dorset chiapas solidarity

April 2, 2017

Civil Observation and Solidarity Caravan in Los Chimalapas

Filed under: caravan, Displacement, Mining, Uncategorized — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:37 pm


Civil Observation and Solidarity Caravan in Los Chimalapas

Chimalapas.pngCivil Observation and Solidarity Caravan to Los Chimalapas (@NVI Noticias)

On March 18 and 19, a motorized Civil Observation Caravan in solidarity with Nuevo San Andres visited the village in the Chimalapas region where, on 24 February last, nine villagers suffered attacks, illegal deprivation of liberty and violence from the so-called “Chamula Army”. About 20 people, including community members from Santa Maria Chimalapa, civil and social organizations as well as members of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the People of Oaxaca (DDHPO in its Spanish acronym) participated in this caravan.

About 100 people from 20 Tsotsil families from the Chiapas Highlands form the community of Nuevo San Andres, founded six years ago. Since the February aggression, they are practically living under siege for fear of being attacked again. Echoing their testimonies, the Caravan denounced the lack of actions by the federal and state governments to address the problems that endanger these families from Chiapas but installed in Oaxacan communal territory. 

Miguel Angel Garcia Aguirre, representative of the caravan, said that for more than 60 years indigenous communities have been confronted in this region of the Isthmus by border conflicts between Oaxaca, Chiapas and Veracruz. The regional coordinator of the Committee for the Defense and Conservation of Chimalapa said that “we can not allow them to continue to live violence, we regret that the government of Oaxaca has not granted precautionary measures, we are waiting for the resolution of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), it is urgent that this case be addressed.”



March 7, 2017

Tarahumaras faced with violence from organized crime seek asylum in US

Filed under: CNI, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Mining, Uncategorized, Zapatista — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:20 pm


Tarahumaras faced with violence from organized crime seek asylum in US


agonicc81a-infantilChildren in the Sierra Tarahumara. Photo: Eduardo Miranda


By: Patricia Mayorga

CHIHUAHUA, Chih. (apro). – The Rarámuri, Santiago Cruz Castillo, 26, requested political asylum in El Paso, Texas, after organized crime took away his lands in La Laguna de Aboreachi, municipality of Guachochi, like hundreds of indigenous and mestizos of the Sierra Tarahumara.

Another family from the La Trinidad ejido, in Guadalupe y Calvo municipality arrived before Santiago Cruz to request asylum. After five months, they are still holding David Ríos Laija, one of the members of that family, in custody.

Santiago Cruz arrived alone; he is single and his parents stayed in the Sierra. “I arrived in the United States on November 24 because of the violence that exists in the communities. Many people have gone away because they started to take the land away through criminal activity, through violence; they kill and disappear us and no one gives us protection. We have to leave.”

The young Tarahumara says that they snatched their small parcels of land and their houses to plant poppies and marijuana.

He opted to travel to Juárez, they invited him, they contracted with him and they took him to that border. He worked on a ranch close to Ciudad Juárez, but they were paying him very little and he worked a lot and he became discouraged. “I wasn’t comfortable, I worked long hours, they paid very little and I wasn’t treated well.”

On November 24 he decided to cross into the United States, he was in the detention centre and afterwards made contact with the expert immigration lawyer, Carlos Spector, who took his case and is in the process of requesting political asylum.

Santiago Cruz’ wish is to help his people from there, because he is convinced that he can denounce the situation and is confident that the authorities will do something.

“I want to help my people, so that the government will let them work, I want to help from here. The truth is that the violence is strong, I know how it is, don’t tell me,” he insists.

Carlos Spector said that six months ago the Rios family arrived from Guadalupe y Calvo, after an armed group disappeared the father, who was the community’s commissioner.

“The widow Aureliana Leija and her two sons came in September. David Ríos Leija, 22, is a student of Medicine; they are Christians, it is a clean family and they are mestizos. The other son that came is Elías Ríos, 19.

“They fled due to the father’s political situation, they began to seek it and they (the criminals) tell him that they will leave him in peace, that they won’t look for him and they leave seeking asylum. That is part of the press communication, they let the mother go later, Elías 2 months after the credible fear test,” the lawyer detailed.

Nevertheless, David is still detained and Spector denounced that they don’t want to release him despite the fact that he already passed the credible fear test, because the criteria hardened with the Donald Trump government.

“It’s a case of immigration abuse. There exists a bi-national policy of persecution and the incarceration of poor Mexicans, human rights defenders or people that complain and ask for asylum. They incarcerate them or separate them from their family. After being detained for 5 months, there is no possibility of closing the case quickly; that’s the point of prolonged detention. It’s a political kidnapping to discourage strong political asylum cases,” Carlos Spector said.

