Vacancy: Global Engagement CATAPA Officer (GECO) at the Chaikuni Institute in Iquitos, Peru

Alberto Vázquez Ruiz | Peru, Peru, Peru, Vacancy, Vacancy, Vacancy | , ,

Vacancy: Global Engagement CATAPA Officer (GECO) at the Chaikuni Institute in Iquitos, Peru

CATAPA and the Chaikuni Institute are looking for a collaborator to work for a year at the Chaikuni Institute in Iquitos, Peru, with two main tasks: 1) Support or set up activities and projects of the Chaikuni Institute, allies and indigenous students related to mineral extractivist activities such as gold mining in rivers and oil extraction in the Peruvian Amazon and 2) support the general operation of the Chaikuni Institute, with a focus on the human and nature rights program.

The Chaikuni Institute

The Chaikuni Institute is a local non-profit organization, based in the city of Iquitos, in the Loreto Region in the Peruvian Amazon.  It’s a grassroots collective which investigates, promotes and protects equitable, inclusive, interrelated and abundant living systems, honoring indigenous knowledge and permaculture principles. We work hand in hand with indigenous people and local communities in the Peruvian Amazon, on three main programs: permaculture, human and nature rights, and intercultural education. For more information, please go to:



CATAPA is short for Comité Académico Técnico de Asesoramiento a Problemas Ambientales. It is an environmental non-profit organization from Ghent who sensibilizes people in Flanders and Brussels about the social and environmental impact of mainly large scale mining in Latin-America and supports organizations and communities in Peru, Colombia and Bolivia in their struggle against big mining projects. More information:


Tasks may be slightly adapted according to the specific strengths and interests of the GECO:


Support the Human and Nature Rights Program of the Chaikuni Institute

  • Organize and accompany all kind of different activities within the Human and Nature Rights program
  • Assist in the formulation, fund-raising and implementation of a new project on indigenous female leadership, human rights (with a specific focus on the right to clean water), and sustainable community solutions in communities affected by oil extraction.
  • Contribute to the environmental monitoring (quality of water, soils, etc.) of the oil-affected communities
  • Participate in workshops and public events concerning relevant topics (Oil and other extractive industries in the region).
  • Support of the intercultural education program when needed. Tasks may include: Organizing and assisting the tutoring and academic training of the indigenous students during their vacations (basic English, Spanish and computer classes), facilitating monthly movie nights for the students, assisting the organization of workshops and events with the students.



Between Catapa and Chaikuni

  • Share knowledge from the Chaikuni Institute with Catapa and the other way around
  • Provide information and material that supports the campaigns of Catapa.
  • External communication about local and (inter)national news concerning mining, extractive industries and social movements. E.g. through blogs, articles and photos on the website of Catapa and social media. Inform CATAPA about recent developments

Within the Chaikuni Institute

  • Preparation of contents for the website of the Chaikuni Institute
  • Support for updating the Chaikuni website
  • Help with the preparation of other communication materials
  • Support the development of advocacy materials (website, Facebook, etc.)
  • Assist with the creation of audio-visual materials
  • Support to advocacy activities in Peru and Belgium (and the world)
  • Translations


Fundraising and development of projects

  • Support any ongoing project of the Chaikuni Institute and/or set up an activity (campaign, documentary, artistic project, investigation etc.) with allied organizations related to mineral resource extraction issues in the Amazon region. Some current issues in the region are illegal gold mining carried out by river dredges and the ongoing conflict regarding the decade-long oil extraction in the region, but also the increased use and improper disposal of electronic devices are growing issues that need to be tackled.
  • Support the elaboration and translation of project proposals to (potential) donors
  • Assist in the process of mapping and identifying potential new donors
  • Promote and help spreading fundraising campaigns of the Chaikuni Institute



  • Assist and/or lead investigation of the Chaikuni Institute into different topics related to mineral extractive industries.


  • You have advanced knowledge in Spanish and English, Dutch is an added value.
  • Prior working experience in foreign countries and/or in social projects is desirable
  • Experience within CATAPA is an advantage
  • You are a creative, flexible, honest and dedicated person
  • You work independently and take your own initiative
  • You have intercultural sensitivity, can adapt easily and have patience
  • You are interested in topics related to indigenous peoples
  • You have the capacity to work in a multi-disciplinary and multicultural team
  • You preferably have a university degree in social or natural sciences, related to environmental and human rights issues.
  • You are interested in volunteering at CATAPA after return
  • You are able to set up projects and find funds/subsidies
  • People with a more technical/natural science background (engineering, biology, chemistry, etc.) are encouraged to apply


We offer:

  • Preparation by CATAPA before departure and following up during the stay
  • A full travel insurance
  • As a contribution to your local living cost, you’ll receive 425 Euros/month (if you don’t have a right to social benefits in Belgium). From this amount you are also expected to cover your phone and local transport expenses for work related activities.
  • We don’t refund the flight ticket or costs involving vaccinations
  • A working experience in a fascinating region with challenging tasks on current issues
  • A professional and multicultural work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • Welcoming, training and continuous follow-up by Chaikuni’s staff
  • An opportunity to learn, grow professionally and contribute to the vision of the Chaikuni Institute working for economic alternatives for the local communities in Loreto and the preservation of the Amazon rainforest



  • Ideally from the 1st of October, with a duration of one year after a positive evaluation after 6 months. (small deviation is possible).



