No reprieve: For life and territory, COVID-19 and resistance to the mining pandemic

Protest against mining in Ecuador, in front of the Environmental Ministry of Environment During the pandemic, advanced exploration activities by Canadian companies threatened the Shuar Arutam indigenous territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon. (© PSHA)

May 24, 2022

A new report developed by the Coalition against the Mining Pandemic - Latin America unmasks the unbridled advance of mining during the pandemic. Communities and peoples in Latin America therefore could not let their guard down, even while taking measures to protect themselves from COVID-19.

The report, "No reprieve: For life and territory, COVID-19 and resistance to the mining pandemic", is based on case studies from nine Latin American countries - Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Chile and Argentina. It examines how governments and mining companies have taken advantage of the lengthy COVID-19 pandemic to position aggressive mining expansion as "essential" for economic revival and the energy transition. At the same time, it documents the responses and resilience of affected peoples under even more adverse conditions than before the pandemic, underscoring that mutual care, community organization, land, water and healthy food are what is truly essential.

The research highlights that the mining sector, especially metal mining, has experienced an economic boom, while communities and peoples are still suffering the consequences of multiple interrelated crises: socio-economic, health, environmental and violence. High mineral prices, threats to interrupt of supply chains requiring raw materials, the energy transition, in addition to extractivist policies and outsider colonialist logic that seeks to capitalize on any possible circumstance to further foreign interests, have served as an impetus for greater speculation and expansion of the sector in this period. Together, these processes have deepened repression, violence and social control over populations from governments and companies. 

Despite the numerous threats, the report concludes by looking at the significant resistance to the mining model that has persisted despite the context of violence and climate and ecological disaster. For communities and people on the front lines against mining, their experiences over these last two years have reinforced the importance of continuing to defend territory, clean water and air, and livelihoods. In short, it is not possible to "stay at home" when everything is at risk.

The Coalition Against the Mining Pandemic is a group of environmental justice organizations, networks and initiatives from North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America working in global solidarity with communities, Indigenous peoples and workers to respond to mining abuses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This report forms part of a global research collaboration, which includes case studies developed in partnership with communities and grassroots groups in 23 countries. In early June, the Coalition will publish reports based on parallel analyses in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America.

Rainforest Rescue has been part of the Coalition since February 2021, supporting the Latin American regional group and participating in the research work.

LINKS TO DOWNLOAD THE REPORT:

ENGLISH: https://bit.ly/3NuXhL1

SPANISH: https://bit.ly/38b6aKX

Aditional information and quotes:

See cases, quotes and relevant data from the report