The lawyer said that in the Barack Obama government and in other administrations, when they ask for political asylum like is done at the international bridge, they would detain them for two months until they passed the credible fear test and then release them if they showed that they didn’t represent threats to the community and if they guaranteed that they would attend all the hearings.

Before, he said, the local “Migra” signed the conditional release, the conditional freedom, but now they decided that the national assistant director of immigration in Washington must approve those requesting political asylum to be released.

“It’s a democratic way to not grant asylum to anyone. That is the new policy and a formula for repression and mass deportation, applying the law in an extremely rigid and repressive way. The family wants to leave because the young man wants to leave, but he has to appear in court on March 8. Now they have undertaken a campaign to free him.”

This Monday, Spector announced, they have an appointment with the archbishop for the area, who has spoken out against the criminalization of political asylum.

The lawyer announced that the authorities are going to build more detention centres because soon the people aren’t going to fit in those that exist and he reproached that when people ask for political asylum at the bridge, they are entering legally, in accordance with the laws of the United States and with international laws, therefore he reproached the repressive measures, which he compared to those for the Japanese.

Spector reported that Santiago Cruz is the first Rarámuri to request political asylum, but there are another 300 Tarahumaras that are in prisons in the Southwestern United States, who are without defence because they don’t have translators.

Saúl Bustamante has finally helped them. He is mestizo and was raised in a cave in the Tarahumara by an indigenous family, because of which he is a firm defender of his people and principally of those who don’t have access to justice. He has organized events to promote Tarahumara culture in El Paso, like (running) races, and hopes to achieve the freedom or the just defence of indigenous Chihuahuans.


Originally Published in Spanish by

Friday, February 24, 2017

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee




December 5, 2016

Modevite Demand Respect for Self-Determination over their Territory and Agree to Construct Community Governments

Filed under: Dams, Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Mining — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 2:29 pm


Modevite will consult their communities about EZLN proposal

They Demand Respect for Self-Determination over their Territory and Agree to Construct Community Governments

modevite-3Movement for the Defence of Life and Territory Photo: Chiapas Paralelo

By: Angeles Mariscal

 In this state of the Mexican Southeast, the mining industry has been granted concessions to almost 20 percent of the territory, and there are more than 30 governmental authorizations to use tributary rivers for the installation of mini-hydroelectric dams, five projects for constructing dams and an open solicitation for extracting hydrocarbons from 12 wells; the project to construct a gas pipeline is also in the works, and through the decree for creation of the Special Economic Zones they are granted eased tariffs so that corporations consolidate their businesses linked to the extractive industry.

This is the scenario that thousands of indigenous face in Chiapas; and this is why in this month of November residents of the municipios of Salto de Agua, Tumbalá, Yajalón, Chilón, Ocosingo, Altamirano, Oxchuc, San Juan Cancúc, Tenejapa, Huixtán and San Cristóbal de las Casas left their communities to tour the region and demonstrate their rejection of these projects that threaten stability in their territory.

They are from the Tsotsil, Chol and Tseltal indigenous ethnicities, who make up part of the faithful of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de las Casas, grouped together in the Pueblo Creyente (Believing People), and who for four years have been members of the Movement for the Defence of Life and Territory (Movimiento por la Defensa de la Vida y el TerritorioModevite).

On their 15-day tour, Modevite members met with more than 20,000 different indigenous peoples, with whom they dialogued about the common problems that cross through their territories.

“We have walked to listen to the problems of our communities and the risks that threaten our culture and our Mother Earth with mega-projects and super-highways. We walked to unite us in one single voice. We have been able to converse, reflect and dream as one people,” they explained in a joint pronouncement.

Mines, hydroelectric dams and wells on indigenous lands

“We are at a strategic place regarding the mega-projects. This territory is one of the objectives of extractivism,” they pointed out upon arriving in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in a plaza full of indigenous and mestizos.

There, in the plaza, they said that’ according to the Secretary of Economy, in the last three six-year presidential terms 99 concessions for exploiting minerals that are found on 1.5 million hectares –almost 20 percent of Chiapas territory- have been delivered to corporate investors, the majority lands belonging to indigenous groups that would have to be displaced to make way for the mining industry.

