MAC: Mines and Communities

More killings of anti-mining activists in Mexico

Published by MAC on 2012-11-05
Source: MiningWatch Canada, WW4 Report, COSYDDHAC

Hundreds of campesinos protested outside the Chihuahua state Governor's Palace in northern Mexico last week, following the October 22nd murders of two leading members of the activist organization El Barzón.

Protests around the murder of two Mexican mining campaigners
Protests around the murder of two Mexican
mining campaigners. Source: El Observador

Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras were shot while driving their truck on the highway near Ciudad Cuautémoc, west of the state capital, Chihuahua City.

Ismael and Manuela were both members of REMA-Barzón Nacional, the Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Communities and anti-mining activists.

According to the Commission for Solidarity and the Defence of Human Rights (COSYDDHAC), Ismael had been denouncing a smear campaign and threats to his life, for weeks.

In addition to being key activists opposed to the Cinco de Mayo project, owned by the El Cascabel mining company, they had also denounced the drilling of illegal wells in the Carmen river basin.

Mining activists opposed to Vancouver-based MAG Silver's mine project in Chihuahua, México murdered

MiningWatch Canada

30 October 2012

We express our indignation and extend our solidarity to the families of Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras of the community ejido Benito Juárez, in the municipality of Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico who were gunned down on Monday October 22, 2012 as they drove their pick-up truck along a main highway to a medical appointment.

Both Ismael and Manuela were members of REMA-Barzón Nacional, the Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Communities and anti-mining activists. According to a statement from the Commission for Solidarity and the Defence of Human Rights (COSYDDHAC), Ismael had been denouncing a smear campaign and threats to his life for weeks. In addition to being key activists opposed to the installation of a mine, they had also been denouncing the drilling of illegal wells in the Carmen river basin.

Just one week ago, El Barzon and other community groups submitted a complaint with the Secretary of Government (Mexican secretary of state) regarding these threats.

The human rights group further reports that Ismael and his son were assaulted on October 13, 2012 by a group of employees paid by the El Cascabel mining company.

El Cascabel is a closely related entity to Vancouver-based mining company MAG Silver and central player in the development of MAG Silver's 100 per cent owned Cinco de Mayo mine project. Many members of El Barzon and other movements in the municipality opposed the mine, given concerns about the heavy use of groundwater in this arid region.

In response to this tragedy various members of El Barzón have occupied the capital building, demanding Governor César Duarte provide answers to what they are calling a "state crime."

Legislators of the PRI [Institutional Revolutionary Party] in Chihuahua have been criticized in the press for having a cozy relationship with Canadian mining companies operating in the state and acting favorably toward their interests over those of affected communities.

We ask that the Canadian Embassy urge Mexican authorities and El Cascabel/MAG Silver in Chihuahua to respect the rights of the ejido Benito Juárez and the organization El Barzón and to ensure that community members can oppose the mine operations without fear of violence or stigmatization for defending land and water supplies.

All levels of government should guarantee effective, democratic channels to address the demands of local residents. We also call upon the Mexican judicial system to carry out a full and impartial investigation into the murder of Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras so as to ensure that the material and intellectual authors of this crime are brought to justice.

To express your solidarity with the families of Ismael and Manuela send this letter or your own via e-mail to the Canadian embassy mexico[dot]commerce[at]international[dot]gc[dot]ca - copying the Investor Relations Manager at Mag Silver Mr. Drew Martel dmartel[at]magsilver[dot]com and the TSX's Investor Relations Paul Malcolmson and Shane Quinn shareholder[at]tsx[dot]com and their Media Relations contact info[at]tsx[dot]com

Please also Cc: Ismael and Manuela's allies in Mexico at avillmarc[at]hotmail[dot]com, rodriguezalmazan[dot]emilio[at]gmail[dot]com

Signed by:

Aboriginal Justice Team of Christian Peacemaker Teams – Toronto Canada
Alianza Internacional de habitantes - México
Alianza Social Continental  - Colombia
Bolivarian Circle "Louis Riel” - Toronto Canada
Common Frontiers- Canada
El Barzón -  Chihuahua, México
Casa Salvador Allende- Toronto, Canada
International Festival of Poetry and Resistance - Canada
La asamblea veracruzana de iniciativas y defensa ambiental -  México
The Toronto Haiti Action Committee (THAC) - Toronto, Canada
The Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN) – Canada
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network - Toronto, Canada
MiningWatch - Canada
Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Rios (MAPDER) - México
Pobladores AC. - México
Red Colombiana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio - Colombia
Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA) - México
Toronto Forum on Cuba - Toronto Canada
Justicia for migrant workers - Toronto Canada

Mexico: lives claimed in Chihuahua water wars

WW4 Report

28 October 2012

Hundreds of campeisnos staged a protest outside the Governor's Palace in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua last week, following the Oct. 22 double murder of two leading members of the activist organization El Barzón.

Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras were shot while driving in in thier truck on the highway near Ciudad Cuautémoc, west of the state capital, Chihuahua City. Supporters are demanding a face-to-face meeting with Chihuahua's Gov. César Duarte to demand justice in the case, asserting that Solorio had faced numerous threats and attacks in recent weeks.

