During the year 2019, TCRN has emphasized the environmental situation of Crucitas, the struggles, purposes, and actions against this man-made ecological disaster. Let’s recall that all Central American countries have suffered in recent decades, depredation of their natural resources that seem to have no limits. Mining projects are one of the main causes of serious social, economic and environmental damage, especially as a result of open-pit mining and artisanal mining.
Through artisanal mining, damage to the “Río San Juan” Binational Basin, located between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, has been carried out in greater force, gravely damaging this area rich biodiversity. Today, the situation in the waters of “Crucitas”, presents a concentration of mercury well above international standards.
For years, Costa Rican, environmental, health and safety authorities have known about the situation of illegal exploitation of gold in “Crucitas”, in addition to the violation of environmental laws, threats to human health, transfer of prohibited substances, such as mercury and cyanide, and looting of the nation’s wealth from the subsoil.
In this regard, Costa Rican immigration authorities are aware of the huge number of undocumented migrant (Nicaraguan) “coligalleros”, many of them found infraganti in the mining operation and detained two, three and more times.
This year 2020 returns with greater emphasis on the denunciations concerning the contamination in “Crucitas” and the possibility of strengthening the recognition of the rights of natural ecosystems.
The Ombudsman’s office will give its opinion to the Constitutional Chamber on the contamination with mercury that occurs in the vicinity of the “Finca Vivoyet in Crucitas”, where the “Infinite Gold mining company” had intended to extract gold and that, as we mentioned earlier, has been invaded by improvised miners who have unleashed an environmental emergency that could have irreversible consequences on the natural environments of the “San Juan” River.
In 2018, the “Costa Rican Ecological Federation (FECON)”, filed a legal complaint with the environmental lawyer “Alvaro Sagot” against the Ministry of Health for the contempt of the Regulation on “Guide Values in Soils for Decontamination of Sites Affected by Environmental Emergencies and Spills”, (Executive Decree No. 37757-S). It also points out the responsibilities by the Ministry of Health with regards to the “Crucitas” environmental disaster in the area of “Cutris de San Carlos”.
With these arguments, at the beginning of the year 2019, FECON brought an appeal to the constitutional courts (file No. 19-011277-0007-CO), denouncing this inaction and requesting recognition of the rights of the ecosystems in the area. That is why one of the most innovative arguments of this complaint in legal terms is the “Rights of Nature”.
According to Sagot, “it is vital, given the problem, that the rights of the ecosystems on that region of Crucitas be declared, as was done in Colombia that declared the legality of the rights in the region of the Colombian Amazon against institutional neglect”. In April 2018, a region in Colombia was considered as a “legal subject” with its own “common” rights. It became an international legal milestone.
The Colombian Amazon received this category from the country’s Supreme Court of Justice, which declared a legal “guardianship” and resolved the first judicial precedent ruling in all Latin America against climate change. The ruling stated that the environmental authorities in Colombia were not doing enough to protect the area from deforestation and the effects of climate change.
We at TCRN stress the need for all eco-aware citizens of our country to follow the example of the Colombian ruling and pressure our courts for exercising legal protection by part of the national authorities against environmental depredation against our national resources.