They also said that the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) has identified Chiapas as a state with great hydrology potential, and plans to construct 90 hydroelectric dams with different capacities. Four of those stand out that would directly affect indigenous territory: the Altamirano Dam on the Tzaconejá River; the Livingstone Dam on the Tzaconejá River; the Santo Domingo Rapids Dam (previously Huixtán I) on the Santo Domingo River; and the Santa Elena Dam (previously Huixtán II) on the Santo Domingo River, among others. They emphasized that investors have asked the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) for the installation of at least 32 “mini-hydroelectric” dams.

They also said that the perforation of 12 wells for the extraction of gas and oil has been projected for 2017 in the indigenous Zoque zone. This project will affect 845 square kilometres located in two areas within the municipios of Tecpatán, Francisco León, Ixtacomitán and Pichicalco.

Another risk to indigenous territories –they reminded- is the planting of genetically modified seeds (GMOs). From 2010 to the middle of 2016 the Monsanto Company planted genetically modified soy in 13 Chiapas municipios.

They call for strengthening community governments

The inhabitants of the zones where these extractive projects are located pointed out that accepting them would mean being displaced from their territory, and with that also losing their roots.

They started to organize four years ago and since then they have achieved suspending the construction of the San Cristóbal-Palenque Super-Highway. “Now we see that our fight is bigger; we have the job of defender our life, our culture and the commons that there are in our territory,” they underscored.

They said that throughout their tour through indigenous territory, there was agreement that not only must they denounce the affectation to their territory because of the extractivist projects, “but we must also care about the land.”

They said that if the federal, state and municipal governments support and promote the extractive industry, their option is to create community governments that respond to the interests of the indigenous peoples that are being affected.

Therefore, the indigenous agreed to add themselves to the proposal of the National Indigenous Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena, CNI) and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN), to consult with their communities about the decision to participate in the next national elections with an independent indigenous candidate.

“We share the same objective (as the CNI and EZLN), we believe that it is necessary to strengthen the voice of our indigenous peoples on the political agenda, and therefore we want to take this initiative to our communities and municipios. We can no longer work divided but rather it’s necessary to unite for our peoples, for our territories,” they said.

Modevite members announced that they would strengthen the initiative for constructing autonomous governments as a measure for conserving their territories and their culture. “It’s our right to decide the use of and destiny of our territory,” they said.


Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation and edits by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted with minor edits by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



November 19, 2016

Indigenous begin a 12-day pilgrimage against mega-projects in Chiapas.



Indigenous begin a 12-day pilgrimage against mega-projects in Chiapas.





By: Isaín Mandujano

More than a thousand indigenous Choles, Tseltales and Tsotsiles left this Tuesday morning from Salto de Agua, in a pilgrimage that will tour 11 municipalities (municipios) to denounce and protest against the mega-projects that threaten their lands and the life of their communities.

Throughout 12 days, the indigenous will be added to in each one of the municipios through which the march will travel until arriving in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Today, they left Salto de Agua for Tumbalá where a traditional celebration will be held. They will spend Wednesday night in Yajalón, where they will hold the forum “The Original Peoples’ Fight” from the experience of Pueblo Creyente of Simojovel.

 On Thursday they will be in Chilón, where they will participate in the forum “The fight for the defence of water.” On Friday, the caravan will depart for Ocosingo, where the forum “Care of Mother Earth” will be held. On Saturday, they will be in Altamirano where they will hold the forum “Alcoholism in the indigenous communities.” On Sunday, November 20, the marchers will spend the night in Oxchuc where they will hold the forum “Community Governments.”

On Monday the 21st, they will be in Cancuc, where a traditional indigenous ceremony will be celebrated. On Tuesday the 22nd they will arrive in Tenejapa, where the auxiliary bishop of the San Cristóbal de Las Casas Diocese, Enrique Díaz Díaz, will head a traditional religious ceremony. On Wednesday the 23rd they will be in Huixtán to celebrate the forum “Government projects in the indigenous communities.”

On November the 24th, they will arrive in La Candelaria, a rural community within the municipio of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where they will celebrate another traditional indigenous ceremony and dialogue about the situations that threaten their community life. On Friday the 25th, they will finally arrive in the central plaza of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, where the gathering of thousands of marchers that have added themselves to movement is expected.

The Movement in Defence of Life and Territory (Modevite) called for this march and pilgrimage, composed of 10 parishes of 11 municipios. For the las four years, the Pueblo Creyente of the Diocese of San Cristóbal have organized in defence of their territory. They have achieved the stopping of the construction of the Palenque-San Cristóbal superhighway, which would have crossed through their territory. Their objective now is to decide the use and destiny of their territory, principally in the face of threats from the extractive industry and the mega-projects.

