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October 3, 2014
October 3, 2014

Greece: Gold mining in Skouries and the “golden” death

Author: chii rotto Translator: Eleni Nicolaou
Category: On the crisis
This article is also available in: eles
Greece: Gold mining in Skouries and the “golden” death

A crime is being committed in Greece nowadays. Under the pretext of the financial crisis, the environment and human dignity are being sacrificed on the altar of corporate interests, of political ambitions and of neoliberal capitalism exhibiting its most inhuman face in Greece.  People in Chalkidiki have been experiencing for a long time the consequences of the “saving the country at any price” policies, at the expense of human lives and the environment.

The state is offering gold mining, one of the most extreme “crimes of development”, as an antidote to a crisis born from development itself. This development leads to a vicious circle that with every repetition, conditions an increasingly atrocious exploitation. The manipulation of life itself by a global mafia of money brings about a golden death, let’s say, a death made ​​of gold.

It is no coincidence that the issue of such scandalous purchase and sale of the gold mines in Calkidiki happened during the time of economic prosperity, when little attention was paid, while the construction of the mines is starting now along with the crisis. Here the blackmail is clear: we either accept obviously destructive choices, or we will not manage to survive. The obligation to succumb to this blackmail posed by the “doctrine of development” (involving both the ingenious identification of individual interests with those of multinationals and the faith that the mines will not be capital intensive but job intensive) reveals the mortgaging of common goods and the environment. After the extraction of gold and a maximum 10-year cycle, the companies will walk away leaving behind an immeasurable environmental disaster and unemployment. Today, more than ever, under the guise of the crisis, they are sacrificing the environment and the future for the sake of a false development. And this is made possible through a legal framework that suits their interests, deflecting any procedure that typically might slow them down.

It is true that poor people are sold cheaply. And indebted countries are willing to sell their rights to investors. So they accept the devaluation and the downplaying of the dangers, and the hidden cost disappears from the equation. Nobody cares about the terms for the protection of the environment. When human life is devaluated, investments begin to be profitable.

What Greece is actually offering is not resources, but cheap labour as well as bodies and forests available to be contaminated.

Evidently, the Greek state is willing to risk everything to save what remains of its democratic facade. In order to criminalise the struggle of the people, the state pretends to be in the middle of an unbalanced “balance”, forgetting the state violence of its repression forces and of a whole industry producing accusations and stigmatising those who struggle by characterising them as “criminal organisation.”

If, however, we examine closely the events in Skouries, we will see that the Hellas Gold company and the police that protect it are those who have been acting as a criminal organisation: armies of desperate workers set up by the company to attack other inhabitants, fences around the mountain, security forces prohibiting access, video surveillance and alarms protecting the company’s “property”, heavy and, already, permanent police forces mark a climate of terrorism and continuous oppression. The invasion in the resisting villages, the unlawful collection of DNA samples and the preventive detention of inhabitants on unfounded accusations should be added to the above. An entire community has been criminalised. The list of the people accused and the accusations keeps growing along with the creation of genetic databases, with lists of “possible criminals” and achieving a more serious and much deeper form of control.

However, the movement continues and will continue to protest against an extraction that will ruin their lives and will cause irreversible damage to the environment. Criminal acts are being committed by the authorities and not by the resisting society.

We cannot allow these terrorisation policies to affect the dynamics of the movements. This fight will be justified only through its continuous progress, the solidarity between the movements and the denial to succumb to blackmail, terrorism and the “hostage climate” they are trying to establish and enforce. It will be justified only by expelling the company and cancelling any prosecution. And one step further, it will be justified only by deconstructing the very idea of development.

What will finally remain, when the company leaves, when the exploitation is finished and all this “development” is over? How is the price of water in the region valued? How is life itself valued and quantified in term of money? Development cannot solve the versatile society and environmental problems, which the craze for profit at all costs has increased. What we need are neither multinationals nor this free market “development”, but forms of solidarity economy with respect to human beings and their environment.

Nature can produce economic value. However, what it produces, essentially, is life and that life is not endless. So its protection takes precedence. If we continue with its exploitation, we will find ourselves in a crisis with no way out, due to the final destruction of all production and life means. This priority will help us out of all types of crisis.

We have to overcome the idea of ​​economic development. To overcome, also, the alternative development and aim to an ecologically viable and socially just society, based on a system of ​​different values.

Our land and our life in our hands.
By reclaiming and reappropriating our space and making room for our ideas, we can distribute them in the social field, reflecting an ideal future of equality, freedom and autonomy.
No to the plundering of nature. 
Struggle for land and freedom.

And as Orwell would say, “If your goal is not to stay alive but to stay human, then what is the importance of all that?”

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Greece: Gold mining in Skouries and the “golden” death by chii rotto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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  1. agsn 2015/03/25 at 07:13

    What was the point of this article. This sounds like a delusional rant. Lot of talk about sustainability and about how this work is short term and about how environmental exploitation.
    As human being we consume natural resources. where do you think the metal used in your fancy cars come from? The question you should be asking is if this consumption can be some in a responsible manner and the land restored once the mining is done.
    The argument about how this is short term for 10 years. From what I have read this mine is expected to run for 30 years, but that is besides the point. Your argument of work is temporary so better not to work, there is a word used to describe a person like that, a bum. You should be embarrassed to make an argument like this.
    As for the criminal type argument. I think the whole world has seen the video, to know that a bunch of morons with your line of thinking decided that a tree is worth more than a human life when they decided to douse the worked with oil and tried to burn them alive. I hope you do not expect the police to let the place go back to medieval times do you? what exactly were you expecting the cops to do?
    By your definition there should not be any factories in Greece. Just a service industry for tourists? I guess Greece is almost there given a collapse of industry and 25+% unemployment.

  2. Anne 2015/04/09 at 13:03

    There are not any facts or statistics here. This is just someones opinion.

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