Ok, time for an update.
El Presidente comes to town (Ascendant’s that is..)
Ascendant’s new, more “compassionate” face
A new documentary about the struggle in the making
Police show up for a “routine” patrol… In Junin?
Why is Ascendant buying thousands of hectares of Intag’s lands?
It’s official: Ascendant turned in their prospectus and trying to list in Canadian Stock Exchanges
OOH! That must have hurt! Canadian government asked to stop abuses of Canadian mining companies overseas!
DECOIN’s Assembly reelects officials (oh boy!)
17 July 2005 (sending this from Apuela, since my phone’s been out for 2 weeks, starting from the day we found out about Ascendant’s prospectus……….)
It’s been about 6 weeks since the last update and you’d think things would quiet down a bit. Maybe one day…
El presidente de Ascendant Copper, Mr. Gary Davis, strolled into Chalguayacu Bajo unexpectedly Sunday 25 of June, wanting to talk to Polibio Perez, the community activist living near Junin. Actually, it was not altogether unexpected, since he had asked Polibio for a face-to-face meeting for that same date. However, once he found out that we all met with community leaders a few days earlier and everyone decided it would be best if 5 or 6 presidents from different communities were present at the meeting, he called it off the previous day (some idiot had warned him we’d probably kidnap his ass). We are pretty sure he just didn’t want to meet with the other community presidents. Anyway, at the last minute we had to run around and tell everyone not to go.
But, much to everyone’s surprise, Sunday morning comes, and Davis shows up at Polibio’s door! That was not the first surprise of the day. Sitting there talking to Polibio when Davis drove up was a team of UK filmakers who were in Intag doing a documentary on the mining struggle. Since they had walked in from Cerro Pelado, the pro-mining forces had no idea they were there and ready to film! Then, Davis was surprised again to shake hands with the international representative for Friends of Earth Canada! He had also walked in with the film crew, as part of a special trip arranged by one of our major supporters (who also is paying for the film)!!
By the time the interview begun, a few other people had wandered in, and took part of it. The whole interview was filmed and I’m sure will become part of the documentary. If anything, Davis’ is a smooth character, the harbinger of, and face of the New Ascendant. He recognized they had made mistakes in the past and apologized, saying no violence would be tolerated any more…. He admitted the number of jobs being offered to people was untrue (by about 900%); and that he would respect the decision of the communities regarding the mining and environmental studies (yes, he actually said this). One of the more memorable things Polibio said was that 14 months were enough for us to know that we don’t want Ascendant here anymore….!! He denounced all the different violent tactics used by Ascendant and/or Codegam; asked to explain the good things mining would bring; and generally laid into him and Ascendasnt. He also denounced all the lies, and intimidation, death threats and all of Codegam’s false project they’ve been taking credit for (or inventing). Some other people questioned one of his statements regarding the 80% child mortality rate (totally absurd), and Polibio’s brother also criticized the violent way Ascendant had come into their communities (comparing it to the Conquistadores!)
The interview lasted over an hour, and I’ll be damn if I can remember all the main points, but these are some of the more memorable ones.. Nothing definite was agreed to and Davis said he was interested in talking to other parties, and pretty much left it at that.
But, to back track one day; while the film crew was in Junin, a special squad of police, immigration, and military intelligence (apologies for the contradiction), showed up, according to them on a “routine patrol” to check for papers. In Junin!! First time ever! One of the first things they apparently did was ask for the whereabouts of Carlos Zorrilla and the two international observers who had been staying in Junin for the past month or two (Charlie and Rebecca). Then they asked the film crew for papers, and left a bit with their tail between their legs after Lorena, Junin’s school teacher told them a thing or two (I was not in Junin, by the way, as I had decided not to acompany the film crew to minimize the chances of them being hassled.
International Observers: The program to put international human rights observers in Junin is in full swing. Stuart Schussler
took over when Charlie and Rebecaa returned to the US this past June. Stuart is heading the program right now and training a team of 4-6 mostly (or wholly) Austrian volunteers!! (If you know anyone that would like to volunteer, contact Glen Kuecker, who set up the program.)
Meanwhile, the violence has toned down. It seems the international pressure has definitely been felt up there. But, they merely are changing tactics. They are coming across now as Mr. Repentant-Nice-Guy, genuinely interested in what the communities have to say and in helping them out. Aren’t we lucky! One new tactic is buying land. According to information provided by the company in their prospectus sitting at the British Columbia Securities Commision (BCSC) which is, at this very moment, being analysed, they spent 537,000 dollars in purchasing about 500 hectares of land in Intag– this is between 8 to 15 times what DECOIN has been paying for titled land in the same areas!!!
Another strategy they are reviving is giving away computers to Schools… Yesterday they delivered four cheapo Samsungs to the Apuela High School and the Apuela Elementary school (two to each school).
But that’s not all, according to the prospectus they are setting aside ONE MILLION DOLLARS for future land purchases. This is all dependent on the Ok by the BC Securities Commission giving Ascendant the green light to list their company on the stock exchange. In all they’d like to get 15 million dollars to get them through the next 18 months and complete a first stage of drilling, plus do what all you can imagine with this kind of money in a place like Intag. over eight of those 15 million are earmarked just for the drilling program in their Junin concession.
Decoin, along with several US and Canadian based organization, plus our pro-bono team of lawyers are letting the people reviewing the prospectus our opinion on the information contained in the prospectus. The address to download the prospectus is below if you are interested.
And, yesterday, as many of you know, we received the fantastic news that the Canadian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade told the government to, basically stop Canadian mining companies abuse overseas, by (i) stop using taxpayer money to support destructive Canadian mining projects abroad; (ii) hold Canadian mining companies legally accountable for environmental and human rights violations in other countries, and; (iii) force the World Bank to respect international human rights standards… The government has 60 days to answer. MiningWatch Canada brought the Standing Committee’s report to our attention. One of the examples the MiningWatch Canada newsrelease used to highlight the importance of this report was the Ascendant-Intag example.
If you didn’t get the full newsrelease, let me know. It has some very important information and ways you can pressure the Canadian government to take action and stop the abuses of Canadian mining companies in places like Ecuador.
And last, yesterday DECOIN held its Assembly and the board was reelected! Silvia Quilumbango, president, Mareano Guachagmira VP, Silvia Vetancourt Secretary/Treasurer, and me Executive Director. But this time we put our foot down and asked for some serious help and formed different committes to help us out. The Committes are: Adminstration (this will probably get most of the work!!); Environmental Ed; Alternatives (productive projects, etc…), Projects, and Press , and Press i think I’m forgetting one. Let us know if you’d like to adopt one of the commissions; we’d like for each to have their own budget.
If you have any questions, congratulations! 🙂
Thank you for all of you who have been helping us out!
Just in case: to download the prospectus go to www.sedar.com; click on Company Profiles; Click on the capital “A”, and scroll, find and click Ascendant — open the prospectus PDF document (towards the bottom).