On Friday, the gold mining company Industrias Infinito filed a lawsuit against Citizens Action Party (PAC) lawmaker Claudio Monge, for alleged defamation against the firm.
According to a brief press statement, the firm wants the legislator to pay $600,000 in compensation for hurting the company’s reputation when he opposed its plans to extract gold in San Carlos, in northern Costa Rica.
Monge actively supported several groups of environmentalists who stopped the mining project by filing a lawsuit against Industrias Infinito on April 16, 2010 (TT, April 30, 2010).
On Nov. 24, 2010, the Administrative Appeals Court revoked the company’s permit, when judges discovered several irregularities that occurred during the licensing process (TT, Jan. 21).
“We are defending the integrity of the company,” said Industrias Infinito spokesman William Méndez. “We are requesting a $600,000 compensation to give to the people of San Carlos who were directly affected with the mine’s closure.”
Méndez denied the legal move seeks to intimidate gold mining protesters and assured the company it’s on the side of the “powerless.”
“This politician [Monge] is the one who intimidates, because he holds a high government position,” he added. “If [Monge] is so sure about some negative things he said about our company from his congressional seat, he will have no problem proving them before a judge.”
Monge said he is ready to face any trial and that he would be willing to provide any document that supports his opposition against mining projects.
“[Industrias Infinito] is trying to scare people but they don’t scare me at all,” Monge said. “This is all part of a show because the company is desperate.”
According to the Costa Rican Constitution, lawmakers are protected against any kind of legal prosecution by an immunity clause. However, Monge affirms he would waive this protection.
Monge also explained that if he is sanctioned, he does not have the money to pay the compensation.
“I would offer the company some sort of community work by planting some yellow almond trees as a way to make up for the ones it destroyed,” Monge quipped.
Méndez told The Tico Times that additional lawsuits could be filed in the coming months against nonprofit groups as well as citizens who “affected the image of the company.”