  • City of Iquitos, in the northern Peruvian Amazon region Loreto, with possible travels to communities once in a while.


Send your CV (in English) and a motivation letter (in Spanish) to Charlotte Christiaens ( at the latest on the 31st of August. Interviews are planned in the first week of September.

Mines & Territory, March 2019

Mattijs Vanden Bussche | Colombia, Colombia, Disaster, Disaster, Ecuador, Ecuador, Mining, Mines&Territory, Mines&Territory, Mining, Peru, Peru


March 2019

Collection, summary and edition by Mattijs Vanden Bussche, Sam Packet and Karlijn Van den Broeck

Download Mines & Territory, March 2019 here.


March 2019

News comes and goes. With social media as the main outlet for civil society organizations in Colombia to get their stories heard, a story can be famous for a day after which it disappears in the mass information. Mines & Territory aims to register and share these stories for longer than just a viral thread. Mines & Territory collects the most remarkable events that have occurred in the past month regarding extractivist matters in Colombia and summarizes them in English so that the information is accessible to anyone interested and raises awareness internationally to the current eco-socio realities in Colombia.

Organizations ask the UN for intervention to protect the páramo of Santurbán, threatened by mining projects

Civil society organizations sent a letter to Léo Heller, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of drinking water and sanitation in Colombia. They warn the Rapporteur that these fundamental rights are threatened by the plans of executing harmful mining projects in or near the Santurban páramo. Several mining companies have tried for more than 15 years to extract gold from the páramo, a fragile and strategic ecosystem that provides water to millions of people in Colombia. They request the Rapporteur to prepare a specific report on the case, to visit the site, and to raise his voice to urge the Colombian State to protect the ecosystem and to comply with its international obligations in relation to the right to water.

Source: AIDA AMERICAS ‘Organizaciones piden a la ONU intervenir en la protección del páramo de Santurbán, en riesgo por minería’ .


ANLA denies appeal environmental license filed by oil multinationals

The environmental licensing authority (ANLA) denied the appeal for reinstatement filed by the companies Conocophillips and Canacol Energy after the environmental license for the fracking pilot projects in the Central Magdalena valley had been rejected in November last year. ANLA argued that the provided information is insufficient to carry out an adequate evaluation which ensures the protection of the environment. The Alliance of Colombia Free of Fracking celebrates this decision as it incorporates precautionary principles and recognizes the requests of grass roots organizations in San Martín, Cesar, which have warned for the possible environmental damage that these projects might bring.

Source: ENLACETELIVISION: ‘ANLA niega pilotos de fracking en el Magdalena Medio’.


Anglogold Ashanti drop plans for several mines in Colombia and Argentina to focus on the mines in Quebradona and Gramalote

The South African mining company AngloGold Ashanti (AGA) announced in February that they would sell their share (95%) of the Cerro Vanguardia gold and silver mine in Argentina. They will do the same with one of their branches in Colombia: the Northern Colombia Holdings Limited. AGA says they will receive approximately 4.6 million USD and several additional payments for the sale of the parcels (= gold mining concessions -36,000 hectares- and rights to obtain mining concessions -215,000 hectares) to Royal Road Minerals Limited.

In Argentina, AngloGold already abandoned the Cerro Vanguardia mine in the Santa Cruz province. They left a sore heritage, testifies the Environmental Citizen Assembly (AAC) of Río Gallegos: “The legislation allowed mining companies to leave the ‘open pits’ and their respective dumps uncovered, in state of exploitation, leaving a poor soil with an unknown volume of contaminated aquifer. Social and environmental costs end up way higher than the benefits this mine brought to the region. Neither the social aspect, nor the employees, have ever been a priority. All of a sudden, they have left the aprox. 1,000 workers without an income. In Santa Cruz, AGA never allowed a sustainable development that benefits the population. There have only
been scarce investments compared with the high profitability that the exploited resources provided them.”

Dushnisky, CEO of AngloGold Ashanti, says they have other opportunities which they prefer to invest in. AGA thus shifted its focus to two key projects in Colombia: the Quebradona copper mine in Jericó and the Gramalote gold mine in San Roque, both villages in the department of Antioquia. Felipe Márquez, country CEO of AGA, explains: “The investments of the mining company for 2019 in Gramalote would be about 10 million US$. In Quebradona close to 55 million US$. In Gramalote we have completed the exploration stage and all the technical activities required to advance to the construction and assembly phases. In Quebradona we are finalizing the technical studies of the exploration stage, so our idea is to present the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) with the idea of moving to the construction and assembly phase in 2020. The Plan of Production and performance would allow us to start extracting copper between 2022 and 2024.” (This announcement comes weeks after the mining company was authorized by the Court of Antioquia to carry out activities in the municipality of Jericó Antioquia). The court cancelled the preventive measures that had been introduced by José Andrés Pérez, mayor of Jericó, which restrained the company from continuing any mining activity in the municipality in order to protect the ecological and cultural heritage. (cf. 7. Jericó is awaiting a definite green light to be able to stop mining in their municipality)

Sources: ‘PORTFOLIO ‘AngloGold continúa estudio de factibilidad para proyecto en el país’; EL ESPECTADOR ‘Minera Anglogold Ashanti venderá parte de sus proyectos’; LAREPUBLICA ‘AngloGold empezará a extraer cobre en 2022’; OPI SANTA CRUZ ‘ AngloGold Ashanti abandonó el yacimiento Cerro Vanguardia’; VALORA ‘Minera Anglogold Ashanti vende parte de su cartera en Colombia.


