Whither Canadian Diplomacy – Enabling Mining Companies or Land and Environment Defenders?

December 21, 2015

The below-signed organizations express our deep anger and solidarity with the people affected by the socio-environmental crime that took place on November 5, 2015 in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. This tragedy was provoked by the rupture of a tailing dam administered by the company Samarco, jointly owned by the Brazilian company Vale and the British-Australian firm BHP Billiton.

This accident, one of the biggest environmental disasters to have occurred in the country, is responsible for the death of an uncountable number of lives, including a number of human lives. The socio-environmental impacts continue to be felt and the full extent of this catastrophe is as of yet unknown, having completely altered the local ecosystem, destroying lives that depended on the Doce river and its surroundings.

We are angered by the death and disappearance of a number of people, including children, and by the social and environmental impacts that are affecting a large part of the population. While compensation for such harms is needed, much of the damage will be irreparable and will have lasting impacts for future generations.

Similarly, this tragedy was not simply an accident, but rather the result of a development model based on the logic of extractivist capitalism that is common in Latin America and in other parts of the world. This model frequently gives rise to serious human rights violations and irreversible environmental impacts from the mining industry. What took place in Minas Gerais is the result of a means of mineral extraction that produce riches for a few, while the lives of thousands of people are negatively impacted from the socio- environmental impacts of these activities.

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Original document signed by Common Frontiers and 34 other organizations.