MAC: Mines and Communities

Mexican anti-mining leader assassinated in Chiapas

Published by MAC on 2009-11-30

An indigenous Mexican anti-mining campaigner, Mariano Abarca Roblero, has been assassinated in Chiapas, adding to the list of global anti-mining campaigners who have died defending their communities.


Assassination of a Leader Opposed to Mining Exploitation in Chiapas

by Elio Henriquez, Originally published in La Jornada, Translated by Megan Cotton-Kinch

28 November 2009

On Friday night, 27th November, Mariano Abarca Roblero was assassinated. Mariano was one of the strongest opposition leaders against mining exploitation by the Canadian mining company Blackfire in the hills of Chiapas, Mexico.

Gustavo Castro, of the Network of Mexicans Affected by Mining (REMA using the initials in Spanish), said that according to those close to Mariano he was assassinated around 8:30pm in the main part of Chicomuselo, close to the border with Guatemala, by a motorcyclist carrying a high-caliber weapon.

They explained that Abarca Roblero was talking outside of his house with Orlando Velásquez, also a member of REMA-Chiapas, when an unidentified person shot Abarca in the head and the chest. Velásquez was also was wounded and was transported immediately to a hospital in the city of Comitán.

Last August 17th, Mariano Abarca was arraigned by the State Prosecutor General after he was accused by Blackfire of various charges, including organized crime. Due to a national and international outcry against this injustice, he was freed on the 24th of the same month, where he immediately joined the sit-in with his fellows in the municipal seat of Chicomuselo to press for the immediate removal of the company. At the end of August, the participants in a second meeting of Chiapas members of REMA in Chicomuselo, celebrated his release.

Gustavo Castro put forth his theory that the murder of Mariano Abarca is related to Mariano's years of campaigning against mining exploitation.

According to data from REMA, the federal authorities have authorized 54 permits for mining exploitation to Canadian Companies in their municipalities: to Blackfire to extract barite (barium sulphate), gold and antimony in more than 10 concessions; Linear Gold Corp, with 24 concessions, mostly gold and some of them granted for 50 years; Frontier Dev. Group with 12 projects, and also New Gold Inc. with three concessions and Radius Gold with seven, although apparently these last ones have been withdrawn.

Indigenous leader assassinated in Mexico

28 November 2009

An attacker riding a motorcycle has shot and killed indigenous leader and anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca outside his home in southeastern Mexico.

Abarca "was assassinated in a cowardly fashion outside his home" late on Friday, said Gustavo Castro, a spokesman for the Mexican Network of Communities Affected by Mining (REMA), adding that another member of the group was seriously wounded, AFP reported on Saturday.

An unidentified individual riding a motorcycle opened fire on the indigenous leader, shooting him twice in the head and in the chest in Chicomuselo, a town in the mountains of Chiapas state, Castro said, citing relatives.

In August 2009, Abarca was arrested for a week after he led highway blockades to prevent Canadian and Mexican-owned corporation Blackfire Exploration Ltd. from transporting minerals from a Mexican barite mine to processing facilities.

In September, the Mexican Congress demanded that the Chiapas government suspend arrest warrants and related law enforcement activities targeting five anti-mining activists in the area. Chiapas community leaders have protested the mining operations led by 54 mostly foreign companies, saying they have not been properly informed about the impact they may have on their health, land, and environment.

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