The University of Antioquia reinstates the earlier suspended course financed by AngloGold Ashanti

The University of Antioquia reinstated a course funded by the mining multinational AngloGold Ashanti in Jericó despite the fact that the educational institution had committed to suspend the program. The community of Jericó expressed their opposition to the course because, according to them, it would be part of an advertising campaign in favor of the development of ‘La Quebradona’, a metal mining project in the municipality. The course aims to train social leaders in issues of development, self-management and sustainability. The environmental comité of Jericó hopes the University will suspend the course once more. “We hope that the rectory understands that we don’t want this course here in Jericó, that we reject the
activities of the mining company and that we demand that the public university fulfills a social role, taking the side of the communities and helping them to protect the environment, ” explains José Fernando Jaramillo, member of the comité. As a response to the criticism, the University argues that the agreement guarantees that they will preserve their autonomy in the elaboration of the content. However, Jaramillo indicates that with this initiative, AngloGold Ashanti is really looking to (green)wash its image in front of the communities.

Source: CONTAGIORADIO: ‘Anglogold Ashanti pretende lavar imagen de diplomado U de Antioquia’.


Indigenous communities of Sierra Nevada declare Environmental Emergency in the region

Since the end of February, the Sierra Nevada, a mountainous region at the Caribbean coastline, has suffered from 10 destructive forest fires. The flames destroyed about 1,000 hectares of the ecosystem. Besides the natural damage, houses, farms, sacred sites, health centers and schools of the indigenous settlements have been destroyed. Due to the long summer, the heat waves and strong winds, the Indigenous communities fear for the safety of other areas of their cultural and natural patrimony. The current situation threatens the balance and harmony of the land as a source of life, as well as cultural heritages of its inhabitants. Therefore the authorities of the pueblo de la Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta declared an environmental and economic emergency in the area and urged the national and regional authorities to intervene immediately and to take the necessary measures of prevention and control.

Sources: JUSTICIA AMBIENTAL COLOMBIA: ‘Los cuatro pueblos indígenas de la Sierra Nevada se pronuncian frente a la crisis ambiental en el corazón del mundo.’


Jericó awaits definite green light to stop mining in its municipality

Seven kilometers southeast from the village center of Jericó, you’ll find the Quebradona mining project, owned by South African multinational AngloGold Ashanti. Jericó, a small municipality in Antioquia with around 12 thousand inhabitants, finds its prosperity mostly in agriculture. It therefore comes as no surprise that the local farmer communities did not welcome the mining company with open arms. For the past two years farmer organizations mobilized and campaigned massively against metal mining in their municipality. They argue that this would not only affect their natural resources but also the social frames in the town. They fear that problems such as poverty, crime, social degradation and environmental damage might come along with it.

Fortunately, the people of Jericó have a town council who has their back. Mayor Jorge Pérez Hernández argued that the mine would have devastating effects as 100% of the water sources of Jericó come from the area where the mine would be. In 2017, a first attempt to prohibit mining through a municipal agreement was rejected by the administrative tribunal of Antioquia, arguing that the City Council was not the competent authority to prohibit mining in the municipality. The agreement was based upon section 9 of article 313 of the Constitution, which states the right of municipality councils to take measures for “laying down the necessary norms in order to secure the control, preservation and defense of the ecological and cultural patrimony of the municipality”.

One of the arguments in favour of the mining operations is that the “subsoil belongs to the nation”, and therefore the national government is the only authority who is able to decide on mining matters. However, a study of articles 332 and 334 of the Constitution and Law 685 of 2001 (Code of Mines) states that “the Constitution did not attribute the ownership of the subsoil to the Nation but to the State”, which means that the ownership of the subsoil belongs to all state’s authorities: local, regional and national.

A second municipal agreement, enforced by the mayor at the end of 2018, has not yet been invalidated – nor approved – by the Administrative Tribunal of Antioquia. Meanwhile the work of the company is (supposed to be) suspended. Fernando Jaramillo, leader of the environmental table of Jericó, says it is quite difficult for the Tribunal to make a decision since the State Council approved a similar municipal agreement in the municipality of Urrao, also in southwest of Antioquia, where mining activities are prohibited as to the protect ecological heritage.

The contradictory decision-making between the State Council and the Consitutional Court does not simplify the struggle for municipalities. While the first one protects the competence of territorial entities to prohibit mining in their territories and the validity of popular consultations as a mechanism for citizen participation, the Constitutional Court reinforced the idea that the capacity of municipal consultations is limited, especially when talking about subsoil and exploitation of non-renewable natural resources, whose ownership is national. Jaramillo adds that, in the end, the worst damage that the company has generated so far is a division of the population which turned out in a conflict between those who support the company and those who oppose their activities.

