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Protesters disrupt construction over First Nations burial ground on islet off Saltspring Island

By Sarah Petrescu - Vancouver Sun, August 27, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

‘You would never do this to your ancestors,’ chief tells workers

The sharp roar of saws and a generator coming from a construction site on Grace Islet Tuesday morning was too much for Tseycum Chief Vern Jacks.

After paddling in the Cowichan Tribes big canoe over to the small island in Ganges Harbour on Saltspring Island, where a luxury home is being built over a First Nations burial ground, he stood on the shore and yelled to the workers: “You would never do this to your ancestors. Think about your kids, your family.”

About two dozen protesters came in canoes and kayaks, and some even swam. Cowichan elder Arvid Charlie said his community members have ancestors buried on the islet and referred to it as mim’kw’e’lu, which means gravesite in Hul’qumi’num.

Within a few minutes some of the protesters — including Jacks, Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt, NDP MLA Gary Holman and organizer Joe Akerman — decided to breach the gated construction site and go inside. The group followed, walking around the concrete foundation and burial cairns encased in plywood where builders were at work.

“I’m just a contractor. You’re being disrespectful doing this,” David Yager, of West Terra Projects, said to the small crowd, which included several children.

As tension rose, protesters held hands along the site and began to sing a rendition of Amazing Grace: “Amazing grace is sacred ground, washed by wind and sea, where ancestors are laid to rest for all eternity.”

The generator and a radio blaring Whitesnake rock songs were momentarily turned off.

Jacks thanked the workers for understanding. “We’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” he said. “This place means a lot to First Nations.”

Two RCMP officers soon arrived and began to photograph the protesters before speaking with them.

“I’m sorry that it came to this today, but all else has failed,” said Holman, addressing the officers.

“The question I have for the RCMP is, where were you when the law was broken here two years ago?” he asked, referring to construction that violated the site permits issued by the B.C. archeology branch.

Grace Islet was purchased in 1990 by Alberta businessman Barry Slawsky. His plans to build a retirement home were stalled by the discovery of ancient remains and burial cairns in 2006.

Despite the 2012 permit violation and increasing public concern about construction on the documented burial site, Slawsky has been given the go-ahead to continue building by the provincial body responsible for protecting ancient remains under the Heritage Act.

“I can’t condone trespassing, but have to point out this is what’s going to happen if government does nothing,” Holman later said. “… There’s a clear way out of this: Compensate the owner and protect the islet.”

Tuesday’s protest comes a few days after the province met with local chiefs, including Jacks, about the controversial islet. They plan to speak again on possible resolutions.

Tribal Reps Air Concerns Over Proposed Nuclear Plant

Eric Trenbeath - Moab Sun News, August 20, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Tribal representatives from the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT), as well as from the Ute and Goshute tribes, expressed their concerns about a proposed nuclear power plant near Green River at a public meeting that took place at the Moab Arts and Recreation Center (MARC) on Monday, August 18.

Close to 50 local residents turned out to hear what they had to say.

The representatives traveled from as far away as Parker, Ariz., to gather information, tour the site of the proposed nuclear facility, and to express their concerns about river contamination and water over-consumption on the Green River, the largest tributary of the Colorado River.

“I have concerns about this,” CRIT council representative Johnny Hill said. “Our water is very precious. It's more precious than gold. This is our agriculture, our income, our beef, our chicken, our food.”

CRIT is a geo-political organization made up of four separate Indian tribes who live on the Colorado River Indian Reservation that straddles the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California. Agriculture makes up a large portion of their economy, and it is dependent on irrigation water from the Colorado River.

“Taking care of this river is very important to us,” CRIT council representative Amanda Barrera said. “We hold seniority rights to it. We are here to educate ourselves and take information back to our people.”

Forrest Cuch, a Ute Indian from the Uintah Basin, said he came down, “to join my native brothers and sisters to oppose the nuclear power plant.”

Cuch said that he has already seen too much destruction from the oil and gas industry in the Uintah Basin, and that the risk for catastrophe with a nuclear power plant is too high.

“They had the ocean in Fukishima,” he said. “Imagine polluting the Colorado River.”

TransCanada Faces United Front in South Dakota: Tribes and Landowners Say NO KXL

Staff Report - Native News Online, August 21, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

IHANKTONWAN, SOUTH DAKOTA – ­ TransCanada faces yet another hurdle in its effort to build the Keystone XL pipeline. A coalition of long­existing pipeline fighters in South Dakota have come together to extend their share division of protecting the land, the water and the peoples of the area. An alliance of Protect the Sacred Movement of the Ihanktonwan/Yankton; the Bridger Spiritual Camp, Pte Ospaye; the Lower Brule Spiritual Camp, Wiconi Un Tipi; the Rosebud Spiritual Camp, Oyate Wahacanka Woecun; Dakota Rural Action; and the Indigenous Environmental Network are launching No KXL Dakota, a united effort to fight the Keystone XL pipeline.

