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The evolution of Casa Pueblo, Puerto Rico: From mining opposition to community revolution

Casa Pueblo began as a grassroots’ citizens group formed to oppose the Puerto Rican government’s plan to allow large-scale open-pit mining by international corporations in the central region in 1980. Its aims have since evolved to promoting community self-reliance and community-based self-management, while conserving cultural heritage and local and national ecological integrity. Its philosophy is based on a “social transformation model”: the affirmation of cultural (local) values, reinforcement of self-esteem, and promotion of selfreliance and self-responsibility. It implements this through community culture (i.e. through the use of art, music and field action), information gathering, sound science and research, and self-sufficiency through community enterprises, such as coffee production, a community store and eco-tourism.
In addition to successfully preventing the planned mining project, Casa Pueblo has also changed national mining and forestry policy. It has promoted sustainable forestry, developing a string of pro-poor, pro-environment forest reserves; developed a model of communitybased forest management; influenced government to create a national forest fund for the purchase and conservation of land of high ecological value; created the nation’s first biological corridor; shaped landscapes through encouraging better farming practices; launched an environmental education programme; brought scientific advice into the organisation; and demonstrated options for the use of renewable energy.

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