Sociocultural impact of mining

Farming communities all over the world are experiencing how the arrival of mining companies is accompanied by social unrest and disintegration. Multinational corporations instruct local affiliated companies and their accomplices to use ‘divide and conquer’ strategies such as bribery, threat, violence and blackmail in order to break the resistance of local communities who oppose to the taking of their land.

Local organisations and their leaders, who want to defend the interests of the local farming communities, often are the target of psychological and physical threats, directly or indirectly expressed by mining companies, their spies, militias or guards. Army and police are more dedicated to guarantee the interests of the companies than to protect the local population.

The Andes culture is a strong agrocentric culture. Farming is the central economic activity upon which the world view or cosmovisión of the local population is based. When this traditional form of farming is rendered impossible, because of water scarceness, pollution or because people are driven from their farming grounds, it means the silent death of a millenaric culture.

Social structures of communities change as a result of mining activities. Potential workers and their families arrive in vast amounts in the nearby villages and towns. The opening of a new mine triggers also a rural to urban migration among local farmers, because of the loss of their farmlands, their only sustainable source of survival.

Social differences between the various groups (those who work in the mines and those who lost their income because of the mining) are intensified and add to already rising tensions in the fast growing cities. It is therefore not surprising that unemployment, poverty and violence are on the rise.