Dominican government halts a Barrick Gold shipment(Update)
Santo Domingo.- The Dominican Republic government Wednesday halted a gold shipment worth millions which the Barrick Gold Pueblo Viejo Corp. was about to export to Canada via the United States, from the Las Americas Airport’s freight terminal.
As first reported by listin.com.do, when the mining company’s representatives were doing the paperwork to ship the gold, the authorities received a phone call from the Customs Agency ordering to detain it.
President Danilo Medina reportedly instructed Customs director Fernando Fernandez to ban the export until the Canadian mining company reaches an agreement with the government.
The gold, in two sturdy pallets, was flown to the airport on a helicopter that which landed under tight security and taken by an armored truck to the freight terminal from there.
The precious metal cargo was to be shipped out of the country on flight to Miami and from there to Barrick Gold’s headquarters in Canada.
It was also learned that when Barrick Gold representatives asked the Customs officials about the measure, they said they had "orders from above."
Barrick Gold and the government have butted heads over the alleged exorbitant profits on skyrocketing prices in recent years, from the gold mined near the community Pueblo Viejo, Cotuí.
Barrick Gold agreed to let Customs, Airport Security and Civil Aviation hold the freight in military custody until the standoff is resolved.
Strong military presence
The Customs Export Dept. and the warehouse where the customs procedure was being carried out were under tight security since early morning with military and police agents bearing semiautomatic weapons.
The situation racked the nerves of some Customs employees and people who were there to retrieve merchandise in the warehouse.
Support from deputies
Early Thursday, several deputies voiced support for the government’s surprising measure, among them Ricardo Contreras, Maximo Castro and Demostenes Martinez, who affirmed that it wasn’t a simple halt, but instead the need for Customs to thoroughly inspect the shipment, “for which they need all the time that requires.”