Amerindians accuse mining company of exploitation

Amerindians accuse mining company of exploitation

DECEMBER 2, 2013 | BY  |

Recent exposures of tyrannical tactics employed by foreign investors to control locals have become a cause for worry, especially in the Amerindian communities, such as Lethem.
News reaching this publication has established that on a mining site in Kurubrong, Region Eight, there are at present, several hundred Amerindians being held against their free will to work under poor conditions for menial pay.

According to information received, the company recruits its employees to work at the mining site deceitfully informing that they pay attractive wages with good benefits.
One of the ill-fated employees who happened to be caught in the trap but managed to get out, related to Kaieteur News that a “bus driver” would normally make rounds, particularly into the Region Nine communities, advertising that “his boss man” pays workers $5000 per ounce of gold retrieved.

The man explained that word of the offer need only be mentioned before men in the communities are sauced up to leave their families to take up the job in Kurubrong.
He said that upon agreeing to take up the offer, the men are first taken to the company’s main office in Georgetown where a meeting with the owner of the company exposes the ‘real deal’.
According to the former employee, his visit to Georgetown was most upsetting, especially after he found out that the wages being offered was less than half of what was initially advertised. He said that the employees who were recruited were told by “the real boss” that the company is paying $2,000 per ounce gold, and not $5,000.

“We go for the money. We left our families thinking we will get the pay. When we go to town (Georgetown) it’s a different story,” the man lamented.

More impacting was the fact that refusal of the offer was out of the question as the men were empty handed and had no financial means of returning home.

“We couldn’t refuse and go back to Lethem. We didn’t have money to go back to Lethem,” he said, while noting that the bus fare from Georgetown to Lethem is $12,000.
Added to that, all identification documents were seized and the men were told that they are required to work six weeks before receiving their first salary.

Further, conditions on the grounds forced the unacceptable pay into the backseat. Of the most unbearable was the order that payment for every meal was to be discounted from the wages and salaries received.

The man expressed that it was upsetting to know that they were “fooled” into taking up the offer only to be exploited. He noted too that the tactics being used are not being encountered for the first time, since other companies do the same to retain workers for their grounds.
He is therefore calling on the Amerindian Affairs Ministry to look into the matter so as to bring relief to those who are being “taken advantage of.”

“They have to investigate and take serious action. Everyone should get the money that they work for,” the man advocated.

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  • Deen  On December 2, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    This is outrageous!
    It’s an insult to injury for foreign or domestic capatilists to continue to exploiting and deceiving Guyanese, especially the indiginous people.
    Where are the labor officials and the Amerindian Affains Ministry?
    As we know, the price of gold today is about US$1,250.00 per ounce which is equivalent to approximately GUY$2.5 million per ounce.
    These facts show how these poor people are outrageously and shamefully exploited.
    These con artist capitalists should be jailed for gross exploitation.

  • Cliff Thomas  On December 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    If this is true, the administrators should be brought to GT together with witnesses and placed before the courts. If founf guilty, the Govt should take away their licences and further be made to pay a big fine and imprisoned for a long time. The Amerindians are our people and Guyanese at that and should not be exploited by these evil ones. I believe the Amerindian who spoke out against these tyrants. Please move fast Amerindian Ministry and stop these exploiters from doing more damage to our people.

  • Ron. Persaud  On December 4, 2013 at 2:49 am

    Ah! The lure of gold.
    Fast backward 50 or 60 years ago and the play was the same. The scene was the Rupununi savannahs at the foothills of the Kanuku mountain range. The actors were different.
    The “exploited” were the Wapisina people of Aishalton village. The exploiters were the R.D Balata Co.
    I am not sure whether R. D. stood for Real Daylight. Look here.
    And the product was balata, obtained by bleeding the sap of the balata or bullet wood tree, Manilkara bidentata? Look here.
    The ‘exploitation’ was the “general store”. The Amerindian was invited to buy stuff from the Company run store.
    Which he did.
    Often to the extent that he ended up owing the company at the end of the season.
    I have to confess to being an exploiter too.
    The standard price of a chicken in those days was $1.00.
    So I gave a dollar to a pupil (I was a teacher) and he returned shortly with a plucked chicken ready for the pot.
    Next morning, the Head-teacher, Laurindo James, complained to me than someone had stolen his fattest chicken ‘last night’.
    Then there was the Rupununi uprising and the GDF was sent out to quell it.
    And inasmuch as I did not want to believe the stories I heard, I felt that they could be true.
    And I will leave it at that.

  • Ron. Persaud  On December 4, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Here is the intended link to the balata tree.
    Sorry for the double reference

  • Ron. Persaud  On December 4, 2013 at 8:34 am

    I will get this right.

  • Dr.Michael Gilkes  On December 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

    It is surely time that our Government practises what it preaches about the rights of our fellow Guyanese and First Peoples. There should be immediate action to make an official enquiry into what seems to be exploitation by mining companies. What has the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, in particular, got to say? They need to look into this complaint urgently. If it is supported by fact the gold mining company involved should brought to justice and the Amerindian workers involved fully compensated.
    We all thought the ‘gold rush’, started by Raleigh with his ‘El Dorado ‘obsession and the rape of the interior and its inhabitants for gold by so-called Conquistadores was a thing of a past. Has nothing changed? Any affront to our Amerindian population is an affront to all of us.
    Michael Gilkes

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