MAC: Mines and Communities

Mexico: Two mining opponents shot in Oaxaca

Published by MAC on 2012-06-26
Source: Amnesty International, Vancouver Coop, Straight

Just three days after a serious attack on a Guatemalan anti-mining activist, last week two others were  shot in a similar fashion at a location in Mexico.

On 13 June, Yolanda Oquely Veliz was gunned down by unidentified men on a motorcycle, after leaving a blockade near the entrance to Canadian Radius Gold's mine in San José del Golfo, Guatemala. See: Guatemala activist shot after protests against Canadian mining company

Then, on 16 June, Bertín Vásquez Ruiz and Guadalupe Vásquez Ruiz were shot at by three assailants in a pick-up truck, outside the Municipal Palace of San Jose del Progresso in Oaxaca, Mexico.

One of the gunmen was said be linked to the subsidiary of another Canadian mining company, Fortuna Silver. See: Mexico: Another opponent of Canadian mining is assassinated

New Aggression in San José del Progreso, Oaxaca

By National Assembly of People Affected by Environmental Conflicts

Vancouver Media Coop

16 June 2012

México D.F. - Today, June 16 2012, at around 8:10 pm, a new aggression was carried out against the community of San José del Progreso, Oaxaca, by gunmen presumably linked to both the Municipal President of San José del Progreso, as well as to the company Minera Cuzcatlán (Fortuna Silver).

At about 8:10pm a red Ram truck driven by workers from the mine and city hall, accompanied by underage youth apparently in a state of inebriation, passed by the Municipal Palace of San José where there were a number of people (we still don't know how many) and began to shoot.

Among the aggressors was a School Superintendant (Regidor de Educación), and among the gunmen was someone from the Municipal President's office and Evaristo Gonzáles (employee of the mining company).

Bertín Vásquez Ruiz was shot in the abdomen and another member of COPUVO, Guadalupe Vásquez Ruiz was shot in the leg and the left hand. Both are in hospital and we have been informed that both are now in stable condition.

The community of San José has not had a break all year: in January, Bernardo Méndez was murdered and Abigaíl Vásquez Sánchez was wounded; in March, Bernardo Vásquez was murdered and his brother Andrés and cousin Rosalinda wounded; the latter is still recovering from the injury to her one of her legs.

We request that your organizations write letters condemning these acts of violence and circulate them among your contacts and the press (see below).

Please circulate this information to your international contacts, especially in Canada. We will try to obtain addresses for Canadian organizations to turn this into an international scandal.

We will keep you informed.

National Assembly of Environmentally Affected Communities


UA: 178/12 Index: AMR 41/044/2012

Issue Date: 21 June 2012

Two members of a community organisation that opposes mining operations in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca were shot and wounded on 16 June. They and other members of the organisation are at risk of further attacks.

Bertín Vázquez Ruíz and Guadalupe Andrés Vázquez Ruiz were shot and wounded by three men in a pickup truck in the evening of 16 June. Both men are members of the Coordination of United Peoples of the Valley of Ocotlán, (Coordinadora de Pueblos Unidos del Valle de Ocotlán, CPUVO), and were standing with other CPUVO members outside the town hall in San José del Progreso, in Oaxaca State, at the time.

Bertín Vázquez Ruíz was hit in the stomach, and his condition is stable but serious. Guadalupe Andrés Vázquez Ruiz was hit in the leg and hand. He has been discharged from hospital in a stable condition. According to the CPUVO and a local human rights organisation, three men in the car were identified as a municipal official, the son of the municipal president and an employee of a local mining company.

The CPUVO is a community organisation that opposes the presence of a mine that has been operating in the municipality of San José del Progreso since 2006, when the municipal authorities granted it a concession for exploitation of silver and gold . The leader of the organisation, Bernardo Vázquez Sánchez, was shot dead on 15 March 2012, while driving with his family on a highway in Ocotlán.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:


Oaxaca State Attorney Genera
Lic. Manuel de Jesús López López
Centro administrativo del Poder Ejecutivo y
Judicial General Porfirio Díaz
Edificios Jesús "Chu" Rasgado y Alvaro Carrillo, Oaxaca de Juárez
Oaxaca, Mexico
Fax: +52 951 501 6900 (dial 20635 after automatic answer)~
Salutation: Dear Attorney General

Minister of the Interior
Dr. Alejandro Poiré Romero
Secretaría de Gobernación
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso, Col. Juárez
Delegación Cuauhtémoc
México D.F., C.P.06600, Mexico
Fax: +52 55 5093 3414
Twitter: @AlejandroPoire
Salutation: Dear Minister

And copies to:
Centro Regional de Derechos Humanos "Bartolomé Carrasco Briseño" A.C.
Calle Galeana 620
Oaxaca, Mexico,
C.P. 68000.