Source: SEMANARURAL: ‘Jericó espera una luz verde definitiva que detenga la minería’.


Communities stand up against the construction of dams in Quindío and Antioquia

In Pijao, Quindío, a farmer community sound the alarm bell after researchers entered unannounced their territory to take measurements of a small stream. They said they were taking measures for the construction of a small hydroelectric dam and explained that the area is supposedly “property of the municipality of Pijao”. The mayor clarified that the dam already existed since 1930, and it managed to generate energy for the municipality, explaining that a mud stream had erased the former dam.

Deputy Jorge Hernán Gutiérrez from the Liberal party proposed a debate where the local, departmental and environmental authorities are to report and to be alert of what the national government intends to do in the territory. “And while it is true
that there are rulings of national order that could force the installation of the dam, there are also constitutional rules that protect our rights and compensations for the environmental damage that our territory might suffer.” In the East of Antioquia, various protest marches against the construction of dams took place on March 14th, International action day against hydroelectric dams. “In several municipalities of the department, like Cocorná, with three medium-sized hydroelectric plants, peasant activities and water springs suffer a lot because of the artificial regulation of the natural river streams”, according to Carlos Olaya, environmental defender.

Sources: CRONINCA DEL QUINDIO: ‘Hidroeléctrica en Pijao no es nueva, existía desde 1930’; MI ORIENTE: ‘Municipios del Oriente dijeron “no más hidroeléctricas”.’


Gachantiva prohibits mining

Gachantiva (a small town in the Boyacá province) succeeds in the prohibition of mining through a municipal agreement. The government tried to avoid for 5 years that the inhabitants would organize a Consulta Popular. The mine would pose at risk the environmental resources and the water provision of the region.

Source: RCN RADIO: ‘Concejo de Gachantiva Boyaca aporobó proyecto que prohibe la minería.’


12th march ‘Por la vida y el agua” en Cauca

At the beginning of March, the 12th march ‘por la vida y el agua’ took place in the region of Cauca. The 350 protesters aimed to reject mining in the region and the damage it causes to the environment, the fauna and the water provision. They furthermore complained about the lack of state provisions to face the rural challenges in the region. They told the multinationals Carboandes and Miranda Gold that they have a month to leave the Macizo Mountain range.

Source: NOTIVISION: ‘Se realizó la XII Marcha por la Vida y Por el Agua en Cauca’.


Court rules that Colombian Government has to find a substitute for asbestos

A ruling of the 39th Administrative Court of Bogotá ordered the Government to replace this mineral with less harmful substances, within a period of five years. According to the information provided by the legislator’s office, between 2010 and
2014 the National Institute of Cancerology recorded 1,744 deaths from lung cancer caused by asbestos, and in the last five years the battle against the disease caused the loss of another 285 Colombians affected by mesothelioma. The use of asbestos has been banned in more than 50 countries around the world, including the European Union. The material that is used to make tiles, pipes, ash pads for cars and even uniforms entails enormous health risks, according to the World Health Organization. The judgement is supported by most of the political authorities concerned with the problem. Although in some parts of the country the reactions are less enthusiastic. In Campamento, a small municipality in the north of Antioquia, people still rely on the active asbestos mine which provides the majority of the jobs. Most of its citizens are convinced that the material did not cause any health problems in the town during the past decades. The governor of Antioquia announced that a social plan would be set up in order to prevent the negative effects of the loss of this mine which functions as a source of income for the town.

Sources: EL TIEMPO ‘Campamento, el pueblo que se niega a renunciar al asbesto’; EL NUEVO SIGLO ‘Greenpeace insiste en que Congreso prohíba el asbesto’.


27 Congress members ask President Duque to prohibit fracking in Colombia

A group of 27 congress members, most of them belonging to the Green Alliance, sent a letter to President Iván Duque asking to ban the use of fracking for oil exploration. They confronted him with the promises he made during his presidential campaign. “One of your commitments was that there would be no more fracking in Colombia, a decision that you expressed in academic and community centers and in the press, and which you justified by ensuring that the risks of developing these activities were very high in social, geological and environmental matters”, states the letter.

The congressmen condemn the intentions in the recently published National Development Plan which aims for an expansion of the oil and mining industry and the dependence on the fossil fuel industry. They encourage the President to prohibit fracking since it “is a responsible decision”, and they ask him to “honor his word and be in harmony with the concerns of Colombians, especially those who would be directly affected by the possible consequences of this type of projects.”

Ecopetrol, one of the countries largest oil companies, revealed in February their new market strategies for the period 2019 – 2021, where fracking is an option to strengthen their reserves.

Source: RCN RADIO ‘Nuevo llamado de congresistas a Duque para prohibir el fracking’.


Minga indígena: indigenous communities block the Panamericana and demand visit of President Duque to obtain guarantees for their rights

Indigenous people in southwestern Colombia have mobilized protests across highways to demand a meeting with President Iván Duque over his government’s failure to implement agreements and respect indigenous land rights.