Before TransCanada can build within state borders, the company must certify its permit, proving it still meets the original permit conditions. The coalition is preparing to fight the permit certification at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, and expects the company to file for certification this year.

“Oceti Rising,” says Faith Spotted Eagle, with Protect the Sacred, “is reaffirming our sovereignty as nations and strengthening our protection of Mother Earth. Water is life, Mni Wiconi. Oceti means fire and could also represent unity between non Native and Natives in protecting their homefires.”

We Do Not Want to be Slaves in Our Own Land

By Mining Slave | The National aka The Loggers Times - Papua New Guinea Mine Watch, August 22, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

I WISH to express my views and concerns about expats being the lawmakers of PNG.

I am a mine worker and worked with most expats during my years in several underground mines for the last 10 to 20 years.

I have noticed that they seem to be above the laws of this country which the department of foreign affairs has put in place to guide those expats who later become elected leaders in PNG.

There are also regulations where the departments of mining and petroleum have put in place to guide both expats and PNG nationals.

Most expats come into the country to work, they bring in their family members and use the nationals to train them and in return, they start to criticise and threaten us to get us sacked.

For instance, if a national supervisor makes a single mistake or does not want to follow an idea of an expat to get a job done which is unsafe, they start to kick him or her out because they come in groups and once it comes to decision making, they all come in to compromise in favour of one single expat, even the so-called manager falls into his favour.

The correct procedure is, the expat or national supervisors should contribute ideas to get a job done safely, or if the expat’s ideas are unproductive, the nationals use their own ideas so the job is done safely because in any mine you go around the world, safety is the number one priority.

Please, can the departments or foreign affairs and immigration or our leaders look into this issue because we do not want to be slaves in our own land or spectators of resource development on our land.

We have enough experienced underground miners.

Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports

Press Release - Wild Idaho Rising Tide, August 16, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

On Saturday, August 16, and during the previous week, grassroots groups are holding a coordinated day of peaceful actions, to protest the passage of coal trains through interior Northwest communities [1, 2].  From Montana and Wyoming to Oregon and Washington, proposals to bring more polluting coal trains through the region impact dozens of communities along rail lines, who are organizing to protect their towns from coal exports.  This summer, 350-Missoula, Blue Skies Campaign, Indian People’s Action, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and other organizations are together catalyzing this movement against dirty energy in new and bolder ways, evident in this regional day of action.

As inland Northwest citizens largely dismissed by the federal and state regulatory processes that determine the fate of three proposed coal export facilities at Cherry Point and Longview, Washington, and Boardman, Oregon, we stand in solidarity with Northwest tribes and climate activists resisting these West Coast ports and Powder River Basin coal mines that despoil native lands and watersheds and ultimately global climate [3].  While Oregon agencies deliberate their possible issuance of key permits allowing financially risky, Australia-based Ambre Energy to begin construction on the controversial Morrow Pacific coal train terminal dock and warehouses at Boardman, we support friends among the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, who rejected  the companies’ bribes of up to $800,000 per year to partner in and benefit from building this Coyote Island Terminal and shipping 8.8 million tons of coal per year down the Columbia River [4, 5].

Residents of four states will continue to work to stop coal exports by every means, including arrestable, nonviolent civil disobedience, as we pressure coal and railroad companies and political officials who support them.  With our protests, we honor the 71 brave Northwest activists who have endured arrest and citation during occupations of coal train tracks and public buildings in Bellingham, Washington (December 2011), White Rock, British Columbia (May 2012), Helena, Montana (August 2012 and September 2013), Spokane, Washington (June 2013), and Missoula, Montana (April 2014), as interior Northwest groups further coordinate regional demonstrations resisting coal export that started in January 2013 [6, 7].

First Nations protesters block workers’ access to another Imperial Metals mine

By Amy Judd - Global News, August 9, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

VANCOUVER – The disaster at the Mount Polley Mine will have long-term consequences for years to come across the whole of the mining industry but specifically for Imperial Metals – the owners of the Cariboo mine and a major resource company in B.C.

Earlier this week the company took a huge hit on its stock price and on Friday, near Dease Lake at the Red Chris Mine, First Nations members blocked access to employees.

