PBI-Canada webinar on the struggle against Fortuna Silver in Oaxaca, the call for the cancellation of mining concessions

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo by Avispa.

To register for our webinar on Thursday March 11 at 3:30 pm EST featuring Neftali Reyes of Educa Oaxaca and Isela Gonzalez of ASMAC, please click here.

Independent journalist Samantha Demby has reported on opposition to the Cuzcatlán Mining Company, the wholly owned subsidiary of Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines operating in the Zapotec town of San Jose del Progreso, Oaxaca, Mexico:

Fortuna says it contributes to the economy of the impoverished region. But native Zapotec residents accuse the multinational of inciting violence that has killed five activists. They say, a spill at Fortuna’s San José mining project [in 2018] unleashed toxic waste into the Coyote River, leaving one town without drinking water.

In 2017 alone, Fortuna’s Mexican subsidiary, Compañía Minera Cuzcatlán, reported a net income of $66.3 million. Meanwhile, in San José, the majority of residents lack basic services such as potable water and access to medical care. 88 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, with nearly half living in extreme poverty.

The conflict began in 2006, when representatives of Fortuna started signing usufruct agreements with individual landowners. The company also got permission to explore for minerals through closed-door negotiations with municipal authorities.

Community members, however, were never informed of the company’s intention to exploit their subsoil, as is required by the International Labor Organization’s Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169.

In March 2009, a group of residents protested this violation of their rights by setting up an encampment at the entrance to the mine. In May, 1,000 state and federal police—acting at the request of the mining company and its local political allies—evicted protesters using helicopters, tear gas, and dogs.

Residents have also denounced violence at the hands of armed groups that are linked to municipal authorities and defend the interests of the mining company. In 2012, pro-mining groups attacked opponents several times using military-grade firearms. By the end of the year, two prominent activists had been killed and eight people had been injured.

To read the full article by Samantha Demby published by NACLA, please click on Mining Culture Wars Escalate in Oaxaca.

To register for our webinar on Thursday March 11 at 3:30 pm EST featuring Neftali Reyes of Educa Oaxaca who will provide the latest update on this continuing struggle, click here.

Photo: PBI-Mexico accompanied Educa Oaxaca at a ‘Guelaguetza against mining’ in June 2019. The gathering demanded the cancellation of the 322 mining concessions in Oaxaca, including the concession held by Fortuna Silver/Minera Cuzcatlán.

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