Briefs: Guatemala river 'ecocide'; Peru mega-mine opposition; Native Americans resist mining land grab

July 26, 2015

Guatemala: UN says corporate positioning of river 'ecocide'

The United Nations said 23 species of fish and 21 species of birds, reptiles and mammals in Guatemala's Pasion River have been affected by contamination caused by industrial African oil palm production, TeleSUR English said.

The UN expressed concern on July 21 about serious contamination of the river and the risks the environmental damage poses to thousands of families. The Pasion River was declared an ecological disaster after it was severely contaminated by an industrial pesticide used for the production of African oil palm, a chemically intensive crop grown as a monoculture.

“The main impact is water pollution, because these people live off the river, use the water for drinking and for personal hygiene, as well as feeding themselves with the fish,” said the UN coordinator in Guatemala, Valerie Julliand.

The extent of damage to the river started to come to light in June, when thousands of dead fish surfaced in northern Guatemala near the border with Mexico, leading authorities to investigate what they called an “ecocide”.

Peru: 87% want new environmental assessment of controversial mine

A new survey has shown 87% of residents of Islay, in southern Peru, want a new and independent environmental impact study conducted for the controversial Tia Maria mining project planned for the region, TeleSUR English said.

Islay is a highly productive agricultural area in the region of Arequipa. The planned Tia Maria mine has been the spark for growing protests and strikes. Recent clashes left two civilians and one police officer dead.

In May, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala sent the army to the region and declared an ongoing state of emergency.

US: Native Americans protest Australian mining companies seizing their land

The Apache Stronghold group has held protests in front of the US Capitol to draw attention to the seizing of their sacred land for a US$6 billion mine, TeleSUR English said on July 22.

A group of Native Americans protested in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC against a proposed copper mine on land they consider sacred in Arizona. The mine will run by Resolution Copper Mining, a company owned by Australian corporations Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton.

The Apache Stronghold group organised a caravan from their home state to Washington DC to demand the government scrap a bill allowing the seizure of their land for mining.

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