Indigenous groups in southwestern Colombia have since March 10th mobilized mass protests, known as minga, to demand a meeting with President Iván Duque over his government’s failure to implement agreements made during the previous administration’s historic 2016 peace agreement and recognize community land rights. Protest leaders estimate there were 20,000 people involved in the massive mobilization as of March 27th, including Afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, students, and associations of peasant farmers, or campesinos. The Indigenous Regional Council of Cauca (CRIC) has denounced the crackdown against the minga by the police’s anti-riot squad, known as ESMAD. “This is an attack against the entire dialogue process that has existed up until today within the minga. It is an attack against the security and the life of every person at the camp and surrounding area,” CRIC said. Nelson Lemus, a CRIC council member, told Mongabay that the
protesters wanted Duque to meet with the indigenous organization in Colombia’s department of Cauca —something he has failed to do since taking office in 2018, CRIC said in a press release. “We demand that the government respects the rights of
indigenous and Afro-descendent minorities to conserve our territory, protect our water and strengthen our indigenous economies,” Lemus said. “Our first political objective is that the president comes to indigenous territory to hold a face-to-face meeting with us.”

The protesters have blocked the PanAmerican Highway connecting Colombia to Ecuador, and Duque has refused to travel to Cauca to meet with indigenous organizations unless the roadblock is lifted.“We should be able to come to an understanding through a legal framework,” Duque said in a public address to the country on March 28th. CRIC criticized the president’s declaration, saying his portrayal of the minga as illegal undermines their right to protest and raises fears of violence at the hands of government and right-wing paramilitary groups.

Colombia’s ombudsman, Carlos Alfonso Negrete, called on the president to sit with the indigenous protesters to end the roadblocks, which are seen as having a negative impact on the nation’s economy. The transportation of basic food supplies
and gasoline has been impacteding southern parts of the country, and the Colombian Red Cross has activated a humanitarian caravan to provide medical supplies and assistance to affected communities in the Cauca.

The demands of the ethnic minorities participating are: the inclusion of ethnic communities in the government’s recently announced National Development Plan; the protection of community leaders from targeted killings; and the guarantee of prior consultation (consulta previa) for extractive or agro-industrial projects that affect indigenous territory. They also demand their full appropriation of 400 square kilometers (154 square miles) of land that was promised to indigenous people in the Cauca by the former president, Juan Manuel Santos; since only 14 square kilometers (5.4 square miles) have been delivered to date. CRIC says the land would have to be divided between 126 reservations in the department.

CRIC also declared its opposition to oil exploration in the form or fracking, that has begun at three pilot locations in the Magdalena River valley. Five companies, including ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips and state-owned Ecopetrol, are seeking to operate six proposed fracking blocs. “We don’t agree with fracking practices,” Lemus said. “This government has approved fracking, the destruction of the Amazon and other environmental crimes that only serve to increase the wealth of a corrupt minority and multinational corporations. Our territories are systematically violated by this government beholden to a capitalistic death project.”

On March 22th, an explosion in remote indigenous territory in Valle del Cauca department killed nine indigenous protesters. Before launching an investigation, the government claimed the deaths were caused by an accident. Minister of Defense Guillermo Botero told El Tiempo the explosive devices were brought into the territory by an indigenous protester, presumably to generate an attack. “That is the most probable hypothesis considering that they are near the Buga Buenaventura highway.” The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC for its Spanish acronym) rejected the notion that indigenous people were responsible for the explosion, calling the incident a paramilitary-led massacre. “The indigenous people are people of peace, not terrorists,” ONIC said in a public statement.

Sources: MONGABAY: ‘Indigenous leaders decry Colombia’s deadly crackdown on land protesters’.


World Water Day

On the 22th of March, World Water Day was celebrated. In various parts of Colombia, people took the streets to demand attention for the irresponsible use of water resources. In Bucaramanga citizens spoke up for the protection of the Santurban páramo, a fragile and strategic ecosystem that provides water to millions of people in and around the city and is currently threatened by mining. A similar protest occurred in the nearby city of Barrancabermeja, where people also criticized the poor water management and the way authorities are willing to privatize water resources.

In Medellín, the environmental association ‘Rios Vivos’ organised an encuentro por la liberacíon del Río Cauca. With music, sing-alongs for the water, speeches and debates, they aimed to claim justice for the environmental disaster that was caused to the second biggest river of Colombia by the Hidroituango dam, which cut the river’s current for almost three days in February.
(cf. M&T February).

Meanwhile mining companies such as Minesa seek to take advantage of this symbolic day by publishing publicity videos which aim to show a company concerned with water conservation and supply. In a press interview, the president of the company, Santiago Ángel, condemns the “stigmatization” of mining always being bad for a clean water supply. He argues that his company is aware of the importance of water in the mining territories and that they so far completed over 60 thousand hours of technical studies to ensure the protection of water resources. In their publicity companies, sentences created by grassroots
organisations such as ‘el Agua es Vida’, Water is Life, are used.

On the World Water Day Yes to Life No to Mining and partners launched their online ‘water is life – toolkit’. The site YLNM designed is a summary of the circuit in which water circulates within the ecosystem, the importance of water for human and other life on the planet and the threats to water resources by mining and oil activities. Furthermore, the platform offers a toolkit with basic principles that communities can implement to protect their territory from destructive mining.

