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Deadly Conflict over Canadian Mine in Oaxaca

By • Jan 22nd, 2012 • Category: News & Analysis

source: OSAG

San José del Progreso, Oaxaca. In the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca one person was killed and another injured during a confrontation between mining opponents and police on January 18th. The middle aged farmer and a woman in her twenties – both indigenous Zapotecs – were among a group of villagers trying to block the path of an excavator working for the Canadian Mining Company Fortuna Silver. Bernardo Méndez and Abigail Vasquez were shot by local police and plainclothes gunmen working for the Vancouver-based mining company. San José del Progreso, located 50 km south of Oaxaca City, has been a flash point for violence since an alliance of local environmentalists and farmers occupied the gold and silver mine in early 2009.
Despite widespread resistance and an ongoing conflict that already claimed the lives of two people in summer 2010, Fortuna Silver began commercial operation of the mine last September. As the installations are located in an arid valley, smooth operation is heavily dependent on water access to process the ore. The contamination of the scarce resource is among the main concerns of the mining opponents, many of whom grow vegetables for a living and rely on clean water for irrigation. The inhabitants of Magdalena Ocotlán, a village adjacent to the mine that hosted a nationwide environmentalist convention in 2010, have so far successfully prevented the construction of a sewage duct leading to the ore-processing installations. Fortuna Silver has since tried to get water access at all cost, recently settling for a deal with San José’s pro-mining camp. The scheme allows the mine to tap into a newly built well on village lands to keep its operations going throughout the dry season. It was at the building-site of the new water duct that Bernardo Méndez was killed. He and his neighbors had gathered to stop the machine digging a trench because it had damaged their own fresh water access.
Mining operations in Oaxaca are backed both by the new governor Gabino Cué and the ousted Party of Institutionalized Revolution (PRI) which still enjoys widespread support in the countryside. Contrary to the precepts of international law, the indigenous population of the region was never consulted about the mining project. The recent violence has prompted various social organizations in Oaxaca, among them an influential teachers’ union, to demand the end of mining operations.

Alexander Debusman

Labor


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2 Responses »

  1. Thanks for covering the people’s defense of their whereabouts from imperialist corporations destructive corps. The difficulty of the matters go at other occasions further since for example, for fair sounding reasons such as making dams for electricity are relatively clean energy sources for example in Amazon the indigenous people stand against ‘socialist’ regimes.
    History also has shown the dams – for example the Osvan dam build in Egypt – while serving some human causes could also cause expansion of deserts by totally changing the ecosystem’s foundation.
    Numerous destructive results of dams, direction of rivers’ changing and so forth in China are also well known examples.

    Thus only local people directly taking the power at their own councils hands, a very difficult but necessary action seems to be the only fair way to care and directly comprehend of possible outcomes of making changes in their homes’ environment be it for a corporation interest or, a more fair sounding sort of action imposed by ranchers (like in Brazil for trees) or, the state.

  2. This article is a disgrace and factually incorrect. Alexander Debusman is an imbecile. He’s implicated Fortuna Silver Mines in the death of an innocent person. MEanwhile Fortuna Silver Mines has nothing to do with the protest. The people in this community actually live harmoniously with the mine as it provides jobs and the company reinvests back into the town bringing doctors, dentists and other types of aid. I REPEAT – THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE IS AN IMBECILE!! IF YOU GIVE MONEY TO THIS ORGANIZATION I STRONGLY SUGGEST YOU GIVE ELSEWHERE AS THESE PEOPLE DON’T HAVE THEIR FACTS STRAIGHT AND ARE DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD. I HOPE THE LAWYERS FROM FORTUNA SILVER SUE YOUR ORGANIZATION FOR LIBEL

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