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Barrick Accused by Governor’s Brother of Mingling in Argentine Election Politics

Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA)
Contact: Jorge Daniel Taillant
Coordinator, Mining, Environment and Human Rights Program
Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA)
jdtaillant@gmail.com
tel. +54 9 351 507 8376
www.cedha.org.ar


May 4, 2011 – In a highly unusual interview[1] with a national radio station, the brother and would be gubernatorial candidate of the incumbent Governor of San Juan Province attacked his brother (Governor José Luis Gioja) and Barrick Gold of maintaining a lucrative and economically abusive relationship for the province. It seems Barrick’s profits are causing a stir in local politics that has miners and ruling family members at odds with one another.

But Cesar Gioja, currently national Senator for the Province of San Juan and recently President of the Senate’s Mining Committee, had more to say against Barrick and against his brother and Governor of San Juan, José Luis Gioja. “The mining sector has a very unjust benefits scheme, where 97% of profits go to the company while only 3% to the province. We’ve been denouncing this and want to change the law, not because we are against mining, but because we need to modify profit distribution. Barrick needs for Gioja [José Luis] to be reelected so that it can keep this unjust system of distribution of profits”.

José Luis Gioja is currently in his second term in office and has undermined his brother’s bid to the gubernatorial seat by submitting a plebiscite vote to allow for his own second re-election. That would be a total of three terms in office if he is again reelected. This infuriated the Senator and has the brothers going at it in local politics, at the expense it seems of once ally Barrick Gold.

Cesar Gioja goes on, “The best kept secret in the country is just how much Barrick Gold profits. From Barrick’s 2010 earnings report, with 1,220,000 ounces of gold produced at an extraction cost of US$256 per ounce, and with gold prices at an average of US$1,400, and less 3% tax payments, Barrick pocketed US$1.2 billion. The provincial budget of San Juan doesn’t reach US$1 billion.”

The Senator also attacked his province’s politics, claiming, “San Juan has no democracy, nor is there any transparency. The [provincial] Justice system is blind, deaf and dumb”.

Further, the would be candidate to the governorship to dethrown Barrick’s man (José Luis Gioja), attacked San Juan’s media, stating that “there is a media barrier which makes it impossible for him to speak to the public. The media hasn’t interviewed me all this year”. He accused one media station of taking orders from his brother (José Luis) who demanded that they not publish Cesar’s opinions.

CEDHA has been denouncing the dark and shady politics of San Juan Province, the impossibilities of publishing critical opinions of mining operations in local press, the lack of information available to the public, the abusive tax schemes which inequitably and unfairly benefit Barrick Gold over the public interest, Barrick’s irresponsible operations contaminating rivers and destroying glaciers in a greedy and relentless search for gold. Barrick at one point suggested they would blow up glaciers and move them with dump trucks to get to gold underneath the ice. Now the former President of the Senate’s Mining Commission, the potential gubernatorial candidate for the incumbent party and the present governor’s brother, who has had access to the highest level of the province’s internal mining information agrees with us!

It’s time to change the politics in San Juan.

[1] For the original interview: http://www.cadena3.com/contenido/2011/05/03/76027.asp

 

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