Sources: TWITTER: ‘Tweet Minesa Colombia 21 March 2019’; TWITTER: ‘Tweet Movimiento Rios Vivos 19th of March 2019”; YLNM: ‘How mining disrupts the water cycle’; VANGUARDIA: ‘Realizan plantón para exigir protección del agua en Santander’; CARACOL: ‘Trabajadores de Minesa consumirán agua que usen’.


Mines&Territory's extra section on remarkable events that happened in other Latin American countries concerning extractivism.


Mexican president Lopez Obrador cancels a big mining project in the ‘Bajo California Sur’- department and announces that it’s time to protect the nature and the paradise Mexico possesses, instead of destroying it. His main motives are tourism and the protection of water.

Source: LAJORNADA: Cancela AMLO mina de oro Los Cardones en BCS.



The third circuit of the United States Court of Appeals in Washington reinterpreted the case of Máxima Acuña and her family against Newmont Mining Company. The Peruvian family sued Newmont in the United States for the abuses perpetrated by the security forces hired by Newmont Mining. At first instance the case was rejected, arguing that it should be judged in Peru, but now the Court of Appeals reversed that decision. Marissa Vahlsing, lawyer of EarthRights International, who represents Máxima and her family, says that Newmont knows better than anyone that the family will not get a fair trial in Peru, and that local courts have not guaranteed the rights of the family. Newmont insists on sending the case to Peru.

Máxima Acuña has been struggling for years to defend her rights, her territory and those of her community. Newmont however is determined to ignore such rights and seize the land to build an immense open pit gold mine. This mining project, called Congo, would be one of the biggest in Latin America. Security forces hired by Newmont have systematically harassed and brutalized Máxima and her entire family, destroyed their house and killed their animals, all in order to remove them from their lands and expand their mining operations. After the Peruvian authorities failed to protect the family from these abuses, the family filed a lawsuit against the mining company in the US Federal Court in 2017. Today, it seems like their voice is finally
being heard. The family urges Newmont to stop the abuse and demands reparations for the damage they have caused.

Source: PORLATIERRA: ‘Máxima Acuña y su familia ganan apelación en Estados Unidos contra gigante minera.’



The citizens of Girón, in Azuay, said no to the mining project ‘Loma Larga’ in Ecuador’s first recognized Consulta Popular. Social organizations and environmentalists requested the consultation protect the water and settlements of indigenous people. The Consulta Popular had to determine whether the mining works in the Quimsacocha Páramo could or could not continue. The Canadian company INV Metals intends to extract gold, silver and copper in the páramo which contains lagoons and water springs that supply water to the country’s third city, Cuenca. The outcome of the binding referendum will threaten the activities of INV Metals, which owns the largest concession in that area, expected to extract 2.6 million ounces of gold, 13.3 million ounces of silver and 88 million pounds of copper in 12 years. Last week, Candace MacGibbon, CEO of the mining company, said in a statement that they will continue to advance towards the development of the project. She says the area of Girón was the designated location of the processing and tailing facilities, but the company will relocate to other areas if necessary. The Loma Larga project thus remains a threat to the region, outside of Girón.

This first successful Consulta Popular set a precedent in the fight against mining in Ecuador. Candidate to the Prefecture of Azuay and anti-mining activist, Yaku Pérez, pointed out that the environmental associations are planning new referendums in nearby municipalities, such as San Fernando, Íntag, Portete and Tarqui, to ban mining companies for once and for all in the region.

“Quimsacocha is the first step to reach an Azuay free of metallic mining,” Perez added. The Ministry of Energy and Non Renewable Natural Resources, Carlos Pérez, was against the consulta. He fears that the result might restrain companies from investing in the country and that the Canadian company, which has already spent more than 100 million dollars on the project, might turn to the international courts to prosecute Ecuador for not guaranteeing its investments.

Sources: ELTIEMPO: ‘Girón da su voto en la única consulta popular del país’; ELCOMERCIO: ‘El no se impuso con el 86, 79% en la consulta popular minera del cantón Girón, en Azuay’; ELDIARIO: ‘Primer referéndum vinculante en Ecuador para decidir entre medio ambiente y minería.’



Mining dam tragedies in Brazil.

At the end of March, a mining dam that contained clay and sand collapsed in the Brazilian state of Rondonia, border state with Bolivia, and a powerful spill of water and sand formed a waterspout that broke down several bridges and isolated about 300 people, informed official sources.

The dams located in the municipality of Machadinho D’Oeste were deactivated some 30 years ago and only contained water and clay, according to the company MetalMig, responsible for the facilities. According to the first reports, the breakdown occurred due to heavy rains and caused no casualties, but it revived Brazils fear for large dams of mining companies since a similar disaster killed at least 483 people in the city of Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais in January of this year, where a toxic mud stream devastated the area.

Regarding the Brumadinho disaster, on February 20th, the Brazilian Court ordered Vale S.A, the mining company that constructed the Brumadinho dam, to pay a minimum salary to each affected person in the tragedy of Brumadinho for 12 months and 400 reales (108 dollars) to all 50,000 inhabitants of the place. Before the judicial decision, there had been five
previous meetings between the Movement of those Afected by Dams and (MAB) and VALE to coordinate the emergency measures that the company was going to undertake to compensate the victims of Brumadinho, but they had refused to provide economic subsidies for the damages caused and only offered “donations”.