“We know our rights as original peoples. We seek to unify our voices and our efforts against the ambition of the impresarios and the government that covet our natural resources,” says Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez.

“We are in a strategic place for the mega-projects. This territory is one the objectives of extractivism,” he added.

For example, Father Marcelo says, in the Tulijá (River) Valley they plan to construct an artificial lake that will flood 396 square kilometres of forests and indigenous lands. The lake would have the capacity of 24 billion 540 million cubic meters, which contemplates the construction of “modern industrial, small farming and aquifer population centres” on the sides of the dam.”

“We don’t want projects that only benefit some, we don’t want projects without consulting us, we don’t want improvements for the rich while the poor continue in the same condition,” another indigenous Ch’ol speaker said today before departing for Tumbalá.

“We seek to organize the peoples to construct our autonomy; that our right as original peoples to the life that we want is recognized. We need to join our voices in defence of our forests, our rivers. We demand the governments stop the extractive industry and the mega-projects that are being imposed without consulting us,” Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez stated.


Originally Published in Spanish by

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity




October 8, 2016

“Stop the Casas Viejas mining project ” demand families from Soconusco, from two encampments

Filed under: Indigenous, Mining — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:18 am


“Stop the Casas Viejas mining project ” demand families from Soconusco, from two encampments

“We demand: healthy communities, free rivers, land for planting and a future for our children…”




We, the Popular Front in Defence of Soconusco 20th June, are maintaining two camps to stop mining in our territory. 

Acacoyagua, Chiapas, Mexico

October 4th, 2016

The families that make up the Popular Front in Defence of the Soconusco 20 of June (FPDF) exercise our right to a healthy environment and to water, to protect our land and the patrimony of our sons and daughters.

On September 26th, we decided to guard the roads where the excavation and transport machinery passes for the mining project “Casas Viejas”. As we are the proprietors of the road that the mines use as transportation, in a collective manner we decided it necessary to take care of the reserve of El Triunfo, the rivers of Cacaluta, Cintalapa, and Doña Maria, as well as the coastal mangroves, and guard them against the mining of titanium. In a peaceful manner, with the feeling of unity and solidarity, we organized ourselves to maintain two encampments to stop the looting and polluting of our nature.

The mining project “Casas Viejas” (in the ejidos of Cacoas, Magnolia, and Satélite Morelia) is part of five projects that have been established in the last 15 years. Just in the year of 2009, 49,000 tons were exploited by the “Christina” project and, during the last five years, they have concessioned 21 titles in the municipalities of Escuintla and Acacoyagua. The companies Male S.A. od C.V, Puntal S.A. of C.V., Tristán Canales Reyna y Socios, Honour Up Tranding S.A of C.V., Sociedad Cooperativa Unidad Piedritas y Servicios S.C.L. of C.V. have taken over our territory and put our future at risk.

The families of the FDPS make effective the Declaration of Municipality Free of Mining signed by the municipal president and aldermen of the town of Acacoyagua and the commitment that we established at that time: as the representatives of the ejidos and communities of Acacoyagua, we declare that: we will not allow any resumption of mining projects, no hidden jobs (of exploration or exploitation), no machines on the roads, no visits by Chinese entrepreneurs, and no promises of sustainable mining. Because our territory deserves to have healthy rivers, people without disease, decent work and land for future generations.


The members demand: clean communities, free rivers, land for planting and a future for our children.

Water yes, mining no!

Water for life, not for mining!


Frente Popular en Defensa del Socunusco 20 de Junio (FPDS)

Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA)

For more information:


Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity from a translation by Palabras Rebeldes



September 23, 2016

Mexico: 1,000 Wixarika Indigenous People Reclaim Ancestral Land

Filed under: Mining, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:14 pm



Mexico: 1,000 Wixarika Indigenous People Reclaim Ancestral Land


wixaThe hallucinogenic cactus peyote is central to the spirituality of the Wixarika as a channel to connect with their ancestors. | Photo: EFE


The Wixarika people in Mexico’s Western Madre Sierra mountain range have fought for decades to reclaim some 10,000 hectares of ancestral land.

With court ruling in a century-old conflict on their side, at least 1,000 Indigenous Wixarika people, also known as Huicholes, are determined to reclaim Thursday a swath of their ancestral land from ranchers in the western state of Nayarit in a mass action that some fear could spark violence.

The Wixarika community from San Sebastian Teponahuaxtla—known as Wuaut+a by the local Indigenous population—in the state of Jalisco, bordering Nayarit to the south, announced plans to accompany federal authorities at 10:00 a.m. local time to enforce a court decision upholding Wixarika rights to the land dating back to colonial agreements with the Spanish grown in the early 1700s.

