Costa Rica: gold mine protesters end fast

A group of Costa Rican environmental activists held a “Cultural Festival for Life” on Nov. 2 to conclude a hunger strike they began on Oct. 8 against the projected Las Crucitas open-pit gold mine in San Carlos in the north of the country. The hunger strike started with 14 activists encamped in front of the Presidential Residence in San José; all but two had dropped out for medical reasons by Nov. 1, when striker David Rojas was taken by ambulance to the state-run Carlos Durán Clinic to be treated for serious dehydration and gastritis. The remaining striker, Andrés Guillén, apparently decided to end the action the next day.

The activists said their goal was to increase President Laura Chinchilla’s sensitivity to the issue, but she refused to overturn executive decree 34-8001 of 2008, in which former president Oscar Arias (1986-1990 and 2006-2010) declared the mine—which belongs to the Canadian firm Infinito Gold Ltd, formerly Vanessa Ventures—a matter of “national interest.” Chinchilla may have feared political damage from the hunger strike, however: the president’s office said she had ordered the Presidential Residence’s physician, Adrián Rechnitzer, to monitor the activists’ health during the strike. (El País, Costa Rica, Nov. 1; EFE, Nov. 1, via MSN Latino; Adital, Brazil, Nov. 5)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 7.

See our last post on the mineral cartel in Central America.