Ex secretaria argentina denuncia amenazas de las mineras en el Parlamento canadiense
EFE, 2009/11/25 01:43
Toronto (Canadá), 24 nov (EFE).- La ex secretaria de Ambiente argentina Romina Picolotti testificó hoy ante una comisión parlamentaria canadiense que recibió amenazas contra ella y sus hijos por parte de compañías mineras extranjeras cuando intentó endurecer los requisitos medioambientales del sector, informó la prensa local.
Según la edición digital del periódico The Toronto Star, Picolotti testificó a través de videoconferencia ante el comité de Asuntos Exteriores de la Cámara de los Comunes del Parlamento canadiense, como parte de los debates del proyecto de ley, con el que Ottawa busca ejercer un mayor control sobre las multinacionales canadienses que poseen minas en países en desarrollo.
Durante su declaración, la ex secretaria argentina, que ocupó el cargo de 2006 a 2008, dijo:“yo y mi personal más cercano fuimos amenazados personal y físicamente tras nuestra intervención minero. Mis hijos fueron amenazados”.
Picolotti destacó que las empresas mineras fueron, de todos los sectores interesados, las que más se opusieron al endurecimiento de las normas medioambientales.
“Descubrí una y otra vez que los intereses mineros extranjeros en Argentina eran extremadamente adeptos a promover sus intereses con las instituciones políticas locales, muchas veces invitando a funcionarios y ministros a obtener lo que querían en asuntos sociales y medioambientales sensibles”, afirmó.
La ex funcionaria añadió que en su caso la presión se tradujo en dificultades para implementar las reformas medioambientales y finalmente en su dimisión.
De aprobarse el proyecto de ley, presentado por el diputado liberal John McKay, las empresas mineras canadienses que no respeten en el extranjero normas internacionales de derechos humanos y medioambientales serían penalizadas.
Canadá cuenta con una de los sectores mineros más activos del mundo y las empresas canadienses constituyen los principales inversores del sector en muchas naciones latinoamericanas.
Organizaciones no gubernamentales, como Rights Action, han denunciado en numerosas ocasiones que compañías mineras canadienses favorecen las violaciones de derechos humanos en el extranjero, especialmente en países en desarrollo.
Nota en medios canadienses enviada por Marcelo Giraud
Buenos días, estimad@s!
Para quienes lean inglés, aquí van las notas originales del Toronto Star (el mayor periódico canadiense), una de ayer, otra de hoy donde Picolotti involucra directamente a Barrick. Y más abajo, la nota de EFE en español reproducida por Euronews.
Cordial saludo! - Marcelo
http://www.thestar. com/printarticle /730104 y http://www.thestar. com/news/ canada/article/ 730104--mining- companies- threatened- me-ex-argentine- minister
Mining companies threatened me: Ex-Argentine minister
November 24, 2009
OTTAWA–A former Argentine environment minister told Members of Parliament today that she had been personally threatened and rendered ineffective as a result of the aggressive activities of foreign mining companies who objected to the government's efforts to clean up mining operations in that country.
Testifying by video hook-up at hearings of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, Romina Picolotti said foreign mining companies stood out from other business sectors in their resistance to Argentina's bid to tighten up control over the environmental consequences of large-scale mining projects.
"I found, over and over again, that foreign mining interests in Argentina were extremely adept at leveraging their interests within the local political institutions, many times co-opting government officials and ministries to get their way on sensitive environmental and social issues that typically arise from large-scale mining investments, " she said.
Picolotti, now president of the Centre for Human Rights and Environment in her country, was environment minister in Argentina from 2006-08.
While other business sectors understood the need to respect environmental and human rights standards, she testified, the mining sector was different.
"They were more stand-offish, more resistant, more aggressive and more dangerous," Picolotti told MPs. "I and my closest staff were personally and physically threatened following our mining intervention. My children were threatened."
As a result of threats and political pressure, her efforts to tighten up environmental standards at mines in Argentina were undercut and she was forced to resign, she said.
Canadian mining companies working abroad have consistently rejected such accusations, saying they operate in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations and adhere to high standards of ethical behaviour. Mining representatives say the companies view corporate social responsibility and environmental stewardship as fundamental to their business operations overseas and have made extensive efforts to uphold those standards.
