Archivo de la etiqueta: Guerra

Tecnología libre de sangre

Es probable que la placa de circuito impreso de tu móvil, ordenador o tablet contenga columbita-tantalita. Tal vez ignores que a este mineral se le conoce comúnmente como coltán y que el 80% de las reservas mundiales se encuentran en la República Democrática del Congo. Y probablemente también desconozcas que su explotación está directamente relacionada con los más de 5,4 millones de personas que se calculan han muerto desde que en 1996 estalló la guerra civil en aquel país. O de los más de dos millones de desplazados. O de las 106 mujeres que, según la ONU, son violadas a la semana allí…

  Sigue leyendo

Etiquetado , , , ,

«Para hacer un móvil tienen que morir cinco congoleños»


«Para hacer un móvil tienen que morir cinco congoleños»

La periodista Caddy Adzuba habla en Astorga de «la guerra olvidada».

Caddy Adzuba, ayer en Astorga. Caddy Adzuba, ayer en Astorga. jesús f. salvadores

ana gaitero | astorga 25/05/2013

«¿Os imagináis que a la población de Astorga le dicen que tiene que trasladarse: tendrían que pagaros y eso cuesta caro», planteó ayer la periodista congoleña Caddy Adzuba en la capital maragata, donde ayer habló de «una guerra olvidada». La que asola la República Democrática del Congo desde 1996.

La periodista, amenazada de muerte por defender a las mujeres de su país, participó en el ciclo Derechos Humanos, Derechos Sociales del Ayuntamiento de Astorga donde aseguró que más de 500.000 mujeres han sido violadas y mutiladas: «El cuerpo femenino es un arma de guerra muy barata y eficaz». En su país tampoco es imaginable que paguen a las poblaciones y las trasladen a otro lugar. Los rebeldes expulsam a la gente de sus territorios matando y masacrando, sobre todo en el este de la RDC. «En mi país es cien veces más barato pagar a un rebelde que negociar con el Gobierno»: Son ya 6 millones de muertos, «la mayor catástrofe humana depués de la Segunda Guerra Mundial», abundó.

El conflicto empezó en 1996 cuando llegaron los genocidas que huían de Ruanda. El entramado del conflicto es complejo. «Somos un país escandalosamente rico» pues en el subsuelo hay grandes reservas de oro, coltan, cobre, diamantes, gas metal, petróleo, uranio, casiterita y otros minerales muy cotizados en el mercado internacional. Pero la población subsiste con un euro al día. «Es necesario que mueran cinco congoleños para hacer un teléfono. Las multinacionales financian a los rebeldes y dentro de esta guerra las mujeres pagan con sus vidas y su existencia», recalcó. A su vez, en las multinacionales hay gente vinculada a la ONU. «El silencio internacional es cómplice», acusó.

Las violaciones de mujeres «no son para la satisfacción de los instintos sexuales» de los soldados rebeldes. Y esto lo saben porque las mujeres «no sólo son violadas, destruyen su cuerpo, el órgano que da la vida» mutilando sus clítoris y vaginas, introduciendo armas y plásticos que luego incendian. Los testimonios de las supervivientes son estremecedores. «A una mujer que preguntó por sus hijos le entregaron un saco de cráneos, le dijeron que durante su detención le dieron de comer con sus cuerpos. Pidió que la mataran porque no podía vivir. ‘Matarte es hacerte un regalo’ Le dijeron». La masacre empobrece al país porque «las mujeres son la base de la familia y las que trabajan», puntualizó.

«¿Esto pasa hoy?», preguntó una vecina. «Está pasando ahora. Hay 40 violaciones al día. Yo regresaré en unos días yentraré bajo las balas». Los cascos azules están en el Congo desde hace diez años, «sólo como observadores», denuncia la periodista de Radio Okapi, emisora independiente promovida por la ONU. Opta al Premio Príncipe de Asturias de la Concordia y pide el apoyo de la sociedad civil porque cree en una solución diplomática: «Mi país no necesita más muertes».

Etiquetado , , ,

My search for a smartphone that is not soaked in blood

My search for a smartphone that is not soaked in blood

Phone companies do too little to ensure the minerals they use are conflict-free. Here’s what you can do to hold them to account

Nokia And Windows Announce New Lumia Handset

Nokia smartphones. Of all the manufacturers, Nokia appears to have gone furthest to remove illegally mined tantalum from its supply chain. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty

If you are too well connected, you stop thinking. The clamour, the immediacy, the tendency to absorb other people’s thoughts, interrupt the deep abstraction required to find your own way. This is one of the reasons why I have not yet bought a smartphone. But the technology is becoming ever harder to resist. Perhaps this year I will have to succumb. So I have asked a simple question: can I buy an ethical smartphone?

