In a shocking turn, a small town in Columbia has just proven once more that capitalism doesn’t have to always come first.
Residents of Cajamarca have proven this by turning down a proposed $35 billion gold mine, prefering environmental health to the riches the mine might have brought.
A stunning 98% of Cajamarca residents voted no to the mine – a fact Columbian Mining Minister German Arce doesn’t seem too happy about.
The La Colosa mine, proposed by South African company AngloGold Ashanti, could have become the largest in South America, and the Columbian national goverment was in favor of it, saying mining is a vital economic resource for the depressed Columbian economy.
As the BBC notes, though, of the 19,000 residents, only 76 voted in favor of the mine – compared to 6,1000 residents who wanted nothing to do with the environmental degradation such a mine would have brought to their mountainsides and streams.
As one local, 21-year-old student Camila Mendez, said,
“I voted no for the future generations. I have two nephews of seven and three years old. Even though they do not live in Cajamarca, I know that I want them to enjoy the little I’ve been able to enjoy so far, as it concerns the countryside.
If we win…we’d show the complete world that Cajamarca is able to defeat a huge multinational enterprise, a mining monster as AngloGold Ashanti.”
Of course, the vote may not matter – as Arce seems determined to see the mine built. According to Arce, the national government controls underground riches, and AngloGold Ashanti already has been given an exploratory license. As a result, this could be a battle in the courts, between local and national authorities, for Cajamarca’s environmental resources.
The people have spoken – but will their government hear them? Sadly, that seems to be an all too common question these days.