Source: OCMAL: ‘Histórica decisión judicial a favor de los afectados por la tragedia’.

Mirtha Vasquez visits CATAPA

Alienor de Sas | News, News, Peru, Peru

Mirtha Vasquez visits CATAPA to discuss the issues that 'defensoras' face

17 January 2018

This week Mirtha Vasquez visited CATAPA. She is the director of GRUFIDES and the lawyer for famous environmentalist Maxima Acuña and is based in Peru. The purpose of her visit was to lobby and raise awareness for the Defensoras in Peru and Latin America through public events and a meeting at the EU. The visit laid the groundwork for a very exciting week here at CATAPA.

On Tuesday there was an event at the Pianofabriek in Brussels called Women, gender equality, climate justice: a case for Defensoras. Besides Mirtha Vasquez, Amelia Alva Arevalo who is a researcher at University of Ghent spoke of her current research that focuses on the implementation and exercise of the prior consultation of indigenous peoples in the Andean Countries. In June-July 2017, she was on an observation mission to El Salvador on human rights violations towards Defensoras. Furthermore, Nicky Broekhoven spoke about her research that is coming from a legal perspective and focuses on gender equality, women’s rights, and environment. She is also a volunteer at the Gender and Human Rights division of Amnesty International, and advocates for a mainstreaming of gender in questions regarding human rights. The event attracted a diverse and large audience and the Pianofabriek was filled to the brim. After the presentations there was also a Q & A session with all the speakers, leading to dynamic discussions about the issues that WHRDs face.

The lawyer and director of Grufides, Mirtha Vásquez, gives a lecture during a public event organized by CATAPA in Brussels. Photography by Alienor de Sas (All rights reserved)

On Wednesday there was an event at the European Parliament aimed at raising awareness on the precarious situation of women environmental activists in Latin-America. Mirtha Vasquez did a presentation together with Dr. Clara Burbano-Herrera (University of Ghent). The presentations contained recommendations for the EU concerning the protection of HRDs and WHRDs in Latin America. Much interest was garnered from MEPs and NGOs with regards to how WHRDs can be protected, both within a legal framework and through attention garnered in various press publications. MEPs also asked questions about how they could include issues discussed in the presentation within free trade agreements (FTAs) and how they should be framed in an inclusive manner.

Following the presentations of Mirtha Vasquez and Dr. Clara Burbano-Herrera there was presentations from both Florent Marcellesi (MEP Greens/EFA), Rapporteur for Opinion, and  Jordi Solé (MEP Greens/EFA), member of AFET and BUDG. The presentations were concerning the protection that the EU give HRDs and how their new strategies are supported by the budget. At the request of the various civil society organisations present they elaborated further on the real life impact of the EUs commitments. It was indeed very interesting to hear about similar issues coming from both the EU and individuals affected by their policies.

Charlotte Christiaens, activities coordinator of  CATAPA and Mirtha Vásquez,  during her intervention in the European Parliament. Photography by Alienor de Sas (All rights reserved)

Of course there was also time for an internal meeting with Mirtha Vasquez and the catapistas to discuss the current situation in Peru and future collaborations.

It was a great pleasure to have her as a guest here at CATAPA and we are very glad that so many people showed interest in listening to her description about the current problems with the mining industry and WHRDs in Peru.

Mirtha Vásquez and Laura Lucio rapport of EU resolution

Alienor de Sas | Women, News, News, Peru, Peru, Women

The European Parliament approves resolution on “Women, Gender Equality and Climate Justice”

Mirtha Vásquez (GRUFIDES), Laura Lucio (ESF)

25 January 2018

The European Union (EU) has been concerned with the issues regarding the safety of human rights defenders (HRDs) for some time. In recent years HRDs has been victims of serious attacks by individuals or companies when trying to defend their territories against large projects with massive investments. There has been incidents where people have been attacked, assassinated in conjunction with various other human rights violations. Recently new light has been shed on the particular risk that women human rights defenders (WHRDs) are exposed to.

Due to such observations the EU has implemented new measures to not only protect HRDs, but also to minimize the impacts of the large projects has on the population and their territories. The EU recognized that the protection of various ecosystems and the environment is a fundamental aspect when facing increasing risks of global climate change.

Hence, parliamentary members from the green european parties presented a draft resolution on “Women, Gender Equality and Climate Change”. In order to highlight the importance of the initiative they invited Latin-American environmental defenders such as Mirtha Vásquez to speak. Mirtha Vásquez is mainly concerned with defending community rights in Peru and is a member of the Latin-American network of women earth and human rights defenders. She spoke about the importance of women in the struggle of environmental defence, and about the asymmetrical impact felt by women. This situation has been drastically intensified in light of recent years climate change context.

On January the 16th 2018 the European Parliament approved of this resolution. It establishes different principles that could strengthen the resilience of women and the protection of their human rights. The resolution has many objectives regarding the improvement of women’s role in decision-making processes. This mainly concerns processes regarding climate and environmental issues. Such advances could be an important catalyst for the inclusion of human and eco-territorial rights in the process of decision-making at the local level. It particularly affects the management of natural resources, the environment and the prioritization of rural sustainable development policies at the national level in order to tackle the extractivist model.

