DECEMBER 15, 2013 AT 7:22 PM – MICKEY



For the last few decades, governments have willingly transferred increasing portions of the state’s power to transnational corporations.

This has been done via “trade deals” and “investors’ rights,” and the process has been so gradual and artful that (in the beginning years, at least) most people didn’t notice it happening.


As a manifestation of that decades-long trend, a mining company is using “investors’ rights” to try to cudgel a Central American government intoletting it plunder precious forest land for gold.


The Crucitas deposit, situated below 70 square miles of rainforest in northern Costa Rica, is rich with gold. All a miner has to do is wipe out the trees and dig up that 70 square miles in an open-pit mine.

Seventy square miles of forest would be gone, but there would be some jobs for Costa Ricans and a shipload of profit for private investors.


The great majority of Costa Ricans say the costs outweigh the benefits, the forest is more important than the gold. In fact, three-quarters or more are opposed to open-pit mining of the Crucitas deposit.


Costa Rica’s government has, furthermore, shouted a firm “NO” to open-pit mining. The country’s Congress gave unanimous – yes, UNANIMOUS!

– approval to a ban on open-pit mining in 2010. The government then said no to the Crucitas mine in particular, in a move cheered by environmentalists.


That didn’t sit well with Infinito Gold, the Canadian company that was on its way to exploiting the Crucitas deposit. It has filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Costa Rica under the 1999 Canada-Costa Rica Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.


Infinito Gold is suing despite the widespread public opposition to the Crucitas mine, and despite Costa Rican legislators’ unequivocal rejection of the project and open-pit mining – and despite the country’s highest court having repeatedly upheld the government’s refusal of the project.


(Sidebar: An April 2013 article at says court decisions on Crucitas have been “contradictory.” Mining Watch Canada’s communicationscoordinator, on the other hand, told me by email last week that that’s not really true: “The different courts were ruling on separate issues; a green light from constitutional court did not override the invalidation of their permit by the administrative court.”)


As Jamie Kneen of Mining Watch Canada has said: “This case is another example of the damage corporations can do using investment protections in free trade and investment agreements to try and override the will of small, eco-conscious nations like Costa Rica. Yet the Canadian government continues to promote the entrenchment of corporate ‘rights’ in new trade and investment treaties like the new agreements with Honduras, China, the EU, and the countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”


Of course, it’s not just the Canadian government touting investors’ rights. So have the governments of countless other countries as neoliberalism swept the globe. That includes Democratic and Republican administrations alike in the United States, and it certainly includes today’s centrist POTUS.


An online petition telling Infinito Gold to drop the lawsuit can be found at


Jamie Kneen, Communications & Outreach Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada

MiningWatch <>MiningWatch