Conference Papers

In Defense of Life: The Oppressed Organize Against Mega-Mining in Argentina









Abstract:  “Since 2006, when the Canadian corporation Barrick Gold first received authorization to start exploring the Famatina hills for gold and uranium, the people have been organizing themselves to protect their livelihoods, the hills and the glacier located in the Department of Famatina, in the Argentinean Province of La Rioja. Vecinos de Famatina Autoconvocados en Defensa de la Vida (Famatina’s Self-Convened Residents in Defense of Life), Coordinadora de Asambleas Ciudadanas por la Vida de Chilecito (Chilecito’s Coordination of Citizens Assemblies for Life), Vecinos Autoconvocados de Chañarmuyo (Chañarmuyo’s Self-Convened Residents), Vecinos Autoconvocados de Pituil (Pituil’s Self-Convened Residents) and Vecinos Autoconvocados de Los Sauces (Los Sauces’ Self-Convened Residents ) – these are some of the names of the many people’s assemblies that have been organized to resist the onslaught of mining companies. Their united slogan is: El Famatina no se toca (Don’t touch Famatina).

The people of one of the poorest regions of Argentina – humble, common people – have so far been able to stop large, powerful, transnational corporations, which have closely worked with national and provincial governments supported by corporative media and other powerful institutions: first Barick Gold, recently Osisko Mining Corporation. The transformation of these common people into a political force involved the construction of a new critical consensus (Dussel, 2012), the consensus of the social bloc of the oppressed (Gramsci, 1975). Such construction has been achieved in the space of horizontal autonomous organizations (the assemblies), in public demonstrations (often repressed with violence), in the meetings of the Unión de Asambleas Ciudadanas (Unions of Citizens Assemblies), as well as in the constant awareness and recognition that the struggle will last forever – the mountain will always be there, full of precious metals; therefore, its defense will last the life time of the current activists and go beyond the present generation.In this paper we will present and discuss the people’s struggle to protect Famatina against transnational mining corporations and their allies through the lens of Enrique Dussel’s philosophy of liberation. To make our argument more understandable for those unfamiliar with the context of Latin American philosophy, we will introduce Dussel’s propositions first, and then present and discuss the case of Famatina in the light of his philosophy of ethics and politics. The data presented here was collected from documents produced by the “Argentinean communities of NO”, a designation provided by Antonelli (2011, p.7) to identify the “network of environmental and citizens’ asambleas (assemblies) as well as other actors who oppose mega-mining projects and share the same “ethical values, epistemic evaluations, and the promotion of citizens’ consciousness disseminating the discourse of NO by different means (professionals, academics, media etc.)”. We have also used data collected during a field trip in August 2012, when we visited Chilecito and the roadblock at El Carrizal, conducting in-depth interviews with a range of activists. Excerpts from these interviews are in italics, making it easy to identify them without repeating the reference. The pictures we took during the research trip will also be presented without specifying the source.”
More Info: Misoczky, M.C. and Böhm. S. (2013) ‘In Defense of Life: The Oppressed Organize Against Mega-Mining in Argentina’, In Conference Proceedings of the 8th International Conference in Critical Management Studies; 10-12 July, The University of Manchester.