Furthermore, the resolution emphasizes the necessity of strengthening the right of access to land and ownership  by women as an important measure to guarantee gender empowerment. It can be an important mechanism that enables communities to preserve their traditional territories that are currently endangered by extractive industries. Extractive industries are generally regarded as one of the central causes of climate change and environmental degradation.

Given the relation between extractive industries and climate change we believe that the intervention and protection of WHRDs is fundamental. We would like to thank and celebrate this progress that, above all, recognizes women as active agents in the defense of their territory, with regards to the mitigation and adaptation necessary in order to face new climate risks.

The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of CATAPA and can under no circumstance be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union

Concerns over the irregular humanitarian pardon granted by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski

Alienor de Sas | News, News, Peru, Peru

Concerns aimed at the EU after pardon of former Peru president Fujimori

Brussels, Monday, 29th January, 2018

The “Plataforma Europa Peru” (PEP), the “EU-LAT Network” (ex CIFCA and Grupo Sur) and CIDSE would like to express their deepest concern to the European Union over the human rights situation in Peru, after the pardon granted to former president Alberto Fujimori, who had been sentenced to 25 years in prison for grave human rights violation. The three civil society networks ask the European Union and Member States to express their deepest concern to the situation and ask the Peruvian State to guarantee the right of the victims and/or their families to truth, justice and reparation, as well as guarantee the effective implementation of international human rights’ norms and judicial sentences given to the Peruvian State by national and international juridical mechanisms.

As indicated by the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights1, the granting of the pardon for alleged health reasons did not comply with the fundamental legal requirements, nor did it respect the elements of transparency and independence of due process, which should have been key during the undertaken technical medical evaluation. This jeopardizes the progress made in recent years in the advancement of democracy and the strengthening of the rule of law in Peru, both of which are
central elements in the European Union’s foreign policy with this country. It also represents a major setback in the search for truth, justice and reparationfor the victims of the internal conflict (1980 – 2000).

On April 7th 2009, Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison for grave human rights violation and for crimes against humanity. This sentence was ratified by the Peruvian Supreme Court in December 2009. Amongst other crimes, Fujimori was found guilty of the assassination of nine students and one professor from the University La Cantuta, and the assassination of fifteen people in Barrio Altos, Lima.

These crimes were classified as crimes against humanity by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in its judgement in the case against Alberto Fujimori in 2011. According to the international human rights law, explicitly endorsed by Inter-American Court during its ruling, crimes against humanity are not subject to pardons or amnesties, given the gravity of the crimes committed. Fujimori was also found guilty of corruption and diversion of funds.

It is important to highlight that the pardon took place in the midst of a political crisis, caused by corruption allegations that have affected a vast number of politicians, including the president, who feared being forced out of office. In fact, president Kuczynski reportedly only escaped being forced to vacate because a number of members of Congress who belong to Fujimori’s pro party abstained their vote, reason why the number of votes required for impeachment was not reached.

The pardon granted on the 24th of December by president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has been interpreted as a political move to please the Fujimoristas. The Pro-Fujimori party has a majority in Congress and, over the last year, it has limited the Executive’s capacity to govern effectively. From a wider perspective, the pardon can be considered a part of an impunity pact between the Peruvian government and the Fujimoristas, which seeks to cover corruption allegations as well as grave human rights violations over the last decades.

The political background severely questions the fact that the pardon responded to humanitarian reasons. The call for a “national reconciliation” mentioned by president Kuczynski is very worrisome when the rights of victims of human rights violations during the Fujimori mandate are being sidelined and placed below interests that appear to be politically motivated.

The Inter-American Court and the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights voiced their rejection to the pardon because “Peru failed to carry out the Court’s ruling and failed to fulfil its international obligations”. They have also called for the implementation of necessary measures to reestablish the rights of the affected victims.

Because of recent events, the PEP, the EU-LAT Network and CIDSE ask the European Union and Member States to condemn the current situation that allows for grave human rights violations to remain in impunity, and to:

  • Ask the Peruvian state to abide by any forthcoming decision taken by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is holding a special session on February 2nd to assess the legality of the pardon and its consequences, – a hearing requested by human rights organizations representing the victims;
  • Within the framework of the European Union – Peru dialogue, the European Union should follow up on the results from the legal hearing that took place on 26th January 2018 at the National Penal Court, pertaining the Pativilca case;
  • To ask the Peruvian State to adopt the necessary measures to reestablish the right of the victims to truth, justice and reparation, and to follow the recommendations of international experts and institutions to strengthen the rule of law.
  • To give their public endorsement to international mechanisms for the protection of human rights, including the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, in their recommendations to the Peruvian State concerning the pardon;
  • To take complementary measures to ensure the full compliance to the Democratic Clause subscribed to by all Member States to the Trade Agreement between the European Union, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador.

Plataforma Europa Perú, Red EU-LAT (ex CIFCA y Grupo Sur), CIDSE


1Comunicado de prensa 218/17; “CIDH expresa profunda preocupación y cuestiona el indulto concedido a Alberto Fujimori”.

2Cabe recordar que la Unión Europea misma había financiado proyectos relativos al seguimiento de las recomendaciones de la Comisión Verdad y Reconciliación en 2006.