“There are two ways forward: Either save capitalism, or save Mother Earth”, Bolivian President Evo Morales said, stressing that this was the choice facing governments at a May 7 press conference in New York. There, he discussed the outcomes of the 35,000-strong World People’s Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Perhaps no other sector better exemplifies the challenge the Bolivian government faces in lifting the country out of the poverty and dependency afflicting South America’s poorest nation than its all-important mining industry.
Mining minister and former miners’ union leader Jose Pimentel told Green Left Weekly: “Bolivia has been a mining country for more than 500 years, ever since the Spanish came and discovered the legendary wealth [of the silver mines] of Potosi.”
Under the new constitution approved in January 2009, the state now controls all minerals, metals, precious and semi-precious stones in the country.
While respecting previously granted concessions to private companies, it has restricted new concessions to joint ventures with the state
In 2007, the Bolivian government returned 100% control of the Huanuni tin mine to the state-owned Comibol.
On May 3, the government nationalised the Glencore-owned antimony smelter, which has been out of operation for more than two years.
The Socialist Alliance has endorsed Dr Renfrey Clarke to run for the Senate in South Australia. Clarke was one of the founders of the Climate Emergency Action Network in 2008, and is a well-known activist and writer on environmental topics. He is a member of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union.
A specialist on Russia and Latin America, Clarke worked for many years as a foreign correspondent for Green Left Weekly and other progressive media.
Below, Clarke outlines the priority issues around which he campaigns.
A huge crowd of 50,000 people marched in Auckland on May 1 against the New Zealand government’s plans to allow mining in the country’s national parks. It was New Zealand’s biggest protest march in living memory.
Greenpeace ambassador Robyn Malcolm said: “For nearly 50,000 Kiwis to turn out and be prepared to speak with one voice, must tell the government something ... Our land will always be more important to our identity than some extra dollars in the pockets of mining companies.”