Advanced Search

Nicaragua: Fatal clashes at 'El Limón' mine

Development: On 6 October Nicaragua’s national police reported that one police officer had been killed and 31 people injured during violent clashes with protesting workers from the ‘El Limón’ mine, located in the department of León.

Significance: For several weeks workers have been demonstrating outside the mine, in which Canada’s B2Gold Corp. has a 95% stake and a local miners’ union the remaining 5%, in protest at the sacking of three union colleagues. They argue that the dismissals, on disciplinary grounds, were unjust and illegal, even though they have been ratified by the labour ministry (Mintrab). With the protesters blocking access to El Limón, the conflict has been affecting operations at the mine, leading to tensions between the protesters, B2Gold and the government led by President Daniel Ortega. There are now fears that tensions will escalate further following yesterday’s fatal incident.

  • Hundreds of El Limón miners began a protest action on 25 September, after Mintrab issued a resolution confirming that three B2Gold miners, all members of the ‘Pedro Roque Blandón’ syndicate, had been sacked for violating the firm’s labour code and its internal disciplinary regulations. B2Gold said that the three worker’s contracts were “justly” terminated after they “failed to meet disciplinary obligations and caused economic damage to the firm”, without providing any further detail.
  • Some fellow miners complained that the sackings are unjust and illegal, citing the fact that no specific reasons were given by B2Gold in the resolution issued by Mintrab. Led by union leader Humberto Rivas, who happens to be one of those sacked, the protestors insist that the dismissals were arbitrary and a violation of labour rights. Since then, some 220 demonstrators have erected a picket line outside the mine, preventing other workers and mine administrators from entering the site.
  • Violence erupted yesterday after, at B2Gold’s request, a police escort was assigned to offer protection to a bus carrying workers from another mine sent in to work at El Limón. The national police chief, Aminta Granera, said that as the bus approached the mine a “criminal group” of protesters hurled sticks, rocks and Molotov cocktails at the bus and the police escort. Police officer Kevin Esaú Valle Carrasco was killed in the attack, with 23 other officers and eight civilians reported as injured. Four B2Gold vehicles as well as a police patrol vehicle were also damaged.

Looking Ahead: Granera has been adamant that the authorities will identify and bring to justice those responsible for the violence. With B2Gold, Nicaragua’s main mineral exporter, insisting that it fully complied with Nicaraguan law in the dismissals process, the conflict may intensify in the short term.

End of preview - This article contains approximately 435 words.

Subscribers: Log in now to read the full article

Not a Subscriber?

Choose from one of the following options

1 credit = $0.50/£0.33