There are dozens of issues, such as starvation wages, bullying, abuse and 60-hour weeks in the sweatshops manufacturing them, the debt bondage into which some of the workers are pressed, the energy used, the hazardous waste produced. But I will concentrate on just one: are the components soaked in the blood of people from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo? For 17 years, rival armies and militias have been fighting over the region’s minerals. Among them are metals critical to the manufacture of electronic gadgets, without which no smartphone would exist: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold.

While these elements are by no means the only reason for conflict there, they help to fund it, supporting a fragmented war that – through direct killings, displacement, disease and malnutrition – has now killed several million people. Rival armies have forced local people to dig in extremely dangerous conditions, have extorted minerals and money from self-employed miners, have tortured, mutilated and murdered those who don’t comply, and have spread terror and violence – including gang rape and child abduction – through the rest of the population. I do not want to participate.

None of the campaigning groups wants companies to stop buying minerals from eastern Congo. Global Witness and FairPhone, for example, point out that mining supports many families in a country where 82% are considered underemployed. But they also insist that the trade can be dissociated from violence: if, and only if, companies ensure they’re not buying minerals which have passed through the hands of militias. Given the potential damage to their reputations, you might have expected these firms to take the issue seriously. With a few exceptions, you would be wrong.

I began with the retailers, and the results were disappointing. Vodafone, for example, claims to have developed a social and ecological rating system, enabling its customers “to make informed decisions about the mobile phone they choose to buy”. Its website says this system “was launched in the Netherlands in 2011 and will be introduced to other European markets in 2012”. But all you get when you click on the link is “page not found”. In Dutch. As for its claim that an ethical score “is displayed next to the product, whether you are buying online or in store”, I have been unable to find any such scores on its UK site.

O2 says: “We want to share information about the social and environmental impact of the products we sell, to help customers make the right decisions.” Click on the link and what do you get? A list of its monthly tariffs. It does provide eco-ratings beside its phones, but the scores are unexplained, so we can’t see which issues are taken into account.

Of the manufacturers, Nokia appears to have gone furthest, and its efforts are quite impressive. Since 2001 – long before most other companies began to take an interest – it has tried to remove illegally mined tantalum from its supply chain. It now instructs its suppliers to map the routes these metals take before they reach the company. The problem is far from solved: it tells me that “there has been no credible system in the electronics industry that allows a company to determine the source of their material”. There are now six initiatives by governments, voluntary groups and companies to try to get the blood out of mobile phones, and Nokia is involved in all of them.

Apple‘s response was less detailed and less persuasive. To give you an idea of how complex the problem has become, it has discovered that its metals are supplied by 211 smelters, liberally distributed around the planet. Any of them could be using minerals seized by militias in Congo. But the fact that it has mapped its own supply chain is a good sign.

Two years ago Motorola launched a scheme – which looks credible – whose purpose is to buy conflict-free tantalum from eastern Congo. Projects of this kind, which start at the beginning of the long chain of suppliers, provide an income for local people, while guaranteeing that armed psychopaths have not profited from the sale of your phone. It’s hard to see why all the manufacturers can’t join it.

Other companies, hiding behind their trade associations, have done all they can to undermine these efforts. Two months ago a new provision of the US Dodd Frank Act, which obliges companies to discover whether the minerals they buy from Congo are funding armed groups, came into force. It should have happened before, but it was delayed for 16 months by corporate lobbyists. Thanks to their efforts, and after 17 years of ignoring the issue, companies will still be allowed to dodge their duty for another two years, by stating that they don’t know where the minerals come from.

Even this was not enough for them. Three corporate lobby groups – the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable – are now suing the US government to have the new law set aside. Global Witness has called on some of their members – including Caterpillar, Dell, Honeywell, Motorola, Siemens, Toyota, Whirlpool and Xerox – to publicly distance themselves from the lawsuit, without success.

It suspects that some firms are “using the anonymity provided by the industry associations to try to weaken the law”, while making public statements about how ethical they are. I ran out of time to pursue this question, but perhaps we could crowdsource it. Let’s contact the phone manufacturers to discover whether they belong to these lobby groups, and ask whether they will publicly denounce the lawsuit and suspend their membership until it is dropped. That would be a good test of where they really stand.

I haven’t yet made a decision. There are all the other issues to investigate, including the remarkably short life of these phones (a Twitter poll I conducted suggests that most people replace them after between one and four years). Perhaps I will wait until FairPhone manufactures a handset. Or perhaps I won’t bother. I might resign myself to less immediacy, less accessibility and a little more space in which to think.

Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at

Etiquetado , , , , ,

Blood in the mobile


To purchase the Blood in the Mobile Film, Worldwide

click on the following link

Blood in the Mobile is a documentary by director Frank Piasecki Poulsen.


Phones are financing war in DR Congo

We love our cell phones and the selection between different models has never been bigger. But the production of phones has a dark, bloody side.

