March against Crucitas also brings criticism of Óscar Arias

Protesters and police gather at the court building. A.M. Costa Rica/Zach McDonald

Angered about an environmental issue, protesters marching from the Plaza de la Cultura to the Tribunales de Justicia Tuesday carried a simple motto: Justice is worth more than gold.

The protesters signs and speeches attributed a shift in the court´s 2010 ruling against a gold mining project in Cutris of San Carlos, Alajuela, to former president Oscar Arias Sanchez and ¨the new crusaders of savage capitalism.¨

Leaflets handed out around the protest stated that the practices of Arias have been ¨customary to try to manipulate the judiciary by twisting arms of judges, prosecutors and magistrates. . . . all public officials should be questioned and brought before the courts including Oscar Arias Sanchez.¨

The call to action was not attributed to anyone. It simply ended with ¨Estamos Indignados!¨

A year ago on Nov. 24, the Tribunal Contencioso Administrativo made a decision to cancel a concession granting Industrias Infinito S.A. the right to develop the open pit mine known as Las Crucitas

This Oct. 25, the administrative law chamber of the Corte Supremaa de Justicia (Sala Primera) accepted the appeal of the lower court’s decision. The appeal was lodged by Industrias Infinito and a host of government agencies seeking to defend their actions in the case.

“The intrusion of political influences and the interests of the company within our jurisdiction have reached such a degree,¨ said Ana Beatriz Hernandez, environmental activist, ¨that it is intolerable to continue to allow Infinito to remain in our country.”

Industrias Infinoito S.A. is the subsidiary here of the firm Infinito Gold Ltd. The firm changed its name earlier this year from Vanessa Ventures. It is based in Calgary, Canada.

A petition signed by protesters at the steps of the court demanded the Sala IV constitutional court reject the annulment, other appeals by state entities be withdrawn and lawyers and judges associated with Infinito be punished in an exemplary manner for ¨such a monstrosity.¨

The offices of John Morgan, president and CEO of Infinito Gold Ltd. did not answer attempts for a statement.

Las Crucitas contains at least a million ounces of gold, but the open pit process involves using cyanid to leach out the gold. This concerns environmentalists. But the latest spark that generated the protest was the allegation that a replacement magistrate for the Sala Primera slipped copies of a draft decision to company officials. The magistrate so named quit and a criminal investigation has been launched.

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