Multinational Monitor

MAY/JUN 2005
VOL 26 No. 5


How the East Was Won: BAT and Big Tobacco's Conquest of the Former Soviet Union
by Anna Gilmore and Martin McKee

Yasuní Blues: The IMF, Ecuador and Coerced Oil Exploration
by Matt Finer and Leda Huta

White Gold or Fool's Gold: What Will a Rollback of U.S. Cotton Subsidies Mean for Farmers in Burkina Faso?
by John Liebhardt

Deadly Consequences: How the IMF Provoked Bolivia Into Bloody Crisis
by Jim Schultz and Lily Whitesell


Tackling Big Tobacco: The Establishment of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
An Interview with Derek Yach

Big Tobacco's Big Seduction; Women, Tobacco and the Glorification of Addiction
An Interview with Mary Assunta

Philip Morris Comes to Indonesia: What Does a Company Get for $5 Billion?
An Interview with Tjandra Aditjama


Behind the Lines

Big Tobacco and Justice

The Front
Chile's Terror Duplicity
- The Curse of Gold

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Book Notes

Names In the News


The Front

Chile's Terror Duplicity

Temuco, Chile — Sixteen indigenous Mapuche activists and supporters in June found themselves on trial in Chile facing controversial charges of “illicit terrorist association” based on their involvement in the struggle for repossession of Mapuche territorial lands.

The defendants had been found not guilty of the same charges in November of last year.

“For us, this is the second trial we’re going to have for the same crime,” says Marcelo Quintrileo, one of the 16 Mapuche on trial. He is 27 years old and faces a minimum 5-year jail sentence if found guilty. “The only argument the prosecutors have put forth is that we’re a danger to society, that we’re a terrorist organization. So the defense says, ‘But where is the proof?’ Their response is that all of it is secret. This is how they apply the Anti-Terrorism Law.”

The trial is the latest example of the Chilean government’s use of a Pinochet-era Anti-Terrorism Law to prosecute Mapuche, part of what human rights groups denounce as a pattern of discrimination, abuse and violation of due process. According to an October 2004 report by Human Rights Watch and the Chilean organization, Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Watch, the unjustified use of terrorism laws has allowed the Chilean government to keep Mapuche leaders in pretrial detention for months, utilize secret investigations and “faceless” witnesses, and subject defendants to double jeopardy.

Currently, almost a dozen Mapuche and one Chilean supporter are serving prison sentences for terrorism convictions, and 14 more accused remain in hiding, including 10 of the 16 facing trial in June.

The “illicit association” charge is based on the defendants’ involvement in the Arauco-Malleco Association (CAM), a Mapuche rights organization named for two provinces engaged in efforts to recover lands from forestry companies and large landowners.

In the new trial, the government prosecutor is once again contending that the CAM is a terrorist organization, responsible for planning illegal, violent acts and generating fear in the general population.

In April of this year, Chile’s Supreme Court of Justice overruled a sentence from the Criminal Court of Temuco, which had absolved the 16 Mapuche of this same charge of ‘illicit association’ based on lack of credible evidence. The criminal court had characterized testimony by several “faceless” prosecution witnesses as “neither true nor credible,” stating that the prosecutor’s witnesses “lack consistency and are vague and imprecise.”

The April overruling of the not-guilty verdict came at the behest of Augustin Figueroa, a large landholder, former Minister of Agriculture under President Patricio Aylwin, and current member of the Constitutional Court.

“It surprised me, not because I have confidence in justice,” says Quintrileo, “but because what the judges had said was so well argued, that legally it seemed almost impossible that they would annul it, impossible that Figueroa could come back and exert pressure.”

The Root Conflict

The Mapuche struggle for land and autonomy stretches back to the Spanish conquistadors, but the conflict with forestry companies has its roots in the early years of the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. In the early 1970s, the Chilean government imposed a corporate-friendly economic model with forestry plantations as the priority engine of growth. In a counter-agricultural reform, the government auctioned off large tracks of land that historically belonged to the Mapuche. Since then, a powerful program of government subsidies has resulted in vast expansion of plantations onto Mapuche land.

Chile currently has 6.2 million acres of monoculture tree plantations, approximately 3.7 million acres of which are on historically Mapuche land. Over 60 percent of this forestry activity is controlled by the Matte and Angelini families, under the corporate banners of CMPC (Mininco), and Arauco.

