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Dr. Maurice Schroeder, OMI Honored with Doctoral Degree September 16th, 2012
The University of Waterloo conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree on Dr. Maurice Schroeder, OMI, on June 14th, 2012. Dr. Schroeder, a medical doctor, was recognized for his global citizenship work and, in particular, his leadership of a mission hospital in the Amazon Basin of northeastern Peru. The hospital has served over 20,000 mostly indigenous people living in villages along the Napo River.
US Congress holds Hearings on Peru and Bangladesh July 20th, 2012JPIC staff and summer fellow Fr Stephen Ashoki OMI (Sri Lanka) attended Hearings in the US Congress on Peru and Bangladesh. Both countries have a strong Oblate presence.
“Poison Harvest: Deadly U.S. Mine Pollution in Peru.”
“This is a matter of grave concern, not just to the citizens and residents of La Oroya and of Peru, but of the world and, in particular, the United States,” – Testimony to U.S. Congress by Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru.
This week, on July 19, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing on the mining contamination by Renco Group, a U.S. based company, which is operating in La Oroya, Peru. The hearing was entitled “Poison Harvest: Deadly U.S. Mine Pollution in Peru.” Those invited to testify included Archbishop Pedro Barreto of the Archdiocese of Huancayo, Peru and Rosa Amaro, President of the Movement for the Health of La Oroya. Also giving testimony were Dr. Fernando Serrano from St. Louis University School of Public Health and Keith Slack representing Oxfam America.
The hearing focused on the environmental damage in small town of La Oroya by Doe Run Peru, with testimonies from local community leaders, faith leader and NGOs. Doe Run is the Latin American affiliate of the Renco. Doe Run Peru is accused of being responsible for the health problems of the people in La Oroya especially children suffering from severe lead poisoning, and the environmental contamination affecting the area. Members of Congress strongly condemned Doe Run Peru for the environmental damage and promised to bring up the issue through the United States and Peruvian Free Trade Agreement (FTA) engagement. In addition to these solidarity actions, the JPIC office also attended a meeting at the Embassy of Peru with the Ambassador about human rights issues. In the light of the state violence against indigenous peoples protesting various mining operations in Peru, the JPIC office has signed onto NGO letters calling for respect of human rights in that country.
Bangladesh Human Rights
Earlier in the day another important congressional briefing was held focusing on the Human Rights Situation in Bangladesh. The United States is the largest investor in Bangladesh. However, there is an alarming human rights situation, with a number of recent extrajudicial killings and threats to labor activists. Leading international labor and Human Rights organizations are urging the United States government to use its influence to raise these concerns with the Government of Bangladesh. Those who perpetuate this violence, particularly certain national security operations, must be brought to justice. Since January 2012, Bangladesh has seen 34 victims of extrajudicial killings; the most recent being the killing of Bangladeshi labor leader Aminul Islam. Other issues raised during the hearing include the status for the millions of Burmese Refugees in Bangladesh, child labor in the garment industry, and unsafe working conditions in general. The U.S Government was also challenged to support Bangladesh civil society.
Religious and Civil Society Groups Challenge Violent Repression of Peruvian Mining Protests July 12th, 2012
The Oblates JPIC Office joined a broad array of civil society and religious groups expressing serious concern to the Peruvian government about the “alarming escalation in the repression of free speech, police brutalities, and human rights violations” in the country, largely related to mining activities. Indigenous communities, whose water supplies and way of life are threatened by the mining developments, have refused their consent to such projects. The government’s response has been heavy-handed, with the death of five people since the beginning of July 2012, and numerous injuries. The international groups resolved to continue to monitor and publicize developments, and asked the government to:
- Immediately halt the repression and violent attacks against protestors.
- Lift the “State of Emergency” that violates citizen rights and has led to the militarization of the region, with the potential to lead to additional acts of violence.
- Immediately undertake an independent investigation into the brutal arrest of Father Marco Arana and the intimidation of other leaders of the opposition to the Conga project.
- Adopt a mandate of community consent prior to all extractive industry projects, as the lack of consent is the largest driver of social conflicts in Peru.
Protect the Amazon for the Achuar May 25th, 2012
Two Oblates are working among the Achuar people who live in the Peruvian Amazon. They have been holding meetings with the people to get to know their culture, their traditions and to learn from them about their relationship to the land. The Achuar don’t celebrate Earth Day once a year, every day is EARTH DAY.
Their life is deeply connected to their land and nature. What a sad day it would be to lose all they have learnt from the land and not hear again the sound of the birds and enjoy this lush forest and beautiful waterfall that inspires dreams. Petrol companies would destroy this natural beauty and the ways of life of this peaceful loving people forever.
Watch and share an award winning documentary about the life of the Achuar and their work to protect their land from oil exploration. Meet Chumpi, a young indigenous Achuar boy from Chicherta Village in the remote headwaters of an Amazon tributary deep in the Peruvian rainforest.
Shareholders, NGOs, raise questions about Newmont Mining’s social and environmental risks at company’s Annual General Meeting April 26th, 2012
Shareholders and NGOs at the Newmont Mining annual meeting in Wilmington, DE on Tuesday, April 24, questioned company senior management and the Board of Directors about the operational and reputational risks Newmont faces in Peru, and emphasized the need for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of local communities where Newmont operates. In addition, the group strongly encouraged additional disclosure by the company on its environmental and social guidelines and practices, including Board oversight of these issues. The Missionary Oblates are involved in the dialog with Newmont, with particular concerns about the company’s operations in Peru, the Congo and Indonesia.
In 2007, in response to a shareholder proposal filed by members of The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Newmont agreed to conduct a global review of its policies and practices related to community opposition in its mining operations. At this year’s annual shareholder meeting, the lead proponent of that proposal, Julie Tanner, Assistant Director of Socially Responsible Investing at Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), expressed frustration over Newmont’s lack of disclosure on the implementation its Community Relations Review (CRR).
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Threat to Water from Mining in Peru Mobilizes Masses February 5th, 2012
Thousands of Peruvians from the Amazon to Lima have mobilized against a serious threat to the water in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Residents there, mostly indigenous peoples, are deeply concerned about the threat to their water from a proposed mining development by the American company, Newmont Mining. Oblates in the US have engaged Newmont about the impact of their operations on communities where they have mining operations. The Yanacocha mine has been a priority in those conversations though the recent turmoil in the Cajamarca region is related to the proposed development of Minas Congas and extension of the Yanacocha project. The Oblates in Peru are supporting the March for Water that has been organized by civil society in the impacted areas.
The movement claims “the right to be consulted, to be respected and heard in decisions about its development model, for socially-just participation in economic growth, the prohibition of mining in the headwaters of rivers, and a stop to mining with cyanide and mercury that is causing so much damage to land and water.” The marchers are proclaiming their human right to water, and drawing support from churches and civil society alike in a several day march from Cajamarca to Lima. The Great National Water mobilization began on February 1st and will conclude with a convocation in Lima on February 9-10.
Read a full description of the mobilization (in English translation):