UPDATE 21 Enero 07- Actualizaciones —

By , January 21, 2007
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resumen en español abajo-

ASCENDANT LOSES ANOTHER ONE

The presiding Superior Court judge in the alleged kidnapping of two Ascendant employees in September of 2006 threw out the court case for lack of evidence. The company had falsely accused Robinson Guachagmira and Alirio Ramirez of the alleged crime when the employees were held by community members after being caught inside communal lands. Robinson and Alirio were nowhere near the site of the supposed kidnapping, but were nevertheless picked up by a police travelling in a Ascendant Copper company car and illegally detained for 8 days in Ibarra, Imbabura’s capital. Mr Gary Davis, Ascendant’s CEO and president, at one time publicly stated that the two community members were found guilty and were in jail awaiting sentencing. Since the company earlier lost the lawsuit in a lower court, the January 20th Superior Court decision is final, without possibility of further appeal.

This key judicial defeat of the company comes after the October 2006 higher court decision to throw out the lawsuit for arson and destruction of property filed by the company for the destruction of its mining camp in December 2005 in Chalguayacu Alto. Likewise, the judges found lack of clear evidence to convict the five community activists charged, and ruled in the defendant’s case. Here too there is no appeal, since there was unanimity in the two court’s rulings.

ON THE GROUND, Ascendant has opted for not abiding by the Ministry of Energy and Mine’s stop-work orders, to halt its activities, and there are reports that up to 60 persons, supposedly being paid by Falericorp- the illegal company Ascendant hired to implement agricultural projects on some of its land- are continuing to work in land Ascendant claims is theirs. The presence of these individuals is greatly exacerbating tensions in the area. The communities have successfully maintained a road block in the Chalguayacu Bajo area to keep company employees from accessing the mining concessions (this is a different road block than the original one established a few kilometers away and closer to Junin)

NEW PEOPLE IN POWER. On Thursday, January 18th, a delegation composed by the Mayor of Cotacachi County, the president of the Parish-township government Association of Intag, the president of CEDHU (human-rights organization); as well as representatives from Intag’s communities and organizations, met with Alberto Acosta, the new Ministry of Energy and Mines to discuss the present situation in Intag, and to try to find a solution. The Ministry expressed concerned by the tense situation created by the presence of workers in Ascendant’s lands and was clearly upset by the non-compliance by the company of the stop-work orders. He promised to find a short-term solution to the problems.

Ascendant pierde en la corte de nuevo
Este viernes, 19 de enero Ascendant perdió el juicio contra los dos campesinos acusados de plagiar a dos empleados de la empresa en Septiembre del 2006. La Corte Superior concordó con la corte inferior en no encontrar suficientes pruebas, por lo que no hay apelaciones!! En Octubre de este año Ascendant también perdió el juicio contra los 5 activistas comunitarios acusados de incendiar el campamento minero de Ascendant en Diciembre del 2005. Al igual que el caso por plagio, en este tampoco hay apelación.

La comunidades, mientras tanto, mantienen la carretera bloqueada para la empresa en Chalguayacu Bajo desde hace 3 semanas, pero hay reportes que hasta 60 personas contratadas por la ilegal FALERICORP (ver blog anterior), trabajan varias propiedades de Ascendant en el sector de Junin y Cerro Pelado. Esto, a pesar que el Ministerio de Energía y Minas le ordenó a Ascendant parar toda actividad hasta que cuente con el Estudio de Impacto Ambiental aprobado. Falericorp, al igual que Honor y Laurel y otras empresas contratadas por Ascendant, fue declarada ilegal por el Ministerio de Trabajo el 9 de Enero al no haber cumplido con los requisitos de funcionamiento en el país, y le ordenó que deje de prestar servicios a otras empresas.

Una delegación conformada por el Alcalde de Cotacachi, el presidente de las Juntas Parroquiales de Intag, más representantes de organizaciones de derechos humanos (CEDHU), y de comunidades y organizaciones de la zona de Intag se reunieron con el nuevo Ministro de Energía y Minas el 18 de enero para buscar una solución a la peligrosa situación que se presentan en Intag por la presencia de personal de Falericorp que laboran ilegalmente en propieades que la empresa dice ser suyas. Alberto Acosta, el nuevo Ministro, se comprometió en buscar una solución al problema a corto plazo.

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