Salesian Exploratory Movement
Battalion 35 “Father Joseph Parolini”
Esquel- Chubut- Argentina
“The explorer admires, respects and perfects nature because it is God’s work” (Art. N°9 Argentine Don Bosco’s Explorers’ Honor Law).
March 23, 2003, was the first major defeat for mega-mining in Argentina. In an unprecedented vote for the country, 81 percent of voters in Esquel-Chubut rejected the exploitation of a gold and silver deposit. Seventeen years after the plebiscite, no mining company was able to exploit deposits in Chubut and resistance to mega-mining grew along with the mountain range.
Esquel’s struggle is one more example of how the people, together, organized and in the streets, can discuss the production model and can stop transnationals and governments. After so much effort, Law No. 5001 was passed on April 9, 2003. Article 1 of this law states that “Metalliferous mining activity in the Province of Chubut shall be prohibited, as of the passing of this law, in the open-pit mode and the use of cyanide in mining production processes. With such law, the mountain people won, but we did not standstill. Every fourth of every month for 17 years, the citizens of Esquel have gone out to march, to remember that “the mountain cannot be touched” and that “water is worth more than gold”.
At the end of 2019, when we thought things were clear, something unexpected happened… in Mendoza, the local legislature had modified Law Nr. 7722 enabling the use of polluting chemicals for the exploitation of natural resources in its mountains. This news had a strong impact on Esquel since the provincial government of Chubut wanted to do the same with Law N°5001 and the date to do it was December 27th. That is why on Thursday, December 26, 2019, a new mass march was organized in order to stop this, to show that the people had a position taken and were not going to change their decision.
On December 26th, the people took to the streets like every fourth of the month, but that day was different, on December 26th hearts were more united than ever shouting strongly “NO is NO”, on December 26th more than one of us got goosebumps, on December 26th all of Esquel was in the streets, That December 26, the 35th Battalion of Explorers was there, defending nature and the environment that surrounds us, that environment in which we develop and go through our daily lives, that nature that allows us to do beautiful activities enjoying every moment of it.
On December 26, the members of the 35th Battalion of Explorers raised their flag and shouted: “NO TO THE MINE”.