[From the November 23, 2012 statement:]
PRELIMINARY STATEMENT OF THE CIVILIAN OBSERVATION MISSION
“JUSTICE FOR SAN JOSÉ DEL PROGRESO”
From November 19th to 21st of this year, 19 local, national and international civil society organizations carried out the Civilian Observation Mission “Justice for San José del Progreso”, with the aim of documenting and raising awareness about the human rights violations being committed against the population of this town in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, including the risks facing community human rights defenders who oppose the presence of the Cuzcatlán mine and seek to protect Ocotlán Valley residents’ right to their land.
The Mission interviewed victims, families, women, neighborhood representatives, young people and children in San José del Progreso. Participants also met with Municipal President Alberto Mauro Sánchez and representatives of the Treasury, Health Department, Public Works Department, and pro-mining group “San José Defending Our Rights”.
The Mission visited various areas affected by the mine’s activities and by the conflict that the mine has generated in the community, including the offices of the Cuzcatlán mining company itself (subsidiary of the Canadian mining company Fortuna Silver); the tailings dam constructed as a place to deposit toxic waste from the mine; the site where community activist Bernardo Méndez Vásquez was murdered; an area that contains graffiti with death threats against another murdered human rights defender, Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez; as well as visiting and carrying out interviews in the neighboring towns of Maguey Largo, El Cuajilote, and San Pedro Apóstol, where residents have formed the United Peoples for the Defense of Water.
On the third day, the Mission met with authorities involved in the San José del Progreso mine as well as human rights defenders.
Overview of the situation
The mining concession in San José del Progreso was granted by the Secretary of Economy for a period of 50 years, yet according to interviews carried out with members of the United Peoples of the Ocotlán Valley (CPUVO) and local authorities,1 the mining company never consulted the assembly of citizens of San José del Progreso, meaning that the company did not obtain the population’s consent to establish the mine. The mine has instead been imposed by the government (including actions by state and federal authorities) with the collusion of the Commission of Common Goods of San José del Progreso, represented at the time by Quintín Vásquez Rosario, who met with 13 government departments and federal authorities. Additionally, ex Municipal President Óscar Venancio, who was killed in June of 2010, gave the mining company a permit in May of 2009. Read the full statement