HAVANA, Oct. 5th. More than 60 people have been tried in Ciego de Ávila since February of this year for crimes linked to illegal gold extraction. A much smaller amount than in 2021, when 300 individuals were forced to pay fines and other sanctions, in addition to the confiscation of the materials used in their work, including tools and vehicles.
In the province, the problem has been going on for a long time. In January, the Minister of Energy and Mines, Vicente de la O Levy, was in the municipality of Baraguá, one of the most affected, where he asked to face the problem with “rigor, rationality and systematicity.”
The official alluded to the dangers of this practice, which puts health at risk due to the lack of adequate equipment, but also to the impact on the local economy, where gold is used as currency, further devaluing the peso.
The presence of the minister has been of little use and the Municipal Court of Baraguá has had to hear 16 cases of this type, including a complaint for disobedience, and another process for bribery – punishable by up to eight years in prison – is in full development. to illegal mining, according to what Humberto González Figueroa, a specialist in Criminal Law and president of the Popular Provincial Court of Ciego de Ávila, told the newspaper Invasor.
To these cases, we must add five trials held for soil contamination, in which six people were convicted, three of whom received prison sentences and two others, in correctional facilities.
In addition, there are nine pending trials for this crime, for which the accused remain either in provisional detention or free on bail.
Invasor, more than an informative piece, has dedicated a moralizing note to the matter, admitting despite everything that “no one teaches other people a lesson.”
The provincial newspaper explains the articles of the Penal Code and the Mining Law that punish this type of activity and points out that Camagüey, Las Tunas and Holguín are also among the territories that suffer the most from these crimes.
“Those who feel encouraged by easy enrichment and the conquest of gold, in the style of the North American West, must also keep in mind that the short, medium and long-term effects of exposure to mercury and silica dust, not only for them but also for their families and even nearby towns,” the note closes, attempting to paralyze illegal mining through alarmism.
Beyond health concerns, the Government is concerned about the plundering suffered by its mines in the center of the country
Beyond health concerns, the Government is concerned about the plundering suffered by its mines in the center of the country, almost all of them handed over to concessionaires such as the Australian Antilles Gold, which in March 2022 presented a project to partner with the state-owned GeoMinera. S.A. and carry out prospecting in several deposits on the Island, three of them in Ciego de Ávila, one in Camagüey (La Unión), another in Holguín (Aguas Claras) and La Demajagua, in Isla de la Juventud.
The problem of illegal gold extraction in Cuba began to worry the official press in 2018, when the official newspaper of the Communist Party published a report dedicated to the deaths of several people due to this activity.
“In search of a quick fortune, illegal miners not only take illicit advantage of the national heritage and damage the environment, they also endanger their lives,” the Granma text said.
At that time, this newspaper had already published, in its first months of life, a report in which it addressed the phenomenon, specifically in Holguín, where the miners themselves told about their work methods and the risks that threatened them.