The enforcement targets a 184-hectare plot in the Nayarit community of Huajimic, a relatively small tract of the Wixarika’s total land claim of some 10,000 hectares of territory that the group argues is under “irregular possession.” Ranchers obtained titles to the land in the early 1990s, but courts have ruled in the Wixarika’s favor on 13 out of a total of 47 land claims, the remainder of which remain pending.

“After 40 years of conflict and 10 years of litigation, this is the first enforcement to be implemented in the countryside … for the return of several properties in Huajimic,” said the community of San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlan and its supporting Indigenous organizations in a statement ahead of the action. “It is important that this first enforcement is implemented efficiently and that the Mexican state demonstrates that the rule of law prevails over any act of intimidation.”

But many observers fear that hostile confrontations may erupt. Gamboa Suarez, a member of a property owners’ association in Huajimic, told the news outlet NNC that local residents don’t plan to surrender the land, which they’ve had a stake on since 1906.

“None of the people of Huajimic are willing to give up their land,” Suarez said, calling the dispute a “delicate issue” and warning of possible violence.

Wixarika leaders called on authorities in Jalisco and Nayarit to respect the court decision and take steps to ensure peace and public order in the course of the enforcement. They also called on President Enrique Peña Nieto and Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong to fulfill their duty to guarantee Indigenous territorial rights, specifically for the community of San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlan.

The Wixarika urged federal authorities for years to solve the dispute by offering compensation to the ranchers currently in possession of the land, Intercontinental Cry reported. But earlier this year, officials revealed that payment would not be possible, forcing the land claims to take the route of a direct takeover of the territories indicated in the court rulings. With ranchers set on staying on the land, the atmosphere is ripe for violent conflict.

The Wixarika people’s traditional territory spans across the major Western Sierra Madre mountain range in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Zacatecas, and Durango. The traditional culture, shamanic spirituality, and the present-day struggles of the Wixarika were showcased in the 2014 documentary film “Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians.” The film details the group’s ceremonial use of the hallucinogenic cactus peyote, which they “hunt” in one of their sacred mountains, which they call Wirikuta.

The Wixarika, the sacred Wirikuta, and ancient cultural traditions like the peyote hunt are under threat from foreign mining activities, including an open-pit, cyanide leaching silver mine operated by the Canadian company First Majestic Silver Corp. The Wixarika continue to hold on to a custom of completing an annual pilgrimage to Wirikuta to honor the four sacred cardinal directions and pass their traditions on to the next generation.


Posted by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



August 4, 2016

World Day Against Opencast Mining

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, Indigenous, Mining, Uncategorized — Tags: , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 9:06 am




World Day Against Opencast Mining


mining.pngPoster for international day of struggle against mega-mining in defence of life and water. (Photo:@OtrosMundos)


In the framework of World Day Against Opencast Mining, which is commemorated on July 22, several events were held in different parts of the country. In Oaxaca, for example, groups in the isthmus region took part in the forum for “Strategies of Struggle for the Defence of Mother Earth and Territory” in the capital of Oaxaca. This event was part of the national campaign in defence of Mother Earth, which gives voice to the experience of hundreds of people preyed upon by mining projects in Mexico. Other collectives, the Lawyers and Defenders of Public Interest Collective, Common Borders and Greenpeace Mexico presented the manual “Protection of Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (PESCER) of Peoples and Communities Against Mining Megaprojects in Mexico” as a tool to address the abuses of mining projects throughout the country.

One day before, in the framework of resistance, communal and agricultural authorities, communities and organizations in Oaxaca and other Mexican states, met in Oaxaca to launch the State Rebellion Against Mining Day. They released a statement in which they expressed their “decision to fight together to stop these abuses and to affirm our own ways of living and governing ourselves.” They were worried “because these violations cause immense damage to Mother Earth and rip apart the social fabric of communities causing divisions and confrontations.”

In accordance with data published in El Universal in 2014, it is currently estimated that at state-level there is a concession of an area for 793,525 hectares for metal mining. As such, a fifth of Mexico has been given over to the mining sector. Marisa Jacott, Common Borders director, explained that “the massive destruction of natural resources caused by mining activities are manifold, such as air, water and soil pollution on a large scale; violent dispossession, repression and crime against forms of territorial defence and community organization; deteriorating health of local residents of mines; as well as the impact suffered by miners for working in high-risk conditions and the intensive use of dangerous materials and chemical substances.”

