The New Conquistadors [Canadian Miners Conlfict/Image in Panama] – Mellissa Fung, Paul Seeler and Lynn Burgess (CBC National News Documentary – June 18, 2012)

Click here to watch the documentary “The New Conqistadors”:

Starting in the early 16th Century, Spanish explorers arrived in Central and South America in search of gold, silver and spices. While the term “Spanish Conquistadors” references an era of great Spanish power and influence, for the indigenous people living in the lands the Conquistadors reached, it was considered a time of exploitation, disease and oppression.

Five hundred years later, there are some – particularly in the indigenous communities of Latin America – who are seeing this as new era of economic conquest, one with significant environmental and social consequences. This time, the new “conquerors” are Canadian mining companies.

These “new conquistadors” have generated enormous wealth for Canada and the countries in which they do business. Canadian mining companies often have “sustainable development” programs that provide a range of opportunities for locals and attempt to offset the negative environmental effects of mining. However, the economic, environmental and social changes these mines bring to rural communities have generated considerable debate in Latin America. This project is intended as a catalyst for discussion.

“The New Conquistadors” is a collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a nonprofit journalism organization committed to funding under-reported subjects of international interest. The Pulitzer Center is “a bold initiative, in keeping with its deep ties to the family whose name for more than a century has been a watchword for journalistic independence, integrity, and courage.”

Find out more about the organization here:

The interactive map found on this site has been provided by MICLA, the McGill University-based research group investigating Canadian mining in Latin America.

Find out more about MICLA here:


Award-winning journalist Mellissa Fung has been with CBC Television since 2000. As a national correspondent, she has been on the frontlines of a wide range of stories on both Canadian and world affairs, including the Beijing Olympics and the war in Afghanistan, as well as in depth documentaries on topics as diverse as asbestos mining and post-traumatic stress in soldiers returning from war.

Her best-selling book, Under an Afghan Sky, chronicles her experience as a hostage after she was kidnapped by insurgents in Afghanistan in 2008. Fung divides her time between Toronto and Washington, DC.


After graduating from the University of Windsor with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, Paul Seeler began his career working as a film editor for CBC Windsor in 1975. From there he moved on to become a cameraman/editor, shooting news and current affairs.

In 1985 he moved to CBC Toronto and since then he has shot documentaries for Monitor, The Journal and The National. Paul presently works on The Fifth Estate. His work has taken him everywhere from Siberia to the Serengeti of Africa, war zones in Afghanistan, to the conflict in Northern Ireland, and all across Canada.


Lynn Burgess is a documentary producer with The National, focusing primarily on investigative and foreign journalism.

Some of her producing credits include: Canada’s Ugly Secret, an award-winning investigation into Canada’s asbestos trade, Getting Away With Murder, an investigation into the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Dying for Attention, a psychological deconstruction of school shooter Kimveer Gill, Red Lies, an investigation of the Soviet Union’s biological weapons program and Roots of Hatred, a disturbing portrait of a young student at a madrasah in rural Pakistan. More recently she has covered unfolding events in Egypt and Libya.