Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Such a pretty ring: gold mining in the Third World (and why you shouldn’t support WWF and CARE)

Posted by Charles II on July 1, 2013

Rachel Deutsch, The Dominion via Upside Down World:

EL PORVENIR—There are some things Goldcorp would probably rather forget about its San Martin mine in Honduras.

But Oneyda Velásquez can’t forget. She lives three kilometres from the mine site in the Siria Valley, Honduras. She told The Dominion how both she and her children were tested and found to have heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic in their blood. She said that since the opening of the mine, her family’s health has gotten worse and the farming isn’t the same either. “[My children] are constantly sick with the cold, headaches, and they have marks on their skin. [Goldcorp subsidiary] Entremares is the mine that’s killing us,” said Velásquez.

The San Martin gold mine operated from 2000 to 2008, but local residents continue to feel its impacts. As production was winding down, Goldcorp, a Vancouver-based mining firm, claimed that the site would be converted into an ecological centre under the name of the San Martin Foundation—an attempt to re-brand the former mine as an ecotourism site. According to Goldcorp, the company has constructed an ecotourism hotel, a training centre for local communities and a sustainable business.

From the time of its arrival in the Siria Valley, Goldcorp framed mining as development. In its global operations, the company has collaborated with NGOs funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), particularly the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and CARE. Goldcorp boasts of these collaborations in its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reports, but no such projects have been undertaken locally in the Siria Valley.

Goldcorp claims to work with and fund CARE to “refine and expand the sustainable community investment guidelines, and optimize new opportunities to benefit local communities and national economies.” CARE receives CIDA funding for its work in Honduras and elsewhere; CARE received $5 million from CIDA for its water and sanitation projects in Honduras between 2006 and 2012, as well as close to $53,000 for general operations in Honduras, and another $13 million for further projects for 2010 to 2017.

5 Responses to “Such a pretty ring: gold mining in the Third World (and why you shouldn’t support WWF and CARE)”

  1. Greenwashing. Blecch.

  2. I am in the middle of reading Jeffrey Jackson’s 2005 book, THE GLOBALIZERS: DEVELOPMENT WORKERS IN ACTION which looks at the globalization work of medium and large size international, bi-national and NGO aid in Honduras. It inclused fascinating analysis of how the aid groups supported El Cajon dam and then moved in to make the repairs – but all to the gain of mostly non-Honduran groups. He also analyzes the role of these groups, including USAID in promoting and pushing the infrastructure for maquillas and then having international NGO step in to legitimize the NGOS by setting up non-Honduran monitoring groups. I think mining is following in the footsteps of these types of other globalizers – who profit themselves and promote a global governance that benefits them.

    • Charles II said

      The American empire is fascinating in how it subverts the best of things. NGOs especially.

      • Ah, so the CPA in post-Saddam Iraq was par for the course and not an aberration as far as US policy towards conquered states was concerned? How did the Japanese manage to luck out?

      • Charles II said

        The short answer, PW, is that they didn’t.

        I happen to know a bit about Japan. In the post-war era, hunger was common. As in Germany, attractive young women were able to make a livelihood through prostitution. But there was no real plan for an occupation.

        What saved Japan was the Korean War. The need for a rapid buildup created demand what the Japanese call their Marshall Plan. The social reforms of the MacArthur era were ended, the communists and trade unions were suppressed, and the zaibatsu (who had never suffered any real loss of influence) were restored to power.

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