Jan 29, 2013

The approval of the Honduran mining law constitutes a serious threat for affected communities

January 24, 2013

Latin America Observatory of Mining Conflicts (OCMAL) declaration in face of Honduran Mining Law Approval *

(Translated to English from original in Spanish below)

The Latin America Observatory of Mining Conflicts, OCMAL by its initials in Spanish, makes the following declaration in response to the approval of the Honduran mining law on January 23, 2013:

1. The approval of the Honduran mining law constitutes a serious threat for affected communities, whose activities depend on water, which mining companies consume, deplete and contaminate, as well as for ecosystems and watersheds that are fundamental for life and community development.

2. The process of debate and approval of the law are far removed from basic practices of democracy and participation, especially considering the efforts of Honduran civil soceity to participate and provide their input into the law. Beyond the short-term objectives of transnational mining companies, those working companies' behalf and their national allies, such a law should be compatible with national interests and the public good.

3. This law constitutes an enormous setback for environmental and social protection in Honduras and is a reflection of the real political and economic powers that control the destiny of this country against the will and true interests of the majority of the inhabitants that  seek sustainable development and equity for the whole population, especially the most vulnerable.

4. The commodification of territories, ecosystems, nature and lives of people will lead to social, environmental, cultural and moral degradation and more mining conflicts, which are ever more difficult to resolve given the pressure that transnational mining companies exert to continue their activities against the will of affected communities and social movements.

5. Transnational mining companies use diverse mechanisms, mostly illegitimate and unjust, such as international arbitration under Free Trade Agreements, to pressure governments to open up mining frontiers to unfettered extractive industry expansion without consideration for the will of the people and the interests of the country. This spirals into weakened rights, abuses, criminalization and persecution of social and environmental activists.

6. In Latin America, opposition to mining has grown as a result of the lack of respect for people's rights on the part of this industry, which destroys the foundation of people?s subsistence and undermines the possibilities for the wellbeing of communities in their territories. Each new mining project is inevitably accompanied by conflict with communities in which governments align themselves with transnational companies.

7. From the perspective of social movements across Latin America, we see the need to build solidarity with those who are most at threat from this law, which denies communities their rights while transferring them to transnational companies in perpetuity.

8. We will follow this process following the approval of the mining law, ready to denounce each and every one of the actions that threaten the personal, collective, social, environmental, cultural, religious and economic security of the affected communities and populations of Honduras.

Given the above, and in the profound spirit of democracy and participation in defence of life, we call for all to unite in the defence of the rights of our Honduran brothers and sisters who are dealing with this grave threat in a context in which democracy is lacking and human rights are regularly violated.

OCMAL, January 2013.

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