Around the Region

Cyanide-solution spill rekindles debate over mining in Argentina

The warnings of mining critics in Argentina proved prescient this month when a valve failure at Barrick Gold’s Veladero open-pit gold mine in San Juan province caused a cyanide spill on Sept. 13 in the Jáchal River watershed. Ensuing criticism of Barrick Gold is reverberating in Argentina not only because the spill has drawn a strong reaction from open-pit mining opponents, but also because the country is just weeks away from a presidential election. Making a campaign swing through San Juan on Sept. 24, Daniel Scioli, the front-runner to become president and a member of the party of current President Cristina Kirchner, said that despite the incident, Argentina should “continue forward” with mining. But another of the six candidates, Margarita Stolbizer, visited...

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Green groups prevail in fight over Mexican aqueduct plan

A US$3 billion project in Mexico to build an aqueduct serving the northern city of Monterrey is being canceled, a victory for the many conservation and citizen groups that opposed it. Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, who takes office as governor of the state of Nuevo León on Oct. 4, has said he will not extend the contract his predecessor signed with a private consortium when it expires this month. Environmental groups argued the 372-kilometer (231-mile) aqueduct was simply not necessary and said there were many other ways to assure the long-term water supply to Monterrey, the country’s third largest city. The incoming governor agreed. “We have other alternatives which would turn out to be much cheaper,” he said in a Sept. 16...

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Killing of Brazilian tribal leader puts spotlight on land conflicts

The Aug. 30 murder of a Brazilian tribal leader has rekindled concern about land conflicts here, particularly those that for decades have contributed to the high rate of assassinations and suicides among the victim’s people, the Guarani Kaiowá. The tribal leader, Semião Vilhalva, was killed during a clash with local cattle ranchers trying to run a group of Guarani Kaiowá off land earmarked as a new reservation for them. The Guarani Kaiowá, who inhabit the western state of Mato Grosso do Sul, have for decades accused Brazil’s government and courts of deliberately causing genocide by failing to provide their long-suffering tribe with ample land to inhabit. To drive that accusation home and to protest Vilhalva’s murder, a procession of some 30 tribal members carried...

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