Due to this, the PESCER manual deals with the relationships and tensions caused by mining, and proposes that it is “from overexploitation, deterioration and allocation of natural resources that the Mexican State favours the profit of private and foreign interests over social [interests] and in this way breaks collective rights.” However, the manual proposes the use of legal and non-legal tools for communities to strengthen their struggle for the defence of their territory, heritage and health from the increase of predator mining in Mexico.

Posted on 4/8/16 by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity



July 12, 2016

Mining Giants Rob Water From Millions of Mexicans Every Year

Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, Mining, water — Tags: , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:40 am



Mining Giants Rob Water From Millions of Mexicans Every Year


mexico_contamination_water_mining.jpg_1718483346Greenpeace activists kayak in front of the El Salto waterfall in Juanacatlan, Mexico, to protest contamination and promote water conservation, March 22, 2012. | Photo: EFE


While nearly 14 million Mexicans do not have taps in their home, transnational mining corporations suck up billions of gallons of the precious resource.

Over 400 mines in Mexico use enough water to meet the annual needs of 3.2 million people, more than one-fifth of the Mexican population without running water in their homes, according to an investigation reported by local media Monday.

With a whopping 115.3 billion gallons (436.6 million cubic meters) of annual water used annually by 417 mining companies doing business in the state, researchers are increasingly concerned about rising water scarcities, not to mention the water rights of 13.8 million people across the company without access to running water in their homes.

What’s more, transnational companies, mostly based in North America, are the biggest beneficiaries of Mexico’s mining industry.

Water shortages are particularly felt in the northern part of the country, where the state of Sonora sees the largest volume of water go towards mining, at about 28.5 billion gallons per year. The smaller states of Zacatecas and Michoacan, divert about half as much water to mining as does Sonora.

Together, the three states—which are dominated by mining projects by Canadian companies, according to data from Mexico’s Interior Ministry—account for half of the total annual water use by mining companies in the country, according to the study.

And the mining corporations in Zacatecas use more water than the entire local population. The Canadian mining giant Goldcorp, through its local subsidiary Peñasquito, is far and away the biggest water consumer in the region with a total of nearly 12 million gallons of groundwater use every year.

The main researcher in the new study, Manuel Llano, stressed that the industry impacts both water availability and quality due to high consumption, contamination, and destruction of important water sources through mining activities in the country, the Mexican daily La Jornada reported.

According to public data from Mexico’s Interior Ministry, the country is home to 926 transnational and local mines in various stages of exploration, development, and production. A total of 293 foreign-owned mining companies operate in the country, many with multiple projects. Canadian transnationals make up the vast majority with 205 of the foreign companies operating in the country, followed by the United States with 46, China with 10, and smaller numbers from other countries including Australia, the United Kingdom, and Peru.

Canadian mining corporations have a notorious record in Latin America and Africa. Earlier this year, over 200 environmental, Indigenous, and human rights organizations petitioned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make Canadian mining corporations more accountable for human rights violations and environmental destruction caused in overseas operations, scores of cases of which have long gone unpunished.



July 6, 2016

Zibechi: Communities stand up for life



Zibechi: Communities stand up for life

The National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory



dsc0018_550The campfires in Cherán, Michoacán, Mexico.


By: Raúl Zibechi

Dozens of communities in resistance from 17 states of Mexico have started a long campaign that seeks to coordinate struggles, denounce extractivism and offer a space for mutual aid among those who are being attacked by capital and the State.

“The campaign seeks a dialogue and common actions that construct a fabric,” explains Gerardo Meza of the Acapatzingo Housing Community, in Mexico City. “Because the State takes advantage of the lack of information about what happens to the megaprojects it impels against the peoples. Therefore, we seek to construct non-organic organizational spaces for generating identity in the neighbourhoods and to weave a process of autonomy in Mexico City.”

Gerardo refers to the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory that started on April 10 and will culminate on November 20, two dates with deep rebel content in Mexico. The Francisco Villa Popular Organization of the Independent Left participated in it along with 180 organizations from 17 states, grouped into nine regions. A Committee for Mother Earth made up of 40 musicians, actors, religious men and women and professionals supports the campaign, which at each activity united hundreds and thousands of people: from the 1,500 that went to the launch in Mexico City on April 10, to the hundreds who mobilized in support of Xochicuautla, where the community resists the construction of a superhighway in the State of Mexico.

“The spearhead of the extractive model is mining,” Meza reasons, “levelling entire communities, taking territory away from them and destroying their identities.” The campaign places affected communities in a relationship with other affected communities in a direct, horizontal relationship, not mediated by representatives but rather of people to people. Of the campaign signers, 97 communities and barrios have conflicts with extractivist capital and the State, and resist often with very high human costs.

