Meridian Gold vs Residents of Esquel

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Meridian Gold vs Residents of Esquel

In 2005, El Desquite, the Argentinian subsidiary of Meridian Gold (which is a Canadian-owned mining company that has its headquarters in the U.S.), launched a legal action against six residents of the town of Esquel, Argentina, who were opposing the company's proposed gold mine. The legal action was over the residents' leaking of the company's public relations strategy which was "to change the community's mind about the mine," Marcela Valente reported for Inter Press Service. [1]

This is an example of a SLAPP suit, where a corporation sues people with less resources into silence.

PR techniques

Earth Works wrote about the suing and the PR to be used on the people. The company has "attempted to clamp down on activists, suing the residents of Esquel in 2005 for publicizing a tape from a meeting in Buenos Aires in which executives and public relations consultants discussed methods such as hiring community leaders to be opinion leaders, capable of persuading hardliners." [2]

Real World Radio wrote in October 2006:

A communique spread by the Assembly of Neighbors, reads “The persecution of half a dozen neighbors is considered as an attack on the community, which carries out monthly protests against the mine”.
Minera El Desquite filed a legal action against six neighbors from Esquel who disseminated the plans of the company in 2003 to “change” the minds of the people of that town, who rejected the company’s mining project with 80 per cent of the votes in a referendum held in March of that year. The tried neighbors, including journalists, disseminated an audio recording of a meeting held between executives and advisors of El Desquite, in September of 2003.
According to the Assembly of Neighbors of Esquel, the audio shows the representatives of the mining corporation planning strategies to change the people’s minds, who reject the project of gold extraction because it means stealing natural resources and because of the contamination it causes. In the audio file the executive directors of El Desquite mention their contacts with candidates running for Chubut’s government in the 2003 elections, as well as with ministers and government officials. Representatives of the company are also heard talking about the need of using their employees and relatives to have influence on the neighbor boards, in order to obtain the support of the people of Esquel.[3]

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Marcela Valente, "Local Opponents of Mine Sued by Meridian Gold", Inter Press Service, February 15, 2007.
  2. Community opposition bring mining moratorium in Patagonian region, Earth Works, accessed June 2008.
  3. "Neighbors Denounce Meridian Gold’s Persecution", Real World Radio, October 30, 2006.