According to the “Mining Panorama of the State of Oaxaca” of the Mexican Geological Survey, from September 2019 to date, 322 mining concessions have been granted in Oaxaca, which, according to a study by Maderas del Pueblo, for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec It covers 47 thousand 717 hectares for mining of copper, silver and gold, they are owned by three Canadian companies (Minaurum Gold, Radius Gold and Maya Minas y Minerales).
While in the valleys of Ocotlán there are 46 mining concessions with an extension of 67 thousand hectares of territory, almost 70% of the total valley.
Currently there are three companies that exploit the land in this state: Don David Gold México SA de CV, in the area of El Águila and San José de Gracia; the Portland Cement Manufacturing Cooperative Society “La Cruz Azul” SCL, in the municipality of San Bartolo Yautepec; and Fortuna Silver Mines y Cia. “Minera Cuzcatlán” and Nuum Resources Mexico SA de CV, in San Jose del Progreso.
Neftalí Reyes, an environmentalist and member of the Front against Mining for a Future for All, said Canadian mining companies have a pattern of criminalizing defenders, but that’s not all: they pollute, discriminate, criminalize, evade taxes and that, rather than generate wealth, keep communities in conflict and fear.
From the Ocotlán Valley, where 14 cities are fighting against mining, especially the San José del Progreso project, which has nothing to do with progress, he said they continue to resist.
Reyes argued, based on statistics and official data, that the actions of the Canadian mining company Cuzcatlán (Fortune Silver Mines) criminalized the work of the defenders, but this is not the case, as the resistance that exists there has committed 2 murders. of the defenders of the territory, Bernardo Mendez and Bernardo Marquez, without justice so far.
“I find the President’s statements alarming and disturbing, because what the Canadian mining company Cuzcatlán has done is continue our rivers, but it has also been committed to dividing the communities, giving gifts to maintain a good reputation with keep the authorities, while depriving us of our rights, minerals from our territory,” he said.
Neftalí Reyes acknowledged that Mexican law is unfortunately detrimental to the environment and indigenous peoples, so despite the defenses, the mining company continues to increasingly stalk the areas and destroy the social properties that distinguish Oaxaca.
Daniel Cirilo, a member of the Lidxi Bandaga Collective in Zanatepec, Oaxaca, said local municipal and municipal authorities, under pressure from communities and civil society, have declared Zanatepec a mining-free municipality, despite remaining vigilant and resisting.
He deplored the remarks of the President of the Republic as it shows a desperation to do well with Canada while the indigenous peoples suffer from the attacks of these mining companies.
Miguel Ángel García Aguirre, activist and defender of the Selva de los Chimalapas, said the president’s message is clear, who wants to position Canadian mining companies as “good and clean” so that society accepts them across the region.
He said that both the mining companies and wind farms on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec are part of the Interoceanic Corridor macro project, in which the Obradorista government was in charge of militarization, through the Mexican Navy and National Guard.
“There is constant looting of the area, we already have experience in Guerrero, Chihuahua, San Luis Potosí, Chiapas and the valleys of Oaxaca, how mining and especially Canadian companies are destroying the area, with the forests, rivers and aquifers . .
In the case of Chimalapas, the Minauraum Gold-Zalamera company wants to exploit open-pit deposits in the upper and middle cave of the Ostuta River, seriously contaminating Huaves Lagoons and the Gulf of Tehuantepec,” he said.
García Aguirre pointed out that the 7,310 common hectares of the Zoque Territory of the Chimala Pass that have been concessioned to the Minaurum threaten the biological diversity and the generation of ecosystem services of that priceless indigenous region and with this impending declaration of the president, it is clear that resistance will collectively increase.
“The defense has been and will be by the Zoque people, the ancestral owner and their community members, recalling that since November 2021 there is a resolution of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) that the invaded lands for 70 years by the government of Chiapas, they are located in the indigenous municipalities of San Miguel and Santa María Chimalapa, Oaxaca, and that said verdict has not yet begun its implementation due to open opposition from AMLO itself; now what will happen to this mining thing where there is a repeated agreement on the part of the Chimas of No to mining! But with these threatening presidential statements, the picture is complicated and outrageous.
The three defenders argued that the resistance continues from their trenches because, above all, they have seen that the devastation and pollution caused by surface mining – such as that carried out by predatory Canadian companies in indigenous lands – is extensive, and the worst part is that these mining companies are always refuse to recognize, and now they will with the presidential approval.
Diana Manzo / news agency IstmoPress
Photos courtesy of Neftali Reyes