Social unrest in Guiana over mining project / South Kurdistan under threat

20 to 26 October

Protest in Guyana,
Protest in Guyana, Author: Or de Question
WEEKLY ROUNDUP. Social movements in Guiana are protesting against a mining megaproject coinciding with the visit of French president Emmanuel Macron to the overseas department. Also in South America, it is now confirmed that activist Santiago Maldonado died —the reason why still not disclosed— after having taken part in a Mapuche protest in Chile. Meanwhile, South Kurdistan now lives under the threat of the advance of the Iraqi army.


Guiana opposition to Montagne d’Or mining megaproject. A series of incidents —including the use of tear gas by the police against demonstrators— in Cayenne, the capital of Guiana, are a sign of popular discontent in the face of president Emmanuel Macron’s visit to the French overseas department as regards the Russian-Canadian Montagne d’Or mining project. Or de Question umbrella group, which brings together social movements and grassroots organizations who oppose the project, argues that the project is harmful to the environment, does not benefit companies in Guiana, and has an excessive dependence on fluctuations of gold in the world market.

Another of the groups’ arguments is that the rights of Indigenous peoples are not being respected. Representatives of six Indigenous peoples are denouncing their permanent marginalization in decisions that French authorities take in Guiana.

Beyond the mining issue, Macron is set to face fierce discontent in Guiana over the department’s general social and economic situation. The Pou Lagwiyann Dekolé group, which was born last spring as a result of social protests against the French government, is calling on Macron to improve living conditions in Guiana.


Share of Indigenous people increases in Canada, reaches almost 5%. According to data from the 2016 census released this week, the number of members of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples continues to grow, now standing at 1,673,785 people out of more than 35 million Canadians. 20 years ago the share was 2.8%, while 10 years ago it stood at 3.8%. Growth is explained because Indigenous peoples have a higher birth rate than the average, but also because more and more people are self-identifying themselves as Indigenous.Census data also show that Indigenous youth are increasingly learning their peoples’ languages as second languages.

Corpse found last week in Chubut river is Santiago Maldonado’s. The Argentinian activist was missing since August 1 after having participated in the protest of a Mapuche community. Last week a corpse was found in the Chubut River. Judge of the case Gustavo Lleral has said that “the whole context is being investigated” and has explained that the autopsy confirmed that the corpse belongs to Maldonado. The activist’s family has admitted it is indeed Maldonado’s, and is now demanding to know what the cause of his death is.

South Kurdistan under threat by Iraqi army. Amid an ongoing offensive of the Iraqi army after the Kurdish referendum on independence, Kurdish forces have lost 40% of the territory they used to control. The Kurdish government has offered to “freeze” the referendum outcome in order to promote a dialogue “based on the Iraqi Constitution” and stop territorial losses. But Iraq has refused. October 26, Iraqi forces were seeking to take a strategic region close to the tripoint where the state borders of Syria, Turkey and Iraq meet. Occupying the area would allow Iraqis to both cut contact between Rojava and Southern Kurdistan and approach a pipeline through which the Kurdish government exports oil to Turkey.