Urgent Action: Safety of human rights defenders in Colima, Mexico (MiningWatch)

Urgent Action: Mexico – Concerns for the safety and security of human rights defenders opposing mining activities in the state of Colima

Over the past year, environmental and indigenous rights organisations in the municipality of Comala, Colima State, Mexico, have been facing continuous threats, attacks, stigmatisation and criminalisation as a result of their ongoing opposition to a mining concession that has been granted in the Indigenous Nahua community of Zacualpan.

This concession as of yet does not have an environmental impact study or other permits. Local communities and organisations are concerned that building a mine there would have negative health and environmental impacts for the surrounding areas, including for downstream water users. The mining concession is for the exploration of gold, silver, copper and manganese and is being managed by GABFER, S.A. de C.V. whose other corporate connections and investors are as of yet unknown and whose legal representative is Rigoberto Verduzco Rodríguez. Bios Iguana A.C., member of the the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) and the Mesoamerican Movement Against the Extractive Mining Model (M4), has been advising and accompanying the Consejo Indígena por la Defensa del Territorio de de Zacualpan – CIDTZ (Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan) in their information campaign about the impacts of mining and supports CIDTZ’s decision to declare their territory free of extractive activities.

On 19 September 2014, the Standing Committee of the Colima State Congress unanimously approved a point of agreement calling on police to prevent anyone unknown to the community from entering Zacualpan. This was intended to send a clear message to members of Bios Iguana A.C. that they should stay away and has led to further aggression towards members of the organisation.

Over the last two weeks, since 6 October 2014, Mr Gabriel Martínez Campos, President of Bios Iguana, has reported a number of occasions when vehicles with no registration plates have driven past his home. At times they have followed him. Neighbours have also noticed cars with no registration plates circling the block where he lives. On four different occasions in that period of time Gabriel Martínez Campos has been approached by unknown persons asking him how the current situation is in Zacualpan.

On 18 October, members of CIDTZ and Bios Iguana organised a social gathering in the city of Villa de Álvarez, as they are not allowed to enter the community of Zacualpan. A municipal police patrol arrived and asked what was going on. They were informed that it was a private party and they left. Later a state police patrol arrived, which is very unusual in the neighbourhood where the gathering was taking place. The vehicle drove very slowly down the street and an occupant was heard saying “Esperancita”, before driving off. This was a reference to Ms Esperanza Salazar Zenil, Coordinator of Bios Iguana.

On 11 October, Esperanza Salazar Zenil and another member of Bios Iguana, Mr Alejandro Bueno, were walking in the centre of Colima when a patrol car stopped suddenly beside them. One of the two officers in the vehicle greeted them. Esperanza Salazar Zenil returned the greeting and they continued walking. Later, as they walked towards home the same patrol car appeared beside them again, this time the occupants said nothing but as they drove very slowly past they both laughed.

On 22 September, at 10:10 amAlejandro Bueno received a threatening message on social networking site Facebook from a person supposedly called Angel Elektico. In the message, which was sent again at 10:15 am, the author says that he was walking past the human rights defender’s home when he thought of him and warning him that he should take great care.

On 28 August, a group calling themselves “Movimiento anti bios-iguanas” created a page on Facebook. The page has included posts threatening and insulting members of Bios Iguana. One post claimed to be written by an official from the last government and was directed at Gabriel Martínez Campos, claiming that he has been paid large sums of money and that he has no interest in the defending the environment.

On 26 August, members of the CIDTZ held a meeting with the Municipal President of Comala, four Councillors and a Deputy, where they were calling for greater security for the Community, amongst other things. A group of 6 persons suddenly entered the room to disrupt the meeting. They began pulling and pushing people in the room and, despite requests for the Municipal President to leave his security detail to assist those in the room, he left bringing the policemen with him. 8 female members of the CIDTZ were injured during the incident.

Above is a summary of a number of recent incidents where members of Bios Iguana and CIDTZ have felt threatened. This is not an exhaustive list and, despite submitting an official request (Number: 27877 of File Number: 375/2014) to the National Human Rights Commission for protective measures on 18 March 2014 for members of their organisations, they have yet to receive a response.