For Mapuche communities, the fight against the forestry companies is not just a matter of land, but of environmental and socio-economic well-being. The plantation-model of cultivation drains water supplies, exhausts soil nutrients and utilizes aerially sprayed pesticides.

“There are many Mapuche communities who are virtually surrounded by pine plantations — communities who don’t have water, who don’t have medicinal plants, who don’t have fertile land,” says Alfredo Seguel, a working member of the Mapuche Coordinating Group of Organizations and Territorial Identities. “The plantations have produced a profound change in the way of life for these communities.”

Criminalizing Mapuche

Human rights advocates argue that the crimes for which the Mapuche have been charged, most involving property damage and none involving a direct threat to life, aren’t consistent with international definitions of terrorist actions. “Chile’s use of the anti-terrorism law for crimes committed by Mapuche in the context of land conflicts, which do not approach this threshold of seriousness, is not only inappropriate but also reinforces existing prejudices against the Mapuche people,” finds the Human Rights Watch report.

The Chilean government, however, maintains that the anti-terrorism law is applied only in cases of “extreme gravity.” Subsecretary of Planning, and Coordinator of Indigenous Programs and Policies, Jaime Andrade, says that the Anti-Terrorism Law has only been used in relationship to “acts of violence in which it unfortunately was not possible to use other instruments.”

In Chile, a country that meticulously guards its recently regained outward image of democracy and development, the application of a terrorist label to the Mapuche movement is poignant. Chile’s “DINA, CNE, Augusto Pinochet, Manuel Contreras remain [free], though they’re proven terrorists,” says Quintrileo, referring to the leading forces of repression during the Pinochet dictatorship. “In no other part of the world is the impunity as great as what they have; nonetheless, against the Mapuche, they accuse us of being terrorists.”

In March 2004, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Rights, presented a report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in which he condemned the use of the Anti-Terrorism Law in the Mapuche land conflict. The report recommends that the Chilean government grant a general amnesty to those prosecuted for land reclamations under anti-terrorism laws, and “take the necessary measures to end the criminalization of the legitimate activities of protest or social demands” of the Mapuche people.

“Unfortunately, one year after the report, you can’t see many advances in the fulfillment of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur,” says Jose Aylwin, director of Temuco-based Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Watch. “Given the lack of proof demonstrating that the accused are part of an association that exhibits illicit or terrorist characteristics, the government has here a great opportunity to demonstrate, through dropping this case, its willingness not to criminalize the demands of the Mapuche people as the Special Relateur Stavenhagen urged in his report. We hope that it will.”

But for Quintrileo and many other Mapuche, any hope for the Chilean justice system is long since gone.

In June, Quintrileo did not appear in court. He is now in hiding along with nine other accused Mapuche and an order has been issued for his arrest. In a communiqué, he and Oscar Higueras, a 22-year-old also in hiding, explained their decision not to appear before the court.

“We are not participating in this judicial circus, we will not validate the dirty game of the prosecutors or their public minister,” they said. “The justice in this country is for the rich and powerful. We aren’t fooled by that false promise of democracy.”

— Gretchen Gordon

The Curse of Gold

Gold-mining giant Anglo American is helping fuel massive human rights atrocities in the northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, charges “The Curse of Gold,” an explosive report issued by Human Rights Watch in June.

The region has descended into chaos since the late 1990s, when the country’s longstanding dictator, Mobutu, lost control and eventually was deposed. A toxic stew of local militias and foreign military forces have battled over the area, with horrific impacts on the local civilian population.

“The Curse of Gold” documents how local armed groups fighting for the control of gold mines and trading routes have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity using the profits from gold to fund their activities and buy weapons.

AngloGold Ashanti, part of the international mining conglomerate Anglo American, developed links with one murderous armed group, the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI), according to the report, helping the FNI to access the gold-rich mining site around the town of Mongbwalu in the northeastern Ituri district.

“In return for FNI assurances of security for its operation and staff, AngloGold Ashanti provided logistical and financial support — that in turn resulted in political benefits — to the armed group and its leaders,” according to the report. “The company knew, or should have known, that the FNI armed group had committed grave human rights abuses against civilians and was not a party to the transitional government.”

However, for AngloGold Ashanti, “business considerations came above respect for human rights,” the report concludes.

Acknowledging and repudiating payments totaling about $9,000 from company representatives to the FNI, AngloGold Ashanti otherwise denies that it provided any material support to the FNI.