In the Mexican capital, for example, the barrios are being affected by urban infrastructure and communication projects, through the construction of metro lines, inter-urban trains and real estate speculation, one of the most destructive and least analysed facets of the extractive model. We’re able to talk about an “urban extractivism,” which is connected with the general model and in many cases acts to complement the mode of accumulation, since the enormous profits from mono-crops and mining are apt to be invested in urban speculation, which results in the gentrification of the cities and the expulsion of the poorest inhabitants.

From Norte to South: young and brave women

The Campaign reports that the most of the conflicts are produced by the construction of hydroelectric dams and other energy generation projects (34%), followed closely by mining projects (32%). Transportation projects like highways and trains (12%) and urbanization (11%) appear at more distance. The privatization of water embraces 15% of the conflicts, but many mining and energy projects also appropriate the commons, like water, therefore this must be one of the principal motives for the community resistances.

In the north, in the state of Sonora, the Comcáac Nation resists the destruction of 100 kilometres of Pacific littoral, where fisherpeople seek to save their sources of work from the La Peineta mining project. Gabriela Molina, of the Comcáac Territory Defenders organization, assures that half of his peoples’ territory has been conceded to a mining company that seeks to extract iron, copper and silver at sites that are sacred to his nation. “The nation is a place where deer and bighorn sheep reproduce, because of which we don’t want an extractive activity on our territory, which is also very close to the Canal del Infiernillo, where there are plants that we use for our artesanía, like jojoba and elephant tree (torote), and it is thus a site of material spiritual importance for the survival of our people.”

As happens all over the world, mining succeeded in dividing the Comcáac people with promises and a few resources. “Our group is made up of 22 women who organize against mining and we are dedicated to informing the peoples of the Sonora Sierra who are not familiar with what mining is,” Gabriela says. As Comcáac Nation, they are supported with the Traditional Guard, armed self-defence that was born in 1979 for the protection of autonomous territory. The guard is elected by the council of elders and the traditional governor and is composed as much by men as women.

“Until we added ourselves to the campaign our people were invisible,” Gabriela finished; she also denounces hydric extractivism that diverts water for business production and tourist projects in zones her people inhabit.

Since 2008, the town of San José del Progreso, in the state of Oaxaca, has opposed the arrival of a mining company in a campesino population that cultivates corn, beans and garbanzos. According to official data of the Secretariat of the Economy, since the approval of the 1992 Mining Law, Mexico delivered 31,000 concessions on almost 51 million hectares to more than 300 companies that manage around 800 projects. Rosalinda Dionisio, who is a member of the Coordinator of United Peoples of the Ocotlán Valley, suffered an attack when members of the organization were ambushed for opposing the mining Cuzcatlán, a subsidiary of the Canadian Fortuna Silver Mines, which exploits 700 hectares for extracting uranium, gold and silver.

The mine is located near the San José del Progreso municipality, one of the three poorest in the state. Although the better part of its six thousand inhabitants reject mining, the mayor supports it and heads a group that attacks members of the Coordinator. In February and March 2012, the activists were attacked, in one case by the municipal police and in another by unknown persons, with a result of two dead and various injured, among them Rosalinda. That was the reaction to the community protests, when tubes were installed to carry water to the mine, diverting it away from the campesinos’ crops.

A monster that is called the State

“With the campaign we seek to speak clearly with other communities, since we must redouble in the face of repression, and be able to inform other peoples about what is happening to us,” Rosalinda explains. “We have a monster State that has hit us very hard, with disappearances, with repression, and therefore we need a network to support each other, based on mutual aid, for confronting the monster that takes life away from us,” says this young and brave woman, survivor of the war against the peoples. She has still not completely recovered her mobility after various surgeries, but she shows an admirable combative spirit.

The resistance of the community of Cherán doesn’t need presentation, because since 2011 it has been an example for peoples who resist the extractive model and the armed groups (state or paramilitary) that promote and protect it. Severiana Fabián, a member of the High Council of the P’urhépecha indigenous community of Cherán, also forms part of the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory. Her community rose up to expel the criminal woodcutters supported by local caciques.

“We fight to defend a commons that is Mother Earth,” explains Severiana. The key to the success of this community is its organization, extensive and profound, which reaches all corners, is open and transparent, solid and convincing. “We are organized by uses and customs (traditional indigenous governing practices) and we have attained that Cherán is calm and secure by the force of our community organization,” says a woman who feels proud of the work accomplished in five years, which she considers an example for Mexicans.

