CINGE are the only active environmental impact consultants on file with the Ministry of Minas and Petroleos, and they have made progress insofar as they now have Ministry permission to actually take samples within the 11 concessions for which they have the Terms of Reference (TOR, for the study and the Project’s Management Plan) approved. The next step for these 11 -Avalanche’s South Project (E1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 19, 20 and 21) and West Central Project (E15, 16, and 18)- is for the Consultants to open an office in a strategic location to socialize the TOR with Citizen Participation.  The latter is the key; if they do not fulfill this requirement -of informing and consulting local residents- Avalanche cannot gain legal permission for preliminary exploration. So far, I have heard nothing about CINGE opening an office strategic to the North Central concessions -presumably this would be in Los Bancos, which is where they held their supposed Audiencias. For the South concessions, it will probably be Santo Domingo de los Colorados.  I have only just notified some people within that group over the past weekend. They had just begun organizing people who want to conserve their forests, which are pretty thin in that part of the country after so many years of unstinting cattle and agricultural exploitation, and so doubly important; they were completely unaware that they were threatened by the Avalanche Project and are just beginning to organize. I gave them a basic packet of information and the only DECOIN booklet I had in hand.  We should do some follow-up, though.  I will see what can be managed. The representative of the Environmental Protection Direction of the Ministry of Mines and Petroleo emphasized that it is the second Audiencia that is key. If the community is NOT consulted, there is cause to complain and enter into further dialog with the Ministry, which will hinder CINGE and Avalanche in getting on with their process. And we still need to get the information out to the people in the concessions, a major task.

 The laws may or may not change as a result of pressures being applied daily to the Asamblea Constituyente and the Presidente.