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From: "Jo Makepeace" (
Subject: SchNEWS 553, Friday 28th July, 2006
Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2006 17:11:25 +0100

Petelovo barricade against proposed Euromax mine (Bulgaria)


Back in the 80s in the Kardjali District of Bulgaria, corporate prospectors decided that the only profitable way to extract some local gold is to use, er cyanide (around eleven tons of it). Although the proposals would gradually contaminate the local groundwater with toxic poison this has only been viewed as a slight nuisance, and plans were quickly made to forcibly evict surrounding villagers. Only after a prolonged battle with local communities, and the realisation that they really would be poisoning the water supply for whole Thracian valley area, were plans finally abandoned. 18 years on and a number of corporations are have now re-evaluated the situation and have decided that the size of potential profits are worth a taking the additional 'risk'.

Profit hungry Canadian firm, 'Euromax' are one such company, noting "while mineral wealth in this region formed the foundation of some of the most powerful dynasties in the ancient world, exploration in modern times has been at best sporadic." Eager to reverse this trend, Euromax bought up the mining rights to the area back in 2004. Since then they've been beavering away trying to make sure any trifling legal or democratic objections were overturned or bypassed, eventually succeeding in getting the supreme court to rule that no environmental impact concerns need addressing at all! Locals, for some strange reason, are less enthusiastic about getting the prospective trashing of their ecosystem and they've been campaigning against a deal that allows Euromax to mop up 99% of the profits, only bunging the local municipality a mean 1%. After a failed 'promotion' campaign in the villages, and when heavy mining equipment started showing up at night, 500 people quickly mobilised and blocked off access to the site.

Since 29th June the people from Popinci, together with their neighbours, have set up a permanent barricade at the hill of Petelovo, shutting the road to the proposed mine. Elderly grannies, mothers with small children, teenagers, middle-aged men and women have all joined the camp to try and save their village. 7 days into the camp, one of the protesters was found with a knife in his chest, following a disagreement with the company's bodyguards the previous day. No information about the case has so far been made public. Nearly a month later, protesters are still there, declaring that "We will not elect people who are betraying us, instead of supporting us. We will not vote. These people must understand that this state is OURS. We have to redefine our definition for a state."

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