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Commentary: Biden administration should dismantle neoliberal system that allows corporations to attack local communities and sue governments over social & environmental protections

'In Guatemala, Harris Should Prioritize People Over Corporations', 7 June 2021

Vice President Kamala Harris is traveling to Guatemala this week to discuss solutions to the poverty, violence, and corruption that are among the driving forces of migration. Contributing to these drivers are neoliberal arrangements, such as the Central America–Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which ... favors the development of large-scale mining and energy projects that are devastating to the well-being of rural communities and Indigenous peoples, while allowing private corporations to sue governments over hard-fought social and environmental protections...

A Nevada-based mining company is suing the Guatemalan government for over $400 million, claiming violations of investor protections in the CAFTA-DR. Kappes, Cassiday & Associates (KCA) argues in part that the government failed to adequately protect its mine from local communities... In fact, the Company would not have been able to operate its open-pit gold mine in the region in the first place if not for disproportionate police actions to defend the company’s interests... Early on the morning of May 21, nearly 40 police patrol trucks, including an anti-riot unit, showed up outside the mine gates where community members organized as the Peaceful Resistance La Puya have maintained their protest camp since March 2012...Community members active in the resistance to KCA’s mining project faced other acts of physical violence, intimidation, and threats, including an attempted murder. A number of them were also subject to drawn-out cases of legal persecution that have been criticized for failing to follow due process or lacking in evidence...

Three Canadian mining companies are suing Colombia for more than $800 million over court decisions to protect a fragile, high altitude ecosystem that is vital to ensuring water supplies for millions of people downstream. The Chilean copper company, CODELCO, is threatening to sue Ecuador... The Biden administration should commit to dismantling this system...