Red Chris is a five-hundred million dollar gold operation that has been front and center in B.C.’s resource sector for a decade.

Indigenous Resistance Grows Strong in Keystone XL Battle

By Crysbel Tejada and Betsy Catlin - Waging Nonviolence, May 8, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

On cloudy days, heavy smoke fills the air of Ponca City, Okla., with grey smog that camouflages itself into the sky. The ConocoPhillips oil refinery that makes its home there uses overcast days as a disguise to release more toxins into the air. These toxins are brimming with benzene — a chemical that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can cause leukemia, anemia and even decrease the size of women’s ovaries. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2008 the ConocoPhillips refinery released over 2,000 pounds of this chemical into the air in Ponca City.

“Of the maybe 800 of us that live locally, we have averaged over the last five to seven years maybe one funeral a week,” explained Casey Camp-Horinek, a Ponca woman and longtime activist. “Where we used to have dances every week, now most people are in mourning.”

The refinery is located only 1,000 yards behind Standing Bear Park, which is named after the Ponca chief who, in 1877, led his people on their Trail of Tears, from the Ponca homelands in northern Nebraska to present day Oklahoma. But the park is more than a memorial to the distant past. In 1992, the oil giant’s tank farm spilled and contaminated ground water in a nearby predominantly Ponca neighborhood. As a result, ConocoPhillips agreed to purchase the contaminated land and tear down the 200 homes that were on it. In its place, the company built Standing Bear Park — a bitter testament to the Ponca people’s history of forced relocation and genocide.

“We live in a situation that could only be described as environmental genocide,” said Camp-Horinek. Beyond the refineries, she explained, “We also have had the misfortune of living on top of a spider web of pipelines as a result of ConocoPhillips being here.”

Some of these pipelines are transporting Canadian tar sands bitumen, which carries chemicals such as natural gas, hydrogen sulfide, benzene and toluene. This highly toxic diluted substance runs through large pipelines such as Enbridge’s Pegasus line, which recently burst in Mayflower, Ark., and would also flow through TransCanada’s contested Keystone XL pipeline if completed.

“It will not only come through the original territory of the Ponca people [but] it will follow the Trail of Tears of the Ponca people from the 1800s,” said Camp-Horinek. “As a Ponca woman these things are not far removed from us. My own grandfather, my mother’s father, was on this Trail of Tears of the Ponca.”

Peru Passes a Packet of Neoliberal Reforms, Erodes Environmental Protections and Labor Rights

By Lynda Sullivan - Upsidedown World, July 25, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The Peruvian Congress approved a packet of laws on July 3 which critics say subjects the country to neoliberal reforms that threaten to undermine environmental and labor protections and is a gift to the extractive industry.

The Minister of Economy and Finance Luis Miguel Castilla first presented to Congress on this packet of laws on June 25 in order for them to be debated and approved. This has led to an outcry by civil society,[1] as many have compared this law bundle to the neoliberal ‘paquetazos’ of the 1980s and 90s by the previous governments of Alan Garcia and Alberto Fujimori governments. President Ollanta Humala rejects this criticism.[2]

The term ‘paquetazo’ refers to a large bundle of laws supposedly aimed at reinvigorating the economy. In the days of the Garcia and Fujimori governments, the introduction of these paquetazos usually lead to hyperinflation, currency devaluation, extreme price hikes, and an increase in social conflicts and police repression.[3] President Humala’s current attempt to reinvigorate the economy centers round removing any obstacles for investing companies (mainly in the extractive industries), which critics say will irreversibly damage the environment and fuel more social unrest.

Despite the outcries and protests, the packet was approved with surprising ease.[4] Two of the few congress members to vote against the package were Verónika Mendoza and Rosa Mavila. Mendoza pleaded that, minimally, the chapter on the theme of the environment should be debated, revised, and corrected by the Commission of Indigenous People and the Environment. Mavila opposed the chapter on the environment and the rest of the reforms, because “it is a vision of total guarantee for extractive capitalism and nothing for the Peruvians, nothing for the people, and nothing for the workers.”[5]

Is This US Coal Giant Funding Violent Union Intimidation in Colombia?

By Rosalind Adams - Center for Public Integrity, July 22, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

BOGOTA, Colombia — Cesar Florez is often hesitant to answer his phone because there might be another death threat at the end of the line. Sometimes the threat comes in a phone call, other times in a text message or an email. In April, flyers were posted in the restroom stalls at Florez’s workplace, declaring him and his colleagues “permanent military targets.”