Additional Information

In 2006, a mining concession was granted by the municipal authorities of San José del Progreso to a company called Cuzcatlán., a subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Fortuna Silver Mines Inc. The CPUVO oppose the mine and have carried out various protests against its operation. The CPUVO and a local human rights organisation claim that the municipal authorities granted the company the mining concession without consulting with or informing the affected communities.

For many years, the communities of San José del Progreso have suffered social and political tension, particularly in relation to the political control exercised by the municipal authorities. The presence of the mine has exacerbated these tensions and the authorities have failed to ensure that attacks on those opposed to the mine are prevented or punished.

One of the members of the CPUVO, Bernardo Méndez Vázquez, was killed on 18 January 2012, and their former leader, Bernardo Vázquez Sánchez, was murdered on 15 March 2012.

Names: Bertín Vázquez Ruíz, Guadalupe Andrés Vázquez Ruiz

Gender m/f: Both male

Activists call on Vancouver mining companies to stop violence in Guatemala and Mexico

Oscar Morales of Guatemala opposes the practices of Canadian mining companies, not Canadians

By Carlito Pablo

20 June 2012

Human-rights activists are calling on two Vancouver-based mining companies to "publicly order an absolute halt to all violence" against people opposed to their operations in Guatemala and Mexico.

Melanie Schambach, Maryann Abbs, Alejandra López, and Sara Kendall made the demand in a letter they delivered on June 19 to the downtown offices of Radius Gold Inc. and Fortuna Silver Mines Inc.

The four activists were acting in the wake of recent attacks that targeted anti-mining protesters in Guatemala and Mexico.

One of these cases involved the shooting of Yolanda Oquely Veliz on June 13. The 33-year-old Veliz was shot by men on a motorcycle after she left a blockade near the entrance to Radius Gold's mine in San José del Golfo, Guatemala. She survived the attack but remains in serious condition.

They also cited the shooting of Bertín Vásquez Ruiz and Guadalupe Vásquez Ruiz on June 16. The two opponents of Fortuna Silver's operations in Mexico were wounded.

Schambach, Abbs, López, and Kendall were able to meet Simon Ridgway, chair of both Radius Gold and Fortuna Silver, and Ralph Rushton, president of Radius Gold, on June 19. Schambach said she was disappointed by what they heard from the two mining executives.

"They are saying that it's just a small group of protestors [in Guatemala and Mexico], that the NGOs are lying, and...that they're actually giving women opportunities of work," Schambach told the Straight in a phone interview.

Rushton said that Radius Gold has heard about the shooting of Veliz. He described it as a "very unfortunate event".

"We condemn any violence," Rushton told the Straight in a phone interview. "It's terrible. It's not something that we support in any way shape or form."

Rushton said that he could not speak for Fortuna Silver. Earlier this year, Fortuna Silver president Jorge Ganoza told CTV News that the company is not linked to the murder of anti-mining leader Bernardo Vasquez in Mexico on March 15.

In their letter to Radius Gold and Fortuna Silver, the four Vancouver activists expressed concern about the potential for further violence. "Those Latin American community members who are opposing your companies where they live are at grave risk," they wrote. "From this moment forward, any violence suffered by people who criticize the mining projects will be obviously linked to the companies themselves."

Oscar Morales of Guatemala was one of the guests who attended the recent annual general meeting of Amnesty International Canada at UBC.

In an interview on June 17, Morales said that he has a message for Canadians. "We're trying to explain to Canadians that we're peaceful communities and that our resistance isn't against Canadian society," Morales told the Straight. "It isn't against the Canadian people. It's against Canadian companies that try to operate mines in our country without consulting with us or respecting our lives."

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