Canadian mining companies are the apparent villain in a number of central and south american mining disputes lately. Copper Mesa Mining Corporation, formerly known as Ascendant Copper is the major player in a recent documentary film called Under Rich Earth. The film is highly recommended for anyone interested in the conflict between the people of Ecuador and a company determined to mine their land. In short, the conflict escalated until the company was hiring paramilitaries to frighten the people and set up camps in the area. The people’s response was impressive on a number of levels. Without active use of force, the locals captured a large band of paramilitaries and held them until a government detachment came to deal with the situation.
In a related story, the people of El Salvador have fought to keep mining companies from having a free reign in their country. Pacific Rim Mining Corp has in response attempted to press charges against El Salvador on the basis of CAFTA (The Central American Free Trade Agreement).
International corporations have been lobbying for decades for changes to the system of international trade that will give them more ability to access resources and markets. The continued empowerment of the corporation is worrying to many people. In some cases such as these, it appears that companies are using these powers to try to bully their way to wealth. In some cases, such as in Under Rich Earth, it appears that the question has become: human rights or corporate rights?