PBI-Mexico accompanied ASMAC supports the fight for Indigenous land rights against mining concessions in Chihuahua

Published by Brent Patterson on

Isela González, director of ASMAC. Photo by Thom Pierce/ The Guardian.

The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project has accompanied the Sierra Madre Alliance (Alianza Sierra Madre, A.C. or ASMAC) since 2018.

In turn, ASMAC accompanies Indigenous communities such as Coloradas de la Virgen in the Sierra Tarahumara region in the northwestern state of Chihuahua.

That is where Julián Carrillo Martínez was killed on October 24, 2018.

In a December 2020, Graciela Martinez of Amnesty International wrote: “Indigenous Rarámuri defender Julián Carrillo [was] murdered two years ago in the Sierra Tarahumara in northern Mexico after expressing his opposition to a mining concession in his community’s territory because of its social and environmental impacts.”

Kathy Price at Amnesty International Canada has further specified: “The assassination came just a week after Julian spoke out against the environmental impacts of a mining concession awarded by authorities to a Canadian mining company without the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous people whose lands would be impacted.”

Aristegui Noticias/Mexicans Against Corruptions and Impunity (MCCI) have also noted: “When he was killed, Julian was the president of communal property. Its function was to take care of everything that is of the community: trees, water and territory.”

“Julian was murdered shortly after he and his companions in defending the forests of Coloradas de la Virgen began to denounce the existence of these mining concessions for the exploration and exploitation of minerals in their community.”

That article adds: “If the areas where there is a mining concession are painted red on a map of the Sierra Tarahumara, much of the territory would be scarlet.”

The mines in Chihuahua include at least two Vancouver-based mining companies: Pan American Silver Corporation (and its Dolores mine) and Minefinders Corporation Ltd. (that some suspect displaced 60 families to open a silver and gold mine in Madera).

The Aristegui Noticias/MCCI article also notes the Calgary-based TransCanada (now renamed TC Energy) pipeline in the north of Tarahumara.

In December 2019, Martha Pskowski wrote: “Several indigenous activists, including Carrillo and Isidro Baldenegro López, a 2005 recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize, were killed [in October 2018 and January 2017 respectively] after standing up to criminal organizations that traffic drugs and illegally harvest timber in the area.”

Pskowski comments: “Those acts of intimidation discouraged some Rarámuri people from speaking out when the energy company TransCanada began building a natural gas pipeline through the area.”

In the coming weeks PBI-Canada and PBI-Mexico plan to organize a webinar that will feature the director of ASMAC, Isela González, along with another defender opposing a Canadian mine in the state of Oaxaca. More details on that coming soon.

For more on González, please see The Guardian feature: ‘A hitman could come and kill me’: the fight for indigenous land rights in Mexico.

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