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A verification mission about the effects of mining on Food Sovereignty and the criminalization of social protests visited cantons near Cuenca, Ecuador, where the Continental Meeting of Abya Yala Peoples in defense of Water and Pachamama will start on June 21st.
Canadian company Iamgold, a company that has exploration and exploitation permits over gold deposits in Kimsacocha, is the main threat to water sources in the third Ecuadorian metropolis. But it is not the only one.
However, past experiences have allowed communities to know the serious negative effects of mining on the production of food and access to drinking water and water for irrigation. This has provided a basis for their resistance.
This is what inhabitants of cantons near Cuenca such as Tarqui, Girón, Cochapata, Santa Isabel and San Juan Gualaseo told the members of the Verification Mission on the Right to Food and the Criminalization of Social Protests.
Members of FIAN Ecuador, the coordinator of the Continental Human Rights Platform, Pablo de la Vega, and Real World Radio journalists are part of this working group.
A preliminary report of the mission will be submitted on Tuesday at the Continental Meeting of Abya Yala Peoples in defense of water and Pachamama, and will be circulated at international level together with a documentary with different testimonies.
An international integration panel will also participate in the Meeting to analyze the cases of criminalization against the advocates of water as a Human Right.
Arnulfo Cañar told Real World Radio from his town, San Bartolomé: “20 years ago a mining company operated here and we are still suffering the consequences. If we stay silent, we would be part of the mines.”
Silver and mineral extraction to produce ceramic has literally poisoned their water sources until the business stopped being profitable and the company abandoned the facilities, leaving a well that can’t be used to access water due to the high level of heavy metals in it.
Ana Heras Puchas, member of the Santa Isabel community said “We were never consulted about the mining permits.We are against mining because it is destroying us. We can’t eat gold, we can eat our products.”
“We’ve seen in other countries people not being able to drink water or bathe in it because of the poisons dumped by mining companies”, said Carlota Muñoz from Tarqui.
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