The National Coordinator for Defense of Indigenous Farming Areas and Protected Areas (Contiocap) presented a letter denouncing the health and environmental impacts caused by the increase in the use of mercury for gold mining.
Contiocap spokesman Alex Villca pointed out that with this letter the indigenous organization joins the allegations of two UN rapporteurs who have already expressed their concerns to the Bolivian state about the increase in trade and use of mercury in Bolivia.
Contiocap’s letter indicates that it is important for the President to understand the deep concern of indigenous peoples about the lack of specific and effective regulation to control the import, commercialization and use of mercury
“The organizations are deeply dismayed that the state completely ignores international norms and standards relating to the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly the right to free, prior, informed advice. This can be demonstrated by the large number of approved standards that promote mining activities and the use of mercury at the expense of the environment and the human rights of indigenous communities, ”the text adds.
Villca pointed out that mercury pollution mainly affects the peoples who live on the banks of rivers, particularly the Beni River.
“We have to add that not only human health is affected, but also the environment, biodiversity, we are talking about very fragile ecosystems. So this practice of using this heavy metal, mercury, is contaminating all of the aquatic life in these rivers, which feed the indigenous people in this basin, ”he warned.
The UN rapporteur on toxins, Marcos Orellana, reported on Wednesday that the Bolivian state had failed to respond to the letter of allegation sent in September and was not known whether it was developing a national action plan against the use of mercury, as the obligation under the Minamata Convention.
Villca pointed out that this lack of reaction by the Contiocap government had caused the letter to be presented to the President so that an announcement could be made as soon as possible.
He pointed out that the effects of mercury are already endangering the indigenous people of the Esse Ejja, including those from the north of La Paz.
“If the media could travel to this section of the population, they will surely find people who can sometimes no longer walk, sit in wheelchairs, another aspect that occurs especially with children is the impossibility of maintaining classes. For example, another problem that occurs in women at the reproductive stage is the most vulnerable and if they have high levels of mercury contamination they are at risk of losing their baby or having your baby come out with deformities, “the spokesman said.