Ascendant Copper’s Land Purchases Investigated by Inda

By , October 31, 2005
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Land Purchases by Ascendant Copper Investigated by Inda
Ascendant Copper Clears One Hurdle to Listing
Codegam Disrupts Parish Assembly in García Moreno
Intag Solidarity Network Web Page Up and Running
And more….

Land Purchases by Ascendant Copper Investigated by Inda
On Saturday, 29 October, the head of Ecuador’s Institute for Agriculture Development in Imbabura province paid a surprise visit to the Cerro Pelado area to, in his word, “investigate the rash of illegal land titles given to Ascendant Copper Exploration”. The head of INDA, Diego Salgado, claimed there were at least 10 land titles that he thought were illegal, and that this would only be the first of many visits to find and punish the people responsible. DECOIN, together with the head of the Community Development Council, Polibio Perez, has denounced the illegalities of most of Ascendant Copper’s land purchases in the Cerro Pelado and Junin area, and have called for an investigation. We will be monitoring the situation to make sure the new head of Inda does his job and every single one of the titles in the company’s name are declared null and void.

Ascendant Copper Clears One Hurdle to Listing
Last week, the British Securities Commission approved the seriously flawed Ascendant Copper Corporation prospectus. This was one of the pre-requisite for the company listing on the Toronto and other Canadian Stock Exchanges. As you recalled, with support from Friends of Earth Canada and Mining Watch Canada, the law firm of HellerEhrman in the US, the Municipality of Cotacachi, and many others, we have be carrying on a campaign to pressure the Commission to have Ascendant list all of the potential and real risks involved with their mining project. While the prospectus now lists pages and pages of the risks of the project, may of which were not mentioned in the original, DECOIN believes the Commission Ok’d the prospectus without forcing the company to address some of the more substantial risks, such as the ongoing Congressional Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation.

Due to the campaign, the process of approval took four months, instead of the usual few weeks. The Prospectus was approved with several conditions; the main one being that they until January, to privately sell 4 million worth of stock to at least 300 investors. The Prospectus is the document all serious investors look at before buying stock in a business. Experts on Securities issues have told us that, due to the multiple risks involved in the project, they don’t see how it will ever get off the ground. The resistance at the community and local government level, plus the uncertainties of the legality of the mining concessions, are some of the most important obstacles they see as making it impossible for it ever to succeed. As a consequence of the approval, DECOIN is consulting with our allies as to the possibilities of presenting a lawsuit in Canada to stop the listing process.

Codegam Disrupts Parish Assembly in García Moreno
Yes, Codegam did it again. Led by their leader, Ronald Andrade, CODEGAM and some 50 or 60 followers violently forced their way into the García Moreno Assembly on Saturday the 29th of October. The Assembly had been organized by the Parish government of García Moreno to work on a development plan for the whole Parish, and only communities from the Parish and organizations working there were invited (DECOIN was one of them). Also present were organizations like Ayuda en Acción, and the International Observers. who were able to document the event.

CODEGAM not only invited and paid for the transportation for people from other Parishes to attend, but also saw fit to officially invite people to the Assembly, when this is strictly a responsibility of the Parish government.

When the president of the García Moreno Parish informed the crowd that only people from García Moreno would be allowed in, Andrade started yelling and inciting his followers to force their way in. The police who had been brought in precisely to control this kind of situation, did absolutely nothing to stop them. Even after the Parish president asked people not invited or from García Moreno to abandon the Assembly, CODEGAM refused to ask its members to leave. This recalls the time in April 2005 when CODEGAM violently forced their way in the Municipality of Cotacachi to disrupt a meeting between the Municipal authorities and Ascendant Copper.

After about one hour and much yelling and insults levelled at Parish officials, DECOIN members and foreigners (including the International Observers), the president of the Parish, Gisela Morales, in consultation with community leaders, decided to suspend the Assembly. The situation was so tense that at one time someone heard the head of the police delegation say that “we are getting out of here because this will get out of hand…” This is the police force that was brought in precisely to prevent violence and protect the people!

It is important to point out that CODEGAM is still financed by Ascendant Copper Corporation. Just what is Ascendant’s plans? If this is the type of organization and actions they are financing, what can Intag expect later on? Has Ascendant created a Frankeinstein? It seems so, and the information from reliable sources confirm that they are ready to turn against the company if it doesn’t meet a number of impossible conditions, contained in a October 26th letter addressed to Ascendant’s General Manager, Geovanni Rosanía.

The big loser? CODEGAM proved once again that they are a undemocratic, aggressive and violent entity, ready to violate laws in order to force their agenda on everyone else. Everyone there got a unique chance to see how this false community organization really works. If anything, people came away more convinced than ever of their anti-mining stance. Knowing Ascendant is financing CODEGAM, the other big loser is Ascendant and their whole mining plan. Everyone clearly identifies CODEGAM as being Ascendant’s local actor. Therefore, the backlash from Saturday’s event will have profound and lasting repercurssions for Ascendant Copper Corporation.

After the end of the Assembly, the President of the Parish, when interviewed by Intag Paper, said she believed that about 80% of the people present from García Moreno at the Assembly were clearly anti-mining. It’s especially relevant to highlight that CODEGAM had to bring in truck-loads of people from far away places and other Parishes to beef-up their anti-mining crowd. Even so, their numbers were clearly much less than half.

Intag Solidarity Network Web Page Up and Running
Finally! The Intag Solidarity Network web page is up and running…. Have a look at it, at: www.intagsolidarity.org

We want to thank and congratulate Glen Kuecker, Jake Gross and others at Depauw and Indiana University for their perseverance in building the site (It’s still under construction). If you’d like to get involved supporting some of the projects listed there, please get in touch. The site will carry our updates and those from the International Observers, plus other news from Intag, and will serve as a clearing house for those of you who want to get involved in helping to keep mining from destroying Intag and its communities.

And more….
In the next few weeks we will be focusing on making sure the illegal land titles in Ascendant’s hands are annulled. We’ll be supporting the communities most affected by the illegal land purchases. We are also working with a law firm in Quito to help us on this, and other legal challenges to Ascendant’s mining concessions.

The rains seem to finally have returned for real. We’ve had the driest year since we at La Florida started keeping records, 23 years ago. It’s great once again to be enveloped in clouds and our air cleaned by the life-giving rains.

In case you want to help, we presently need priority funding for:
The Legal Defense Fund
Helping the Community Development Council pay for a full time nurse in Chalguayacu Bajo

Thanks,
Carlos Zorrilla
La Florida, Intag

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