May 20, 2013
Catamarca mining conflict: Officials order protests be lifted
Officials at the head of the current tensions affecting the mining industry in Catamarca province, ordered that both pro-mining and anti-mining protest groups lift the roadblocks that were cutting off access to the town of Andalgalá.
Public prosecutors Martha Nieva and Roberto Mazzucco issued a warning to protestors giving them the period of two hours to evacuate the area in order for transport to access the town.
The demands made by officials mark the second evacuation order issued since yesterday and the pair threatened to send police down to clear the area if the demonstrators did not cooperate.
Last night and throughout Wednesday rallies were taking place across Andalgalá, with one in particular that involved some 2000 environmentalists, marching in protest against mining activity at the Alumbrera mine.
Roads across the town were being blocked off affecting lorry access to the mine, but also general traffic through-flow in Andalgalá, a town with a population of approximately 18,000 residents.
The protesters were also marching in remembrance of the clashes between activists and police in the region of El Algarrobo two years ago which provoked many arrests, left many injured and affected local business.
Nieva reiterated that what is to happen after the given time for the protesters to clear the route ways, should they not lift their protests, they were “yet to make a decision over how they wished to continue” in order to solve the issue, police sources said.
The current protests take place just one week after police clashed with protesters in Tinogasta, which resulted in many injuries and arrests.
On Tuesday, Kirchnerite Governor of Catamarca Lucía Corpacci blasted the conflicts and protests made saying that Andalgalá residents needed to be resolve the issues themselves. “This is a problem of Catamarca province and it must be solved by its people,” she stated.
Corpacci also made a point of stating that she was “concerned over the misinformation spread by certain national media outlets,” regarding the alleged use cyanide and the contamination of water in Catamarca.
Yesterday, Jujuy Governor Eduardo Fellner was present at the meeting led by Planning Minister Julio De Vido in which the Mining States Federal Organization (OFEMI) was created in order to coordinate and unify the rules set out for the sector, to be able to general environmental and social sustainability.