to the National Assembly in February, Medina said the price of an ounce of gold has risen six-fold since the contract to develop Pueblo Viejo was signed with the Placer Dome company, which Barrick acquired in 2006.
Medina also said a government commission had met on “dozens” of occasions with Barrick representatives, but without “convincing the company of the need and urgency of correcting the current revenue-sharing scheme.”