The main part of minerals used to produce cell phones are coming from the mines in the Eastern DR Congo. The Western World is buying these so-called conflict minerals and thereby finances a civil war that, according to human rights organisations, has been the bloodiest conflict since World War II: During the last 15 years the conflict has cost the lives of more than 5 million people and 300.000 women have been raped. The war will continue as long as armed groups can finance their warfare by selling minerals.

If you ask the phone companies where their suppliers get minerals from, none of them can guarantee that they aren’t buying conflict minerals from the Congo.

The Documentary Blood in the Mobile shows the connection between our phones and the civil war in the Congo. Director Frank Poulsen travels to DR Congo to see the illegal mine industry with his own eyes. He gets access to Congo’s largest tin-mine, which is being controlled by different armed groups, and where children work for days in narrow mine tunnels to dig out the minerals that end up in our phones.

After visiting the mine Frank Poulsen struggles to get to talk to Nokia, the Worlds largest phone company. Frank Poulsen wants them to guarantee that they are not buying conflict minerals and thereby is financing the war in the Congo. Nokia cannot give him that guarantee.

Blood in Mobile is a film about our responsibility for the conflict in the Congo and about corporate social responsibility.

Etiquetado , , ,

Conflict Minerals In Your Phone Could Spur E-Recycling But Likely More Strife

Coltan, Democratic Republic of the Congo

While blood diamonds have been the subject of movies and have received great attention, a far lesser known issue remains – one of conflict minerals, the most common of which include cassiterite, wolframite and coltan as well as the ever lustrous gold.

Much of these minerals are extracted in eastern providences of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with various factions including both government forces and rebel factions looking to make a profit from these minerals, which are essential in the manufacturer of many high-tech gizmos and gadgets.

Part of the problem is that many of these minerals are necessary for the electronic components while the other part of the problem is that these are found in rather remote areas.

“Most of the assumed supply is in China,” said Glen Hiemstra,  futurist and author of  “Turning the Future into Revenue: What Businesses and Individuals Need to Know to Shape Their Future.”  “There are two sites in the U.S. but one has been considered uneconomic, which is surprising given the need, and the other in Idaho has been undeveloped for environmental reasons.”

As with blood diamonds, efforts have made to curtail the market for conflict minerals – at least in theory. In 2010 the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was supposed to create a global transparency standard to help break the link between natural resources and conflict and corruption.

Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank even requires U.S. listed companies using tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold from DRC or neighboring countries to carry out checks on their supply chain, and to disclose annually to the SEC whether their minerals purchases have benefited abusive armed groups.

Yet the trade continues, and according to the Enough Project, which recently issued its second annual company rankings report, “Taking Conflict Out of Consumer Gadgets: Company Rankings on Conflict Minerals 2012,” efforts have improved but some companies are still lagging behind.

While Intel, HP and Apple have reportedly established conflict mineral programs, video game maker Nintendo found itself at the bottom of the list and has reportedly made no efforts to trace or audit its supply chain.

“Companies need to hold a light to their supply chains and sweep the floors to get rid of the dirt,” said Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project senior policy analyst and co-author of the report. “Firms should trace and audit their supply chains to see who exactly their smelters are, and if they are using only conflict free smelters. They also should help develop a clean minerals trade in Congo, after years of turning a blind eye to their purchases.”

The problem will likely only increase as demand for consumer electronics increases world-wide, especially as China has begun to set limits on the exportation of its rare earth minerals, thus increasing the demand for minerals in conflict zones.

“Smuggling is already increasing because of increased prices for tantalum and gold, so companies need to be extra vigilant in the next months to make sure that the audits are even more thorough than before,” added Lezhnev. “The conflict minerals mafia won’t go down without a fight.”

But could greater efforts at recycling of used consumer electronics to reclaim the conflict minerals help solve this problem while also helping ease the ever-increasing amounts of e-waste that continue to pile up as consumers rush to buy the next big thing?

This would not be without its own new set of problems. While the SEC considers minerals obtained from recycled or scrap source to be DRC conflict free, the SEC does not plan to define what is recycled or scrap material – and companies are left their to establish their own definition, with so-called “supporting explanations.”

“It is possible but unclear, as recycling could also be a loophole for conflict minerals to seep in,” said Lezhnev.

The future is thus not so clear on how this might be resolved, but recycling will likely be one possibility.

“It seems like three alternate paths will emerge,” said Hiemstra, who noted that one could be a greater emphasis on recycling, a search for substitute materials or just as likely, “increased conflict over rare earth access in (places such as) Africa.”

“Given the need, I expect all three scenarios to emerge simultaneously,” he admitted, “along with a more dedicated search for, and development of new sources.”

For those in the conflict zone the search may not come soon enough.

Photo by nikkiwhaites.

Etiquetado , , ,