Picolotti was testifying at Commons committee hearings into a private members' bill intended to strengthen Ottawa's control of Canadian multinationals running mines in developing countries.
If passed, Liberal MP John McKay's legislation (Bill C-300) wouldgive the federal government the power to investigate complaints that Canadian mining operations overseas were not in compliance with international human rights and environmental standards. A company found not to be living up to those standards would be denied federal financial support by the Export Development Corp.
Hearings into the bill continue on Thursday. A final vote on the legislation in the Commons could take place early next year.
http://www.thestar. com/printarticle /730442 y http://www.thestar. com/news/ investigations/ article/730442- -miner-accused- of-aggressive- tactics
Miner accused of 'aggressive' tactics
November 25, 2009
OTTAWA–A former Argentine environment minister told MPs Tuesday that she had been personally threatened and forced to resign as a result of the aggressive activities of Canadian and other foreign companies that objected to her ministry's efforts to clean up mining operations in her country.
Testifying by video hookup at hearings of the House of Commons foreign affairs committee, Romina Picolotti singled out Toronto-based Barrick Gold Corp. as one of the multinationals that used political and economic clout to block government intervention in the firm's mining ventures in Argentina..
Barrick, the world's biggest gold producer, was so successful in convincing the Argentine government to block legislation affecting one of its operations that the cancellation became known as "the Barrick veto," Picolotti said. She was referring to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez's decision last year to veto glacier-protection legislation that might have affected Barrick's Pascua Lama project in the Andes.
Picolotti told MPs examining proposed mining legislation that foreign mining companies stood out from other business sectors in their resistance to Argentina's bid to tighten up environmental controls.
"They were more standoffish, more resistant, more aggressive and more dangerous," Picolotti said. "I and my closest staff were personally and physically threatened following our mining intervention. My children were threatened. My offices were wiretapped. My staff was bought and the public officials that once controlled Barrick for me became paid employees of Barrick Gold," she told MPs.
"Ultimately, I was forced to resign due to insurmountable pressures from companies like Barrick Gold, who ultimately get their way when our institutions fail to control their performance and compliance."
Vincent Borg, spokesman for Barrick Gold, called Picolotti's allegations "mind-boggling" and "inconceivable. "
"It's a sad day when activists parade before a committee of our Parliament making such false and damaging allegations, " he said.
"If there was any truth to that, I would assume that she would have reported such nonsense to be investigated by police authorities in Argentina. To my knowledge that has not been the case. It should have been investigated. It was her responsibility to bring that to the attention of the authorities if in fact anything of that sort had occurred."
Picolotti, environment minister from 2006-08, was testifying at hearings into legislation meant to respond to years of allegations that Canadian mining giants were involved in human rights violations and environmental degradation in their overseas operations.
Liberal MP John McKay's legislation (Bill C-300) would give the federal government the power to investigate complaints that Canadian mining operations overseas were not in compliance with international human rights and environmental standards. A company found not to be living up to those standards would be denied access to Canadian taxpayer support.
In his testimony before the committee, Denis Tougas of L'Entraide missionnaire, a Montreal-based Catholic watchdog group, told MPs that Canadian taxpayer money has been invested (through government-controll ed investments like the Canada Pension Plan) into Canadian mining companies alleged to have been committing human rights abuses in Africa.
Tougas, who has researched Canadian mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, elaborated on allegations reported in the Sunday Star about the cooperation of a joint Canadian-Australian mining company in a military massacre in the Congo that left at least 73 people dead in 2004.
"Witnesses confirmed that the company did not just transport soldiers but also prisoners, the injured and the bodies of murdered civilians to be buried in at least one mass grave," he said.
As of 2008, CPP had $20 million invested in the firm, Anvil Mining.
Tougas, testifying in French, told MPs that three Anvil employees (including one Canadian) were acquitted of accusations of complicity in crimes against humanity by a Congolese military tribunal in 2007, but that Louise Arbour, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has expressed concerns about the tribunal's findings.
Anvil Mining could not be reached for comment. But on its website the company says it is "disappointing that accusations and continuous and repetitive allegations" about its involvement in the attack continue to be raised.