Blinded, sexually assaulted, silenced: the war over lithium, Argentina’s ‘white gold’ – by Harriet Barber (The Guardian – January 11, 2024)

https://www.theguardian.com/

In the country’s ‘lithium triangle’ activists say Indigenous land protections have been removed and protests against mining violently repressed

The first time, they came at 2am and without a warrant. Rosa* was alone. She was gagged, her eyes covered, and her hands bound with a cable tie. “I was paralysed. I felt someone choking me,” Rosa recalls. “They called me a socialist, a whore. I was in my underwear; they touched me. One put his fingers inside of me.”

It was the night after widespread protests against sweeping changes to the constitution in Jujuy, a northern Argentine province. The reforms were approved in the early hours behind closed doors, affecting two articles: one limiting the right to demonstrate and the other modifying the right to Indigenous lands, with the undeclared aim of facilitating lithium mining.

“The officers [two women and a man] told me not to protest any more,” says Rosa, a 42-year-old teacher and political activist. “When they left, they took the gag out and, one by one, kissed me on the lips. I stayed immobilised on the floor for 13 hours.”

Jujuy sits in the “lithium triangle”, a stretch of the Andes and salt flats of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia containing most of the world’s lithium reserves. Argentina holds the second-largest deposits of the metal in the world and has 38 mining projects planned in the north of the country, with three already operating. Its lithium exports grew by 235% in 2022, while the country’s new president, Javier Milei, has pledged to develop the sector.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2024/jan/11/lithium-war-over-argentina-white-gold-jujuy