Front Line Defenders believes that the above-mentioned incidents form part of an ongoing campaign to discredit, threaten and criminalise the work of environmental and indigenous organisations such as Bios Iguana A.C. and the Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan for their legitimate activities against mining activities in Mexico and that it is aimed at instilling fear in all of those engaged in legitimately defending their lands and their rights from the interests of national and foreign extractive companies. – See more at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/27554#sthash.oJL5O27e.dpuf


Jennifer Moore
Latin America Program Coordinator
MiningWatch Canada
tel: 613.569.3439 / fax: 613.569.5138

twitter: @MiningWatch

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“This is what they’re doing to clean up the worst mining disaster in Canadian history.” (YouTube)

One month after the Mount Polley mining disaster, what is the government doing to clean up the largest mining disaster in Canadian history? Watch this video by the Secwepemc Women’s Warrior Society:


Source: Kanahus Manuel

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“Miners Shot Down” playing at Amnesty International Film Festival – Vancouver

Miners Shot Down
Directed by Rehad Desai

Saturday, October 18
VPL Central Branch
Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level
12:50 pm / doors open at 12:40 pm

In August 2012, mineworkers in one of South Africa’s biggest platinum mines began a wildcat strike for better wages. Six days later the police used live ammunition to brutally suppress the strike, killing 34 and injuring many more. Using the point of view of the Marikana miners, Miners Shot Down follows the strike from day one, showing the courageous but isolated fight waged by a group of low-paid workers against the combined forces of the mining company Lonmin, the ANC government and their allies in the National Union of Mineworkers.

What emerges is collusion at the top, spiralling violence and the country’s first post-apartheid massacre. South Africa will never be the same again.

Runtime: 85 minutes



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El Salvador’s struggle against corporate impunity (tni.org)

The controversial legal case that Canadian mining firm Pacific Rim has launched against El Salvador has added fuel to the growing international debate on the balance of corporate rights and responsibilities and the need for new legal international frameworks to address corporate impunity.

el_salvador_-_pacific_rim from tni

15 September marked the anniversary of independence of El Salvador . Tellingly on the same day, in a world where corporate power can supercede that of states, the small Central American country is in a Washington-based investment court battling it out for its right to regulate on health and environmental grounds against a transnational mining firm. The controversial legal case that Canadian mining firm Pacific Rim has launched against El Salvador has added fuel to the growing international debate on the balance of corporate rights and responsibilities and the need for new legal international frameworks to address corporate impunity.

Pacific Rim, a gold-mining corporation, is demanding $301 million from El Salvador in the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a secretive World Bank tribunal in Washington D.C. The basis for their case is that Pacific Rim was denied concessions because it failed to meet environmental impact and licencing requirements. It is also a legal challenge to El Salvadorian government decisions since 2008 to deny gold-mining permits in order to protect scarce water resources from cyanide pollution. (To read more, click here.)

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KAIROS Urgent Action Alert: Bill C-584

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The next five days are crucial in the Open for Justice campaign to win greater accountability from the Canadian mining, oil and gas industry.

Please contact your Member of Parliament today.  (Even if you have already written to your MP on this matter, please contact them again regarding a very important vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday.)

Yesterday in the House of Commons, MPs debated the Extractive Sector Ombudsman Bill (C-584) to create a new accountability mechanism for companies operating abroad.  KAIROS Canada is asking all MPs to support the bill at its upcoming vote for second reading.  Bill C-584 is our best hope of legislative change for mining justice in this session of Parliament. 

Contact your Member of Parliament today.

It’s easy!
And it takes less than two minutes if you use the online action tool on the KAIROS Canada website:


Please join the over 90,000 Canadians who have already called for Canada to be Open for Justice.

Thanks again for your support.


Ian Thomson
KAIROS Partnerships Coordinator, Resources and Rights




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Community Leader Oscar Morales Highlights Conflict Over El Escobal Mine (El Quetzal)

(This story can be found on page four of El Quetzal Issue #17, linked below.)

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Posted in Community Resistance, Conflict and Repression, Environment and Health, Local and Indigenous Rights, Tahoe Resources | Tagged , | Leave a comment

World Bank Tribunal Weighs Final Arguments in El Salvador Mining Dispute (Inter Press Service)

By Carey L. Biron

WASHINGTON, Sep 16 2014 (IPS) – A multilateral arbitration panel here began final hearings Monday in a contentious and long-running dispute between an international mining company and the government of El Salvador.

An Australian mining company, OceanaGold, is suing the Salvadoran government for refusing to grant it a gold-mining permit that has been pending for much of the past decade. El Salvador, meanwhile, cites national laws and policies aimed at safeguarding human and environmental health, and says the project would threaten the country’s water supply.

“This mining process would use some really poisonous substances – cyanide, arsenic – that would destroy the environment. Ultimately, the people suffer the consequences.” — Father Eric Lopez
The country also claims that OceanaGold has failed to comply with basic requirements for any gold-mining permitting. Further, in 2012, El Salvador announced that it would continue a moratorium on all mining projects in the country. To read the full article, click here.

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