Chilling Footage as Police Randomly Open Fire Against Crowd Opposing Mining in Argentina
October 15, 2015 – La Rioja Argentina. Systematic repression against communities resisting mining occurs again in Argentina. Provincial police of the Argentine Province of La Rioja, in central Argentina, indiscriminately opened fire today against a crowd of local residents that included several provincial legislative representatives and a mayor-elect, that had marched peacefully to express their opposition to a mining project attempting to set up in their territory. The moment was captured on video by protestors who recorded live as police forces inexplicably started firing bullets at the crowd. You can hear the chilling voices of protesters calling on each other not to react and sit down during the aggression.
Five people were reported injured, including a Congressman, from rubber bullets fired randomly into the unarmed crowd. Others were affected by tear gas also disbursed amongst the local residents protesting against the MIDAIS mine. Among the injured was Julio Martinez, a congressional representative in the Provincial Legislature, who was shot in the ear with rubber bullets. Another legislative authority, Ines Brizuela also stood before police forces but was not shot. Paulo Dalessandro, a local business man with investments in the tourism sector was injured by police gunfire with a shot to his left thigh. An unidentified child was also reported injured in the incidents. The mayor-elect of nearby town Famatina, Ismael Bordagaray accompanied the crowd and was present as the inexplicable shooting unfolded. Famatina has been a hotbed of local opposition to mining operations, including that of Barrick Gold and Osisko Mining, both of which failed several years ago to gain local approval for a mining venture in glacier and periglacial areas of the Famatina Mountains about 15 miles from where incidents occurred today.
Bordagaray firmly opposes local mining operations because as he has stated to media, “the people simply don’t want mining up here and as a representative of the people we have to heed their opinion”. He has used reports by the Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA) showing mining risks to glaciers in the area in federal court cases demanding that glaciers and permafrost regions be protected from undue harm that can be brought on by the mass removal of topsoil for mining activity. A court order suspended Osisko’s intent to move forward with the controversial Famatina mining project once Barrick Gold gave up on the project and moved on.
This is not the first time there is repression in Argentina against peaceful communities opposed to mining and other largescale industrial projects with particularly significant impacts to sensitive ecological environments, including also in the oil and gas sector and with mega-sized pulp mills. Police forces have brutally repressed communities in Andalgala who oppose mining at Agua Rica (Yamana Gold), Filo Colorado (Xstrata), and La Alumbrera (Glencore Xstrata), in San Juan Province where communities have rejected Veladero and Pascua Lama (Barrick Gold), and in Neuquén province where indigenous communities have been physically repressed as they marched against the advancement of fracking operations in Patagonia. Local residents and environmentalists have also been attacked through judicial persecution due to their advocacy against mining, pulp mills and contaminating industries. CEDHA has been supporting each of these communities over the years to reveal environmental impacts of industrial operations and to protect the human rights of affected communities.
The Security Minister in charge of police operations and security in La Rioja, Claudio Saul, said in a press statement today that he justified the repression as “necessary to guarantee the rule of law”.
Video of the repression:
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