Activists are calling for the Loma Miranda mountain in central Dominican Republic to be designated a national park to save it from mining threats, which they call "a new form of colonialism."
A government plan to use Loma Miranda for nickel mining would result in irreparable environmental harm, the activists say. That, in turn, threatens the communities that depend on the mountain, which takes up 16 square miles, to provide fresh drinking water and other resources to residents through its springs, rivers, and creeks.
"It's one of the most important mountain systems in the Dominican Republic," Victor Medrano of the Ecological Society of Cibao told Al Jazeera. "It produces enough water to provide to the surrounding communities irrigation for the entire region and hydroelectric power."
The government announced its plans to mine Loma Miranda in 2014, prompting protests by residents and activists around the country.
In response, the Dominican Republic Senate passed legislation in August to designate the mountain a national park and protect it from exploitation by mining companies. But President Danilo Medina rejected the bill.
Al Jazeera continues:
Refusing to back down, activists established a permanent camp at Loma Miranda, from which they have launched a national movement to protect the mountain and founded the headquarters of a future national park.
“By the people’s decision, Loma Miranda is already a national park, and we’re here to defend it,” Sánchez said.
In fact, more than 80 percent of Dominicans support a mining ban at the mountain, according to a 2013 Gallup poll published in the paper Hoy.
Despite their efforts, the government appears to be pushing forward with mining plans, including by offering exploratory arrangements to foreign energy companies. At least one company, Glencore Falcondo, is currently conducting research there.
"It's a new form of colonialism," Rafael Jiménez Abad, a Loma Miranda camp leader and university professor, told Al Jazeera. "Our fight is about life or death. It's capitalism versus nature."
This story was originally published on Common Dreams.