Until last month, Florez served as a local president of Sintramienergetica, a labor union in Colombia that represents the employees of Drummond Company, a U.S.-based coal-mining firm, in a country known for some of the world’s most severe violence against union leaders. Florez has been a Drummond employee for 17 years and active in the union for the last 14. Most recently, he worked as a marine operations technician in Drummond’s port near Santa Marta, where its coal is shipped out on barges.

But his position as a union leader has also meant he’s attracted a significant number of threats, including attempts on his life, which happen to spike around labor disputes, he said. In July 2013 the union went on strike, calling for a pay raise and to move from an hourly wage to a salary, among other demands. For 53 days the strike wore on amid tense negotiations, while the threats that Florez and his colleagues received only accelerated.

“They said if we didn’t lift the strike we’d be a target,” Florez said, describing some of the phone calls he received. “They said they already knew where my family was.”

Many of the written threats that Florez received bear the watermark of Los Rastrojos Comandos Urbanos, an active paramilitary group with ties to drug trafficking.

The Center for Public Integrity made numerous attempts to reach Drummond for comment on allegations that it has used the group to try to intimidate Sintramienergetica leaders like Florez; a spokesman said he could not respond to any questions on the matter. In a recent statement, the company’s lawyers asserted, “Drummond has never paid or otherwise assisted any illegal group in Colombia, whether paramilitary or guerilla [sic].”

Nonetheless, Drummond has been named in several lawsuits alleging financial ties to paramilitary groups since the mid-1990s.

Drummond — a closely held company based in Birmingham, Alabama, with revenues that reached $3 billion last year—has helped Colombia become the world’s fourth-largest coal exporter. Heman Drummond started the business in 1935 on the backs of mules that were used to haul loads of coal from its mines in Alabama. Under the leadership of his son, Garry, the company expanded, securing a contract to extract coal in La Loma, in the Cesar Department of Northeast Colombia in the late 1980s.

While its Colombian operations quickly became a significant revenue stream for the company, security issues and labor disputes have always been substantial obstacles for Drummond’s business. And, according to its workers, intimidation has become routine in a country where trade union leaders are often viewed as subversives.

Alliance for Global Justice Statement on the Detention of Gregorio “Goyo” Santos, President of the Region of Cajamarca, Peru

Press Release - Alliance for Global Justice, June 30, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

The Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) condemns the preventive incarceration of Gregorio “Goyo” Santos Guerrero, President of the Region of Cajamarca, Peru (analogous to a US governor). Goyo’s election in 2010 was the result of a mass mobilization of the region’s voters. It reflected a popular struggle against the proposed Conga gold mine involving an alliance of miners, teachers, farmers, unionists and indigenous communities. These maintain the gold mine will export not only gold but mega-profits, with little social investment or sustainable economic development. They also point out that the mine’s best jobs are being given to outsiders, while there are few local financial benefits. Cajamarca is the second poorest region in Peru. The Conga mine is a collaboration between the Denver-based Newmont Mining Corporation, Buenaventura (Peru) and the International Monetary Fund. Newmont holds a 51.35% controlling interest.

The Conga mine is an expansion of the twenty year old Yanacocha mine, Latin America’s largest gold mine. That mine has already had devastating consequences for the local ecosystem and residents. The Yanacocha mine completely dried up an ancient lake and decimated and polluted the main water supply leading into the capital city of Cajamarca. In 2000 the spill of more than 330 pounds of mercury being carried by Yanacocha trucks poisoned over 900 residents of Choropampa, leaving behind a legacy of death, sickness and deformity. The Conga project would be three times the size of Yanacocha and threatens the system of highland lakes and waterways that are the area’s main source of irrigation for local farms and drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents.

Goyo was elected because of his outspoken opposition to the Conga project, and because of his proposals in favor of diversified economic development and funding human needs. Since assuming office, he has not wavered in these priorities and has used his position to strengthen the struggle in the streets. This struggle has caused repeated setbacks for Conga and has impeded the mine’s construction. As an alternative, Goyo has proposed investment in sustainable farming and aquaculture, agro-industrial capabilities, and eco-tourism. For this he has been the victim of a steady stream of slanders and attacks on the part of the national government, Newmont and its partners, and the corporate media. Since 2011, Goyo has been the target of 38 prosecution cases. Of these, 35 have already been dismissed due to lack of evidence.

Goyo is now being charged with taking bribes in exchange for 11 public works contracts. No evidence for this has been made public by prosecutors. Meanwhile, Goyo is in the midst of his reelection campaign. The assertion that Goyo represents a flight risk is ridiculous. This detention is clearly a political ploy to stop his campaign and undermine the will of the people.

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