Do you remember what I said in ”Transatlantic Corporatocracy? No Thanks” about corporations having the power to sue whole nations? Well, it’s happening to Costa Rica.
Canadian mining corporation Infinito Gold was planning to cut down swathes of rainforest to make a huge open-pit gold mine. This project was apparently agreed by the former president, but locals were worried about the prospect of their drinking water being contaminated with cyanide and other nasties. Also the loss of the rainforest would have been devastating. Not just for the 5% of the world’s species that live in the Costa Rican tropics, but also for the successful ecotourism industry that fuels the national economy. And then there’s the carbon sequestration, protection from erosion and storms and all the other ecological services offered by the forest.
For all these reasons, the Costa Rican government, headed up by a new president, withdrew the mining licence and told Infinito Gold to go to hell. Well not in so many words, but you get the picture. The company are now suing the whole nation for £1 billion in the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), claiming Costa Rica is violating the Costa Rica-Canada Bilateral Investment Treaty. This is the biggest lawsuit Costa Rica has ever been involved in, and it would be a devastating blow to the nation, which is not particularly wealthy (despite being top of the Happy Planet Index).
It’s so unjust for corporations to be allowed to sue whole countries, just for protecting their people. Governments should have more power than corporations. In a democracy like Costa Rica, the government has been elected to care for the citizens, protect them and provide civil services for them. How can they do this when their power is undermined by mega-companies that are just out to make profit at any cost?
It’s the principle of the injustice that get’s me as mad as the specifics, but with this case the specifics are pretty bad too. Rainforest needs to be protected. It’s taking carbon out of the atmosphere, it’s home to millions of beautiful and often rare animals (exotic birds, tree-frogs, jaguars etc etc) and plants, the local ecotourism industry is founded on it. And just as importantly, the proposed gold mine would pollute the local people’s drinking water with dangerous chemicals and pollute the local environment, causing damage to the surrounding forest that is left standing.
Watchdog.net has a petition telling Infinito Gold to drop the lawsuit, please sign it here.
Their email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org – if you think what they’re doing is wrong, then please send them an email telling them so. They can ignore us, sure. But if enough people hassle them and they start to get bad press, maybe they’ll change their minds.
It’s worth a try at least.
Please spread the word by sharing this post, and the petition.