On Oct. 13, Solorio and his son Eric were beaten by men that activists claim were in the pay of Vancouver-based mining company MAG Silver. Solorio and fellow Barzonistas had been opposing the installation of the company's El Cascabel mine in the municipality of Buenaventura. The Barzonistas say the mine is illegally slated for Ejído Benito Juárez, a collective campesino agricultural holding. The site is belived to hold a rich vein of the rare element molybdenum.

Solorio was also leading efforts to oppose illegal well drilling by affluent farmers in the headwaters of the Río Carmen, depriving water to downstream campesino communities. An advocate on numerous issues facing Chihuahua's small farmers and campesinos, he had also been a leading voice in the state for the renegotiation of NAFTA. El Barzón, which began 20 years ago as an organization of farmers demanding debt releif, has a strong presence in Chihuahua, where it has blocked highways and occupied government offices to protest NAFTA. (La Jornada, Oct. 26; Vancouver Media Co-op via Upside Down World, NorteDigital, Ciudad Juárez, EFE, Oct. 24)

Last month, hundreds of farmers repeatedly blocked the rail line that runs south of Ciudad Juárez, establishing a protest encampment at the Ferromex railway tracks near the town of Villa Ahumada, preventing trains from passing through the zone and obstructing the construction of a gas pipeline.

Representing members of collectively-owned farmlands known as ejidos, the protesters insisted that the National Water Commission (Conagua) investigate and shut down illegal wells and small dams in the Río Carmen Basin. The protesters, in organizations El Barzón and the Democratic Campesino Front (FDC), contend that a small group of Mennonite farmers, with the collusion of state and federal officials, are illegally extracting water to the detriment of other producers and the environment.

The Mennonites, who have been established in Chihuahua for nearly a century, argue that they are being wrongfully singled out and harassed. Two years of drought in arid Chihuahua have exacerabted the conflict. (Frontera NorteSur, Sept. 13)

Water conflicts are also brewing in neighboring Sonora state, where the Yaqui indigenous group opposes the Sonora Sí development project, whose flagship scheme is construction of an "Independence Aqueduct" that would divert water from the Río Yaqui to state capital Hermosillo.

The Yaqui charge that the project will deprive their lands of water, and is being undertaken without their consultation. "The aqueduct is an unfair, illegal project, supported by the federal government," said Yaqui indigenous governor Juan Piña. But Sonora's Gov. Guillermo Padrés Elias has staked his political future to the six-year plan, and declares, "The Acueducto Independencia is a fact."

Tomás Rojo, coordinator of the Yaqui Defense Brigade, sees the project as a bid to undercut the state's agricultural production and thereby give a boost to imports from the US. "As long as there is a scarcity of water in the Yaqui Valley, foreigners will have the opportunity to export their products to Mexico," he said. (Americas Program, Oct. 23)

Murder of Anti-Mining Activists in Mexico a State Crime

COSYDDHAC - Vancouver Media Co-op

25 October 2012

CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO-The double murder of the leader of the Barzón, Ismael Solorio Urrutia, and his wife, Manuela Martha Solís Contreras, on Monday, October 22 at 2:30pm, has caused anger and indignation among the people of Chihuahua, Mexico.

The couple was shot while they were driving in Ismael's truck, at kilometre 26.5 of the highway between Ciudad Cuautémoc and Colonia Obregón. Faced with this state crime, activists from Chihuahua gathered in protest at the government buildings in Chihuahua City for an indefinite amount of time, demanding a face to face meeting with governor César Duarte, and demanding justice.

The double murder is the culmination of a multiple-week campaign against the diverse organizations that make up El Barzón. This campaign was denounced to the Secretary of Government one week ago by El Barzón and other community groups in Chihuahua. In the meeting with government representatives, activists told the Secretary of Government about the ongoing attacks on Ismael Solorio and his son, along with other Barzonistas who are opposing the installation of the El Cascabel mine in the ejído of Benito Juárez, in the municipality of Buenaventura, Chihuahua. El Cascabel is a subsidiary of Vancouver based mining company Mag Silver.

After Ismael Solocio and his son Eric were beaten on October 13 by a group of men paid by the mining company, a contingent from El Barzón and other organizations mobilized at the main government buildings to demand that the Chihuahua state government would guarantee the peace and the physical integrity of all members of the Barzonista movement.

Solorio was one of the leaders of opposition to the mine, as well as leading those active in denouncing illegal well drilling in the headwaters of the Carmen River, a problem that still has not been resolved. These illegal wells are being drilled by a small group of affluent people.

After the collective interview with the Secretary of Government, a group of people paid by the mining company went to the State Congress, where they were supported by legislators from the PRI. In this meeting, there were additional threats made against the majority of ejido members who oppose the mine.

It is very clear that in the commercial corridor of Cuautémoc-Colonia Obregón an organized crime group is operating, under the watchful eyes of the authorities. These are, most likely, the assassins of Solorio and his wife. The intellectual authors are clear: they are those who are part of the important interests affected by the activism of the Barzonistas, enabled by the inefficient and ignorant attitude of the Secretary of Government.

The firm decision of El Barzón and social organizations of Chihuahua is to continue occupying the government buildings until they can share their grievances directly with governor César Duarte, and until justice is done in this state crime, which is similar to the feminicide of Marisela Escobedo, murdered December 16, 2010 near the government buildings, regardless of the warnings state officials received about the threats to her life in the preceding days.

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