This morning’s e-mails brought this announcement from MiningWatch. We congratulate Jennifer Moore who has been hired by MiningWatch to deal with the Marlin Mine in Guatemala.
It is with great excitement that we announce that Jennifer Moore has been hired on as our new Latin America Program Coordinator. Jennifer’s excellent skills and extensive experience as a writer, researcher, organizer, and project coordinator will be assets to MiningWatch and to our allies and partners. She has been based in Ecuador for most of the last four years, but Jennifer also has significant experience in the rest of the hemisphere, including the Canadian context where much of our direct advocacy and education efforts are focused.
Jennifer is a freelance print and broadcast journalist with twelve years experience in social justice journalism, a third of which she has gained while living and working in Ecuador. While in South America from 2006 to 2010, she researched and wrote popular and academic articles about the struggles of indigenous and non-indigenous communities affected by Canadian-financed mining companies.
MiningWatch staff and Directors wish to thank all who expressed interest in this position. The selection process was made more difficult by a surfeit of excellent candidates. It is good to know that such capable and dedicated people are not only aware of our work but eager to join our team.
Jen’s work will be divided between the campaign to stop abuses at Goldcorp’s Marlin mine in Guatemala, and supporting communities, organizations, and networks struggling with mining issues throughout Latin America. Jamie’s involvement in the region will diminish as Jen takes up her new role, leaving him a little more time to focus on other areas like our Africa program and Canadian policy work.
As I said, we congratulate Jennifer on being picked for the job from a “surfeit of excellent candidates.” The salary offered with the job was high; no doubt it attracted many applicants.
Here then are some hopes and wishes about what she will do for those who live around the Marlin Mine in Guatemala. I have been privileged to have visited many of the houses around the mine. I have walked up long paths to small farms near the mine. I have struggled down valleys to see adobe structures perched besides long streams.
I was there at the invitation of the Guatemala government to inspect houses that some unprofessional engineers from a church in Colorado claimed were cracked because of the mine. Sadly the incompetence and venality of these Colorado engineers caused many unhappy home-owners, vexed politicians, and a bad rap for the mine. I trudged for days around the area and examine both the inside and outside of many houses. We did blast monitoring and traffic vibration monitoring. This piece is not about why the houses cracked, but it is about what Jennifer should do about the cracked houses. So let me offer her some suggestions.
Just to the west of the mine is a small town perched on the outcrop of a dike. The houses are built on cut and fill. The fill drapes far down the steep slopes of the ridge. Water from washing and toilets seeps into the fill. Many of the houses are cracked. One was so badly cracked and, in my opinion, so dangerous that I recommended it evacuation.
Jennifer: in the next big earthquake, many houses in this village will fall and many will die. This is a disaster of large proportions waiting to happen. Please do not sit in meetings surrounded by flowers and criticize the mine. Rather alert the people in these dangerous houses to their situation; get them to retrofit the houses against death; get them to move; get them educated so that they can help themselves and not just wallow in hate of those with good-paying jobs at the mine.
The mine cannot do this. You and your ilk have so poisoned the atmosphere that nobody in a house that will collapse and kill them will believe somebody from the mine. Now you and yours have to stand up and take responsibility for the distrust you have created and act to save lives yourselves. There is no need for more well-written emails on the evils of mining in Guatemala. There is a great need for engineering to improve people’s lives and their safety.
I have wondered around villages where the house is built in the path of emerging seeping groundwater. The ducks drink and shit in the water that then seeps to the adobe. The water wets the adobe, The wall falls and the child in the house gets sick.
Jennifer. Word will not keep this child well. Only action to get her away from water contaminated by duck shit will help. So please Jennifer, avoid the rhetoric of the anti-mining chorus. Rather let the mother know why her child is sick. It is not the mine over the hill—it is duck shit in the stagnant water in which the child plays. Now is perhaps a new opportunity for the truth and facts of hygiene to prevail.
Jennifer: I saw beautiful doors and windows in the houses I observed. These doors and windows are made by a local. The skill is of an artist. Encourage this artist to produce, maybe make more doors, maybe export them. Teach the artist that there is profit to be made in art as well as in mining. Neither is bad.
I have seen groundwater seep and wash away the topsoil. I was told this is the fault of the mine. I know enough of groundwater hydrology to know the seeping water and topsoil erosion has nothing to do with the mine. Jennifer: find someone to help the farmer who land is being destroyed to capture the water and improve his crops. A small dike, a small diversion structure and he can make money. Do not encourage him instead to wallow in hate against the distant mine as the land beneath his feet is washed away.
I have said enough. I have seen the villages around the mine. It is in essence no different from the mine I grew up on. The details are vastly different, but there is the same feel. I will write more about this one day. But right now the people do not need justice brough via the pen of yet another journalist—they need real-time engineering help, honest professionalism and technical learning. Otherwise, like Haiti they will die and they will once again fall back on blaming sickness on those who come to help.