Ten Indigenous Zapotec communities reject Canadian San José mine in Oaxaca, Mexico

Published by Brent Patterson on

Two regional assemblies representing ten Zapotec communities have now rejected the San Jose silver and gold mine owned and operated by Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines through its Mexican subsidiary Cuzcatlán.

Educa Oaxaca reports: “During the Regional Assemblies of December 10 and 12 held in the Zapotec communities of Santa Catarina Minas, Ocotlán; and San Dionisio Ocotepec, Tlacolula, respectively; and before more than 2500 citizens, authorities of ten indigenous communities that are members of the No to Mining Front for a Future of All ratified their position of prohibiting mining in their territories and demanded that the Mexican State deny any environmental permit for mining exploitation, specifically the San José project of the Cuzcatlán mining company.”

At the first assembly, the communities of Monte del Toro, San Matías Chilazoa, San Martín de los Cansecos, Magdalena Ocotlán, Santa Catarina Minas formally rejected the mine. At the second assembly, the communities of El Vergel, Los Ocotes, San José del Progreso, San Nicolás Yaxe and San Dionisio Ocotepec also rejected the mine.

The statement from the second regional assembly highlights that: “Citizens were informed about the 10 years of mining exploitation, the environmental and social effects that Cuzcatlán/Fortuna has brought to Zapotec communities specifically in San José del Progreso and Magdalena Ocotlán.”

It further notes: “The first community being the place where the company was installed without any information or consultation and where it has caused the greatest damage with the murder of opponents and the breakdown of the social fabric; while in the second, the damage caused by the spill of the tailings dams that have contaminated the wells that supply drinking water to the community has been resented.”

Background

In March 2009, residents protested the lack of consultation and consent for the mine by setting up an encampment at the site of the mine. By May of that year, 1,000 state and federal police evicted that encampment using helicopters, tear gas and dogs.

The mine began operating in September 2011. The permit for it expired on October 23 of this year. But on October 25, Fortuna stated it had obtained a provisional injunction from a Mexican federal court that allows for the continued operation of the mine.

We continue to follow this situation with great concern.

The Peace Brigades International-Mexico Project began accompanying Services for an Alternative Education (Educa Oaxaca) in May 2013.

“In the 2nd Regional Assembly, municipal and agrarian authorities of El Vergel, Los Ocotes, San José del Progreso-COPUVO, San Nicolás Yaxe and San Dionisio Ocotepec deliver minutes of the Assembly that ratify their position of not allowing mining activity in their territories.”

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