MAC: Mines and Communities

Government Documents Reveal Canadian Embassy Backed Mining Abuses in Mexico

Published by MAC on 2015-02-25
Source: Statements (2015-02-25)

Government Documents Reveal Canadian Embassy Backed Mining Abuses in Mexico

MiningWatch Canada release

25 February 2015

Canadian diplomats in Mexico were complicit in Toronto-based Excellon Resources’ efforts to avoid redressing its land use contract and poor working conditions, and supported repression against a peaceful protest.

A report based on internal documents obtained from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) concludes that Canadian diplomats in Mexico were complicit in Toronto-based Excellon Resources Inc.’s efforts to avoid redressing a violated land use contract and poor working conditions, and supported repression against a peaceful protest.

The report from MiningWatch Canada and the United Steelworkers, Unearthing Canadian Complicity: Excellon Resources, the Canadian Embassy and the Violation of Land and Labour Rights in Durango, Mexico, is based on a careful review of nearly 250 pages obtained from DFATD during a period of heightened conflict and repression from July to November 2012.

At this time, landowners from the Ejido La Sierrita and workers from Local 309 of the National Miners Union at Excellon’s La Platosa mine undertook a peaceful protest for several months, after filing two formal complaints in Canada alleging serious land and labour rights violations without result.

Despite full knowledge of these complaints and Excellon’s refusal to engage in dialogue to address them, the Canadian Embassy planned to share information with Excellon that was gathered from community members and their legal counsel without their consent, while helping the company forge high level connections that led to violent repression against the protest.

“Nowhere in the internal communication reviewed for this study did we find evidence of Canada’s oft-stated policy that it encourages Canadian mining companies to act responsibly and to respect international standards. The Canadian Embassy’s one-sided support for Excellon is a blatant example of Canadian government promotion of corporate interests at the expense of workers and communities,” remarked Ken Neumann, Canadian National Director for the United Steelworkers.

Forewarned that Mexican police, army, and government officials were meeting to plan to evict the protest in response to the Embassy and company lobby, one trade commissioner wished the company well, just the night before police and army moved in on the protest camp. 

“The Embassy’s apparent disregard for the safety of peaceful protestors in a country where human rights activists, journalists, and community leaders are being injured and killed far too often is appalling. These findings confirm our fears that the Canadian government’s policy to harness its whole diplomatic corps to serve private interests abroad – something it calls “economic diplomacy” and announced in its Global Markets Action Plan – is bound to contribute to further harm,” said Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. 

The disdain and repression that the Ejido La Sierrita members experienced in 2012 ended Excellon’s welcome in their community. They have since taken action to rescind their contract with Excellon and thereby bring their relationship with the company to an end.

The report is available here: Unearthing Canadian Complicity: Excellon Resources, the Canadian Embassy and the Violation of Land and Labour Rights in Durango, Mexico

Contacts:

Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, jen@miningwatch.ca, (613) 569-3439
Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers, (416) 544-5966 or (416) 434-2221 mobile


Community Responds to Report Revealing Complicity between Canadian Embassy in Excellon Violations against La Sierrita

Ejido La Sierrita de Galeana, Tlahualilo, Durango

25 February 2015

We, the community of ejido[1] La Sierrita, express our indignation regarding the actions of the Canadian Embassy in failing to comply with its obligation to promote and protect our community’s human rights in the face of the violations perpetrated by the Canadian mining company Excellon Resources Inc. The report entitled “Unearthing Canadian Complicity: Excellon Resources, the Canadian Embassy and the Violation of Land and Labour Rights in Durango, Mexico,” published by MiningWatch Canada and United Steelworkers, confirms the decisive role played by the Embassy in violations of our human rights that occurred in 2012.

The report demonstrates the unconditional support which the Canadian State offered to Excellon in order to protect the company’s economic interests at the expense of our human rights. In particular, the report deals with the period running from July to November 2012, when we carried out a peaceful protest on ejido land bordering the La Platosa mine.

The following are some of the revelations we find most outrageous:

It is important to note that the unconditional support that the Embassy provided to the company was particularly unjust and unreasonable considering our continued willingness to engage in dialogue, in contrast to the company´s repeated refusal to discuss its numerous breaches of the Temporary Occupancy Agreement for the use of ejido lands. Nevertheless, we trust that the Canadian Embassy will be willing to build a relationship with us based on respect for our human rights.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that despite the unequal conditions under which we have sought to defend our human rights, on January 23 of this year we were notified of the decision ordering the release of the rental payment due to the ejido La Sierrita for use of our lands by the Excellon mine. The decision represents an important step forward for rural and indigenous communities seeking to defend our human rights and gain access to justice for violations committed by transnational companies.

SINCERELY

LA SIERRITA EJIDO COMMISSION

[1] An ejido is a rural community where the land is owned collectively.

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