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    Government and Artisanal Miners Reach an Agreement

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    After more than 6 hours of negotiations, the artisanal miners and the National Executive Branch commission reached an agreement that will enable the passage between San José and Guanacaste on the North Inter-American Highway. This was confirmed by the president of the Coopeoro Vigilance Committee, Enrique Campos, who participated in the negotiations on behalf of the miners.

    “What we wanted was achieved. First, to be able to sell the gold calmly. We are going to sell it to an institution that belongs to the people, which is a development association,”said the coligallero.

    For more than 24 hours, artisanal miners blocked the North Inter-American Highway, which prevented the passage between Guanacaste and San José. Under current conditions, they hadn’t been able to work for a month, Campos said.According to the miner, the mining representatives asked to begin lifting the blockade immediately.

    It already has been a month that we cannot sell our product and if we cannot sell anything we cannot have money to buy food and pay expenses”, said the coligallero.

    The Executive’s negotiating commission is made up of the Minister of the Environment, Andrea Meza, the Ministers of Finance, Elian Villegas, and the interim of Foreign Trade, Duayner Salas, as well as representatives of the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer ) and the National Directorate for Community Development (Dinadeco).In addition, it is made up of the Vice Minister of the Presidency for Political Affairs and Citizen Dialogue, Randall Otárola and the designated Vice Minister of Natural Resources, Franklin Paniagua.

    The agreement

    The miners accepted the government’s proposal, in which the authorities promised to reform decrees of the Ministry of the Environment and the General Directorate of Customs that prevented them from trading their gold. This despite having a concession to extract the mineral in Abangares.

    “The government undertook a clarification on the scope of the official letters issued by MINAE and the General Directorate of Customs in relation to the export of gold, to make it clear which types of gold are regulated and which are not,” says the proposal .

    In addition to the adjustment in the decrees, the government proposed to commercialize the gold – meanwhile – through the Cantonal Union of Development Associations, to whom it would provide ¢ 100 million for commercialization.

    “This would be like a non-reimbursable fund, with resources from the Pronamype, which is why it is aimed for mining workers that are in a situation of poverty. Those who qualify could be receiving a disbursement in the month of October,” said the Executive.

    This, however, will be a temporary measure, while the cooperatives —Coopeoro, CoopeAbangares and CoopeBonanza— register to be able to export the gold from Abangares legally and with traceability.

    Blockage

    The miners chose to block the passage on the Inter-American highway since last September 13th. They have allowed vehicles through for 10 minutes every two to three hours, Campos said.

    After more than 24 hours of blockades on the North Inter-American Highway, in Abangares de Guanacaste, artisanal miners blocked the passage on an alternative road in Tilarán, where traffic officials diverted vehicles.

    “Everything is collapsed. There is no movement of vehicles to Guanacaste or from Guanacaste to San José. Everything is locked. The only access would be through Cóbano looking for the ferry to go to Puntarenas”, said some witnesses.

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