Communities protest new permit for Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines in Oaxaca, Mexico

Published by Brent Patterson on

On March 2, Educa Oaxaca highlighted: “Despite the resounding opposition of communities, Minera Cuzcatlán [a subsidiary of the Vancouver-based Fortuna Silver Mines] received permits from SEMARNAT [the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources] to exploit the territory for ten more years [to 2031].”

It notes the 10-year permit was granted to the mining company on December 14, 2021.

(Avispa clarifies: “The extension of the project was granted for 12 years, being that ‘the useful life will be 10 years’ and two more years for the closing activities.”)

Their post notes: “The 12 communities that make up the Front No to Mining for a Future of All demand the cancellation of the mining project for endangering life, territory and the environment in the region. …The Oaxacan Assembly in Defense of Land and Territory also calls on the Mexican government to cancel the San José mining project.”

This media release further says: “Violent evictions, murders and aggressions against defenders of the territory, hiring of armed groups, community division and polarization, pollution of the environment, mainly of water, invasion of territories, among other violence, have been the ‘benefits’ of the mining project in the region of Central Valleys in the last ten years.”

Estado 20 reports: “Neftalí Reyes Méndez of the Oaxacan Collective in Defense of the Territory, said that this situation represents a betrayal for the peoples because in January 2022 they went to the Semarnat delegation to deliver their signatures and minutes in which they declare their territories as prohibited for mining. And they were never informed that the permits to the mining company had already been delivered since December 2021.”

Reyes Méndez says: “Today we come 12 communities of the Central Valleys to denounce that not only the Semarnat, but also the federal government, has betrayed, lied and stolen from the peoples of the Central Valleys of Oaxaca by granting 12 more years of commercial exploitation of gold and silver in the backs of the communities, behind the backs of the people, behind the backs of the citizens, behind the backs of the communities that are living and suffering the environmental impacts generated by the San José mining project.”

The video of the media conference can be seen here.

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.

El Universal reports there have been four deaths and eight people shot in direct relation to the mine between 2010 and 2012.

Community leader Bernardo Méndez was killed on January 18, 2012, after he and others confronted a municipal crew working on a water pipeline they suspected would divert water for use at the mine. And Bernardo Vásquez was killed on March 15, 2012, as he travelled back home from the Oaxaca airport.

The permit for it expired on October 23, 2021. As noted above, the new permit was granted to Fortuna/Cuzcatlan on December 14, 2021.

We continue to follow this situation.

“Twelve communities from the Ocotlán Valley carry out the symbolic takeover of @SEMARNAT_mx in the city of Oaxaca to protest against the 12-year extension of operations granted to the Cuzcatlán mining company. They accuse treason of dependency.”

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