Archive for August, 2014

Power, and Barrick Gold, corrupt: they take the gold and leave the cyanide

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

gold_barrick[Translation of an article from El Clarín of Santiago, Chile, for August 25, 2014. See original here and go here for more information.]

By Alicia Gariazzo

Eighty percent of the gold produced in the world is for jewelry. Supplying the gold for a wedding ring takes 18 tons of earth and leaves 12 cubic meters of waste. The low-grade mineral that is dug up is sprayed with a solution of cyanide, which releases tiny particles of gold as it lixiviates, or filters through. The waste cyanide is carried away in water through pipes to the tailings dams. The dams are left uncovered so the cyanide can disintegrate and the water can evaporate. Close to 100 toxic chemicals and heavy metals are released as the cyanide breaks down.

They remain intact after the process and they cannot be removed from an area several kilometers in diameter. One teaspoon of a two-percent solution can kill an adult. The method of lixiviation, banned in Canada and throughout the industrialized world, requires 180 tons of cyanide a month, which, since it is imported, has to be transported over land from the ports of entry. Another method, used less often, is amalgamation based on mercury. Modern dentistry now prohibits the use of the amalgam in teeth because of the secondary effect the mercury produces, even in small quantities. (more…)

Brazil: What workers can expect from the three leading presidential candidates

Monday, August 25th, 2014

candidates [Translation of an article from Carta Maior of São Paulo for August 23, 2014. See original here.]

By Najla Passos

Brasilia – The Departamento Intersindical de Assessoria Parlamentar (DIAP – Inter-Union Department for Parliamentary Consultation) has no doubt that of the three leading candidates President Dilma Rousseff is the one who can best assure moving forward on the workers’ agenda. According to the organization’s director of research, Antônio Augusto Queiroz, their conclusion is based on a combination of data taken from the candidates’ platforms, a close examination of each candidate’s political profile, an analysis of the correlation of forces they will have to face in parliament and, mainly, an evaluation of the advisers who surround them.

“Campaign platforms conceal more than they reveal. They are all made for winning elections. So citizens should pay attention to platforms because they give clues, to the candidates’ speeches, which also help, but mainly to the people who surround the candidates, who will form their team if they are elected. No president does anything in isolation. What they do begins with what their team thinks, with what their team puts together,” he states. (more…)

Victims in Havana: The decisive moment in the Colombian peace process

Monday, August 18th, 2014

[Translation of an article from Razón Pública of Bogotá for August 11, 2014. See original here and related articles here, here and here.]

By Marco Alberto Velásquez Ruiz

Victims and peace

The question of the victims has taken the dominant position in the framework of the peace talks being conducted by the government and the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia]. But political tensions and controversies over who the victims are and how they may be represented by those speaking in Havana threaten to destabilize or even to halt the negotiations.

It is therefore important to examine the process of selecting the victims who are to participate directly in the negotiations, the criticisms that have been made of the process and the possible implications for the continuation of the peace talks.

As Commissioner for Peace Sergio Jaramillo has said on several occasions, the Colombian transitional justice effort is based on a series of elements meant to make it effective and legitimate and among these the participation of civil society, especially that of the victims of the conflict, stands out in the development of the dialogue. (more…)

Chile: Bachelet in Washington

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

bachelet[Translation of an article from Punto Final of Santiago for July 11, 2014. See original here and related articles here and here.]

By Álvaro Ramis

The president’s recent visit to the United States allows us to analyze the relations between the world’s leading power and our country in the context of the awakening of Latin American consciousness in defense of its sovereignty and in pursuit of integration. Michelle Bachelet showed up for her appointment in the Oval Office of the White House at an especially delicate time in the relations between the United States and Latin America. It is not trivial to stress this aspect of it. It is not just the countries of ALBA (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América — Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) that are currently in a state of open tension with the Obama administration. The differences also encompass countries like Brazil, affected by the policies of economic spying on its strategic enterprises, and Argentina, which finds itself attacked by the recent United States court ruling barring it from settling its credit commitments if it does not agree at the same time to pay the so-called “vulture funds” a sum greater than 13 billion dollars, which threatens its long-term stability. In the midst of all these serious contradictions, the relations between Chile and the United States may seem like a minor consideration. But Chile’s unique position gives it a strategic role in the eyes of Washington. When Obama called Bachelet his “second favorite Michelle,” after his wife, he was not exaggerating. The United States has few friends left in Latin America and those that remain are there more from obligation or duress than from conviction. Within that framework, Chile wants to be the pretty girl playing hard to get. Chilean diplomacy, led by Minister Heraldo Muñoz, has termed the strategy “convergence in diversity.” An elegant way of declaring that in strategic disputes Chile is not going to fall in line but will pursue its own interests, in a pragmatic way. That is the official position but is it the reality? (more…)