[Source – Narco News]
Local Communities Reject Operations On Their Ancestral Land
By Fernando León
Canadian mining companies have found a way to expand their operations in Mexico. Recently the Mexican government awarded 22 permits to British Columbia-based First Majestic Silver to mine for silver in the western region of the country.
The 22 permits involve an area of more than 6,000 hectors in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango, where the land is considered sacred to indigenous communities that inhabit the region. One mining permit in a Wixáritari (Huichol) territory violates Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, which stipulates the requirement that indigenous and native peoples be consulted about any project that affects the place where they live. In this case the consultation never happened, despite the fact that the web site for the Canadian corporation says, “We are proud to be partners in supporting and encouraging the preservation of indigenous customs where we operate, as an important historical legacy for Mexico.”
Furthermore, in early September Wixáritari communities gathered a council of elders who decided to reject any mining project on their land. The project would be developed in the Real de Catorce desert, where the ancient pilgrimage center of the Wixáritari is located. Along with the invasion of sacred ancestral territory, the mining would affect 3,500 residents living in 16 communities by polluting water springs, among other things.
According to a statement published on September 23, the affected communities are emphatically protesting against the entry of the mining corporation into the area, and are demanding that the permits authorized by the Mexican government be canceled. The statement ended in saying that the Wixáritari communities will “use all of the necessary resources to stop this devastating mining project, by utilizing all of the national and international legal resources at our disposal, as well as any peaceful actions of civil resistance that are necessary. ”
To make matters worse, last October the Canadian Parliament voted against bill C-300, which would have allowed for populations affected by Canadian mining companies to bring the abuses before the Canadian government by opening a legal case to look into the violations. The bill lost by six votes, validating the state of helplessness that many people in Mexico and Latin America are facing with the mining expansion. However, with the collusion between the Mexican government and the corporations many communities are organizing to defend their land, by launching mobilizations and making visible the destruction that the mining projects mean for them.