15 June 2006

suspiros from patagonia

below find some words from mangolandia correspondent denali degraf (email available upon request) about his involvement, physical and spirititual in anti-mining efforts in his native patagonia:

sweet mother of all that is holy (as you would say, AMAZON)...


viz., my email of five minutes ago.  how does it occur to anyone, ANYONE that it could EVER be a good idea, anywhere, to dynamite a mountainside into a several-km-wide pit, grind it all up and pour cyanide solution over it?   i mean, really...


good lord.  so i've been becoming quite active in the Asamblea Comarcal contra el Saqueo.   what a great word, by the way, saqueo... must be related to sacking, in the sense of, "the visigoths sacked rome," and also to sacar.  but i favor pillaging, myself.  large assemblies of vecinos autoconvocados... lots of people speaking passionately about how this is a crime and we just can't let it happen, but also nobody has a bloody clue about anything... how to take on a canadian company, desde patagonia... we have no funds, we have no media on our side except (thanks heavens for their existence) FM ALAS, and radio nacional at least lets us speak our mind.    and of all those neighbors willing to truck out into the street with flags and banners and make their presence known (this did hit the media, at the provincial level), there are precious few of us who are willing to spend their "free" time heading down to lago puelo to get together and talk press strategy, for example, or go to the radio and help make public some of these goings-on, or find someplace for the next assembly to be held and make sure there are actually chairs for everyone when we get there.   to say nothing of going to the regional assembly in jacobacci last weekend—seven of us went, that was quite an accomplishment.  i spent exactly 70% of my total monetary assets prior to the trip on the bus and train tickets to get there.   that would be 50 pesos.  do the math for what i'm left with. 


and jesus.  jacobacci.  remember juanca, mapuche apprentice at ciesa who let my bread burn?   his territory.   jacobacci, town of 8000, surrounded by herder settlements out on the steppe, some of whom over 100 km away by dirt track across the scrubland.   lots of illiterate people, lots of people who've never gone anywhere else in their lives except maybe headed to bariloche once in a blue moon for some kind of extraordinary circumstance (like going to a hospital, though most people don't do that because by the time they would get there they'd be dead already.)   places where everyone lives off of the wool they shear from their sheep and the meat from selling lambs, there is no such thing as natural gas for heatingand since there aren't even any goddamn TREES, there's no firewood either and most people burn the horse dung they collect in order to heat the place.   20-below temperatures are commonplace in winter.  i mean, we're talking about the hardiest, most resistant, and most beaten-down people you can imagine.   nearly all of mapuche descent.   and this is where the canadians decide to do business.  the police harass the anti-mining organizers in the streets, poor claudia the 26-year-old who does the local news on the radio in the mornings does her best to educate people about the disasters the calcatreu mine project would bring, and as a result, when she leaves the radio at noon and goes to the grocer, the vegetable man refuses to speak to her.   after all, the mine is progress and jobs.  i don't know how many illiterate sheep-herders they think are going to be hired to do geological and dynamite work, but hey.   the truth is that there's no mine work going to be done around here anytime soon, the permission letters are so preliminary there's no risk in the immediate sense, but jacobacci, man, it's so intense, and they're right out there on the steppe.   and the company that has the permissions for el hoyo-epuyen, when you look on their website, this project doesn't even show up yet, but their major project at the moment is a pair of gold mines in north central el salvador.   and no, they're not at all far enough away from guarjila... and even if they were, they'd be too close to someone. 


so everywhere this is happening, and i log onto the mining company's website today and it's just so spiffy and clean and amerikan (even if it's canadian), and the big project on the website is "Calcatreu- Argentina", the graphic is a map highlighting argentina in the american continent.   as if to say, it's useless of us to show you a map of where jacobacci lies in argentina, since you probably barely know where argentina is on a globe, so we'll start big.   and there are all kinds of press releases and investment options, studies and figures and such, as if it were some kind of fiction... 6334 meters in 56 drill holes, finding 5.34 g/t Au (that is, 5 grams of gold per TON of raw material) in the Castro Sur site, feasibility studies for the extraction, samples being sent to australia, and so forth.   and nowhere do you get the sense that what they're talking about is REAL, that its a real meseta, real rocks they have to dig through, real water they're using, real people who are going to start drinking water laced with cyanide, real sheep who are going thirsty.   i mean, i look on the website and see a map that to 99.99999 percent of the people in the world is just some lines and names that mean nothing, but i was THERE, not four days ago.  


i don't know man.  that's what's on my mind.  and i think of you... "never forget you are a warrior."   well, the war is on, and it's been brought to our doorstep.  but the last thing anyone wants is to wage war.   as soraya once told me, "como hacemos para no hablar más de lucha?"   why can't we overturn the world order like we planned, by planting vegetables and building with mud and singing with children armed only with bamboo flutes.   world harmony through organic farming and music.   i'm so with you, man.  until now, we're here harmonizing our squash and our voices, and if we're not careful, both of them are going to end up with accumulated heavy metals.   i know, maybe i'm regressing to the basics in the whole "do we change the world through direct political action or slow education and lifestyle-changing activity?" but what the hell, man.   as much as we can opt for the latter, believe in it, work at it, throw our every atom towards it, at some point the former just shows up in your yard.   i have no eloquent reflections on the matter yet.   just nausea.  no, not true.  i also have this genuinely lovely sensation brought on by getting together with people i've never met and bonding passionately over our willingness to doanything to keep this destruction from being wrought upon us.   i mean, how else would i have ended up on a train to jacobacci last weekend with the motley crew that we were, spending the entire 5 hours debating the best way to completely overturn the argentine national mining code... truly, it was great.   invigorating, enlightening, and intellectually stimulating in a  way i have been lacking lately.  it has lit up an aspect of myself and my life that has barely had the pilot light on lately.   and for that i am grateful, and for that too i share this with you.


so that's that.  needed to put that out there.  truthfully, it's not nearly as important for me to actually send this message as it was to write it, but i'm sending it anyway.   even if you just write back with, "shit man, i know that must suck.   stick it out, in solidarity..." that'll help. 



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