“Your report strongly suggests that our presence in the district, and particularly our return to Mongbwalu after periods of withdrawal, was at the behest, with the support of and to the benefit of the FNI,” writes AngloGold Ashanti CEO Bobby Godsell in a letter to Human Rights Watch. “This is not at all our experience. We have been guided throughout by discussions with the government of the DRC [Democratic Republic of the Congo]. These discussions occurred on a regular basis at all levels of the government. Our return to the camp was the consequence of these discussions.”

“We draw a distinction between support for a group such as the FNI, and some level of unavoidable contact,” the company said in a separate statement. “The contacts are a consequence simply of the proximity of our operation to local communities, some members of which are FNI members. It does not make us allies of the FNI, nor complicit in their activities which, in any event, we hope are now aimed at enhancing the peace process in that country.”

But the Human Rights Watch report contains quite specific allegations and evidence.

The problem for AngloGold Ashanti, according to the report, is that while the company’s official discussions were with the DRC’s government in Kinshasa, the government did not control the area around Mongbwalu. The FNI did.

In 2003, AngloGold Ashanti met with FNI leader Floribert Njabu, apparently to ask for permission to enter Mongbwalu, according to the report. Njabu told Human Rights Watch, “The government is never going to come to Mongbwalu. I am the one who gave [AngloGold] Ashanti permission to come. I am the boss of Mongbwalu. If I want to chase them away, I will.”

Njabu gave the company permission in writing to start operations in the area.

At the same time, Human Rights Watch notes, FNI combatants were returning from a murderous campaign of ethnic cleansing in the vicinity of Mongbwalu. “They had left some of their victims dead in the streets with their arms tied, sticks in their rectums and body parts cut off.”

Njabu organized a public meeting to instruct the population to permit AngloGold Ashanti to proceed with its operations unimpeded.

In March 2004, a company official reported in writing that Njabu told company representatives that they were “welcome in the area, and would be allowed to carry out their activities unhindered.”

Over the next year, according to “The Curse of Gold,” AngloGold Ashanti would provide Njabu and the FNI with logistical support and transportation. A UN group reported that the company even provided Njabu with his home — used as headquarters for the FNI — in Mongbwalu. AngloGold Ashanti acknowledges that the FNI occupied several homes on company property, but says the group did so without permission.

Perhaps most significant of the Human Rights Watch charges is that Njabu’s relationship with AngloGold Ashanti provided him legitimacy in negotiations with the national government.

“Njabu now has power due to the gold he controls and [the presence of] AngloGold Ashanti,” one local observer told Human Rights Watch. “This is his ace and he will use it to get power in Kinshasa.”

The report also illustrates the trail of tainted gold from the DRC to neighboring Uganda, from where it is sent to global gold markets in Europe and elsewhere. The report documents how a leading Swiss gold refining company, Metalor Technologies, previously bought gold from Uganda, most of which was almost certainly smuggled out of the DRC. Uganda has become a significant gold exporter, even though it produces virtually no gold itself. After discussions and correspondence with Human Rights Watch, Metalor Technologies announced in May that it would suspend its purchases of gold from Uganda.

“Corporations should ensure their activities support peace and respect for human rights in volatile areas such as northeastern Congo, not work against them,” says Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher on DRC at Human Rights Watch. “Local warlords use natural resources to support their bloody activities. Any support for such groups, whether direct or indirect, must not continue.”

— Robert Weissman


The May/June Lawrence Summers Memorial Award* goes to the Wall Street Journal editorial page.

Commenting on demands that the United States raise its level of development aid — which is much lower on a per capita basis, or compared to the size of the national economy, than other nations’ aid budgets — the Journal editorialized:

“And for those who talk about ‘aid per capita,’ keep in mind that U.S. military spending that defends freedom is also a kind of development aid.”

There is, no doubt, a lot to question about the foreign aid business. But this claim is, to put it mildly, extraordinary.

Source: “The Blair Debt Project” (editorial), The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2005.

*In a 1991 internal memorandum, then-World Bank economist Lawrence Summers argued for the transfer of waste and dirty industries from industrialized to developing countries. “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?” wrote Summers, who went on to serve as Treasury Secretary during the Clinton administration and is now president of Harvard University. “I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that. ... I’ve always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low [sic] compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City.” Summers later said the memo was meant to be ironic.


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