UPDATE 7 MARCH 2006
New Setbacks for Ascendant
The Frankenstein Factor
The 24 Hour Arrest Warrants
On Thursday, March 2nd, community members detained 3 employees of Daimi Services in Chalguayacu Bajo and were taken to Junin. Daimi is the public relations company hired by Ascendant to, supposedly, socialize their Environmental Impact Statement and get the Social Licence from communities. They were retained not only to protest the presence of the company, but also to pressure Daimi officials to meet with Junin where they wanted to officially tell them they were not wanted.
The police sent their elite team (the equivalent of SWAT) to the rescue, and after the communities explained why they had taken this measure actually sympathized with what they were doing. One of the police said in the future they would not be wasting their time rescuing company employees. They were released completely unharmed on Thursday, and there were no arrests.
On Tuesday of that same week DAIMI Services’ medical team tried to go into Barcelona to, supposedly, offer free medical services. Everyone by now knows DAIMI’s real objective is to try and socialize the Environmental Impact Statement, a prerequisite to continued mining activities in Intag. However, they were met at Barcelona’s road block and told they were not wanted and to turn around. As word went out to other colleagues and from several other communities of their presence via walkie talkies they became nervous and agreed to leave. They were lucky. The anti-mining sentiment is very strong in communities in this area.
Two days later, and coinciding with the same day of the detention of the Daimi employees in Chalguayacu Bajo, a known land trafficker suspected of selling land to the company was stopped at the same Barcelona road block. They were travelling in a brand-new double cabin pick-up truck that had no licence. Some people are convinced the car belongs to the mining company.
This unsavory individualis known to be trying to get his hands, illegally, on at least 600 hectares of forests belonging, to the Junin community, which sits right over the bulk of the mineralized zone. He was accompanied by an official of the Ministry of the Environment from Ibarra and were supposedly on routine inspection of another piece of land. On their way back from the inspection they were stopped. Since they could not correctly explain what they were doing, word went out quickly to other communities of their presence. At the same time, and for some mysterious reason, all four of the car’s tires were punctured. Both individuals decided it was a better idea to abandon the brand-new car, and left on foot. This was Thursday. As of yesterday (Monday 6th), they had not returned.
All in all a bad week for Ascendant.
Administrative legal processes were presented against the Ascendant Copper Corporation 10 days ago. One seeks to force the company to reveal information they have not reveal to the public regarding their activities in Intag and Ecuador (the Habeas Data). Another administrative legal process against the mining project used a new strategy to annul Ascendant’s mining concessions. It is based on a violation of a legal requirement contained in the mining regulation. Both are still pending.
Last week DECOIN’s Carlos Zorrilla had to testify before the equivalent of the District Attorney’s office in Ibarra in response to a new accusation by Ascendant claiming he was the brains behind the burning down of Ascendant mining camp in Chalguayacu Bajo on December 10th 2006. Four or five individuals that Carlos doesn’t even know told the Attorney that he is responsible for organizing the people against the mining project. One even went so far as saying Carlos was behind the torching of the Mitsubishi mining camp in 1997! Needless to say they are absurd accusations, and probably indicative of Ascendant’s displeasure at having its shares lose 45% of their value (about 22 million dollars) the past few months, partly due to Carlos’ reporting of the anti-mining activities and factual news that has hurt the company’s image. That, and the flawed logic that makes them think that if they get rid of Carlos the resistance to the project will come to an end. To justify the ludicrous accusation, the company presented copies of updates like this one taken from our web site, decoin.org. Previously, the company had put in an official request asking the Ministry of Foreign Relations to investigate Carlos.
CODEGAM and the Frankenstein Factor.
The company doesn’t quite know what to do with its monster these days. After more than a year of happy co-existence, CODEGAM has now turned against their creator. Why? The story is a bit complicated, but it can boil down to,,,, MONEY and bad press. The company publicly has stated it was not happy with some of CODEGAM’s actions (such as storming a Municipality meeting being held with the company), and they were being cut off economically. Then, Ascendant hired DAIMI Services to take over some of the things CODEGAM was supposed to be doing. Add to this the fact that a while back the company, along with CODEGAM, were offering all kinds of public projects, such as road building, new schools, bridges over major rivers, football stadiums, computers in every school room, new homes, and on and on. So, many people are upset that the great majority of these things were never completed- and they now see these false promises for what they really are. As a consequence, even in their previous stronghold of the town of Garcia Moreno Ascendant and DAIMI are personas non-grata. The rejection to both companies is such that they had to move their operations out of Garcia Moreno and to the village of Villadorita- about 40 minutes from Garcia Moreno, further away from their mining concessions! The honeymoon is over.
Meeting on the 12th. Ascendant and Dami have organized a meeting in the village of Chalguayacu Alto this coming Sunday, 12th of March to. The main objective is to do what they haven’t so far been able to do in the communities most affected by the mining project: socialize the Environmental Impact Statement. It is interesting to note that, from the information we’ve received, they have invited community members from areas completely outside the mining concessions. It is also telling that they chose to meet in a town that is technically outside their mining concessions. This is because there is not a single village or town within their mining concession where they could hold this meeting. If they are dreaming that this meeting will satisfy the legal requirements for socializing the Environmental Impact Statement, they are in for a big disappointment.
We confirmed yesterday that Ascendant Copper was able to get arrest warrants issued against five community activists as a result of the collective action taken by members of four communities in the area. The activists come from the following communities: Chalguayacu Bajo, Chalguayacu Alto, Junin and La Armenia.
No one is under arrest and the lawyer for the activists has said by Monday the warrants will be annuled since the legal basis is highly flawed and contains false information.
(10 March) We confirmed today that arrest warrants for five community activists from four communities were issued for the collective action taken against DAIMI personnel on Thursday 2nd of March by close to one hundred persons from Chalguayacu Bajo, Chalguayacu Alto, La Armenia and Junin.
The warrants were issued against Polivio Perez, Alirio Ramirez, Justino Ramirez, Luis Torres, and Oscar Cultid. They are a special warrant good only for 24 hours and meant to force the accused to testify before the prosecutor. The warrants mentions one person who was 20 kilometers away from Junin at the time of the detentions… And, there are other irregularities with the flawed legal arguments.
The warrants were the work of Ascendant Copper Corporation, though none of their personnel were involved in the community action. We understand that the report from law officials (teniente) do not classify the action as kidnapping or anything of the sort, and there’s no indication whatsoever the persons detained by the community were in any way hurt.
We also just heard that Ascendant has claimed they did NOT have the OK FROM THE MINISTER OF ENERGY AND MINES until the other day to carry out their work socializing the Environmental Impact Study. They had claimed earlier that this is what Daimi had been doing since January or February. There is no independent confirmation that either Daimi or Ascendant really does have the Ok to carry out their socializatin plans.