The form of organization, from below to above, begins by the campfires. There are four barrios (neighbourhoods) and in each one there are between 50 and 60 campfires (fogatas), at the rate of one per block. There are 53 campfires in Severiana’s barrio, which speaks of a way of outdoor organization, in which families can participate, from the children to the elderly. Each barrio elects three individuals to the High Council, in which there are currently three women.

Cherán has a population of 20,000 inhabitants and in each one of the 240 campfires installed on each corner there are some one hundred people. “This organization is the key to everything,” exclaims Severiana. The campfires are meeting places among neighbours, spaces where the community is re-created, but they are also organs of power in which collective decisions are made and where the participation of women is decisive.

As the synthesis of these years of struggle, Severiana assures that in Cherán “courage overcame fear.” Maybe it will be the legacy of this community that it can gather and expand the National Campaign in Defence of Mother Earth and Territory.


Originally Published in Spanish by Rebelión

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

Minor edits for UK audience by Dorset Chiapas Solidarity




May 21, 2016

Mining companies are continuing to threaten projects in Chicomuselo

Filed under: Corporations, Mining — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 3:43 pm



Mining companies are continuing to threaten projects in Chicomuselo





Faced with the intention of several mining companies to install their projects in the communities of the municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas, residents have requested urgent intervention by the state and federal authorities to prevent the corporations getting their work projects accepted in exchange for money and by means of deception and division of the peoples.

On May 17th, residents of the communities of Chicomuselo arrested four people who identified themselves as being from mining companies and who came to the region to promote one of their projects in the ejido Grecia.

The four detainees are being guarded by the communities, who have been in resistance since the murder of Mariano Abarca Roblero, who defended their natural resources against mining exploitation by the Canadian company BlackFire.

Similarly, since 2014 several agreements have been signed with representatives of the state government and environmental authorities, where the position of non-exploitation of mineral resources in Chicomuselo and the Sierra de Chiapas region was ratified. Moreover, several “minutes of work” were agreed between communities and the current city council and government delegation of Frontera Comalapa.

Despite this, mining companies continue to offer large amounts of money to convince the people and governments to enable them to set up their projects in the region, leading to the destruction of nature and of the resources for the livelihood of the communities.

The people of Chicomuselo have asked the government to intervene urgently to solve the problem, in order to prevent possible action by the companies in communities which have been in resistance for many years.






May 20, 2016

Indigenous Mexicans Challenge Constitutionality of Mining Act

Filed under: Displacement, Human rights, Indigenous, Mining — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 6:41 pm



Indigenous Mexicans Challenge Constitutionality of Mining Act

  • The government reportedly granted nearly 2,173,141 hectares of concessions in Indigenous territories since 2000.The government reportedly granted nearly 2,173,141 hectares of concessions in Indigenous territories since 2000. | Photo: EFE
Me’phaa Indigenous communities in Guerrero urged the Supreme Court to set a legal precedent and declare the mining act unconstitutional.

Me’phaa Indigenous communities, in the state of Guerrero, urge the Supreme Court to set a legal precedent and declare unconstitutional the mining act.

During a press conference, the agrarian, municipal and traditional authorities of the Indigenous Me’phaa (Tlapaneca) community of San Miguel Del Progreso – Juba Wajiín announced that Supreme Court judge Norma Lucia will rule on a highly-anticipated case on May 25.

Accompanied by their advisers from the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, they encouraged the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the mining act passed in 1992, arguing it was violating international treaties that Mexico had signed and ratified.

“Today, this normative framework is used to dispossess Indigenous peoples of their land, ignoring that from the indigenous worldview land is not a commodity; their territory is the material basis of the reproduction of their culture and is impregnated with their spiritual values,” they said.

The court has a historic opportunity to set a precedent for the protection of Indigenous peoples and communities’ rights against large-scale economic projects designed without prior consultation.

They stressed that a thorough analysis of the Mining Act not only will benefit the communities in the state of Guerrero, but many others which today are affected by mining concessions, as the government reportedly granted over 2 million hectares of concessions in Indigenous territories since 2000.

They also recalled that the federal government asked the supreme court dismiss a case of mining concessions in the state of Guerrero, allocated without prior consultation with local communities.

In February 2014, a district judge in Guerrero ruled in favor of the Mep’ haas communities, suspending mining concessions allocated to Hoschild and Zalamera. The landmark ruling referred to international treaties that Mexico had signed and ratified, such as ILO 169 Convention, and case law of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR).

The decision benefitted 240 communities living in 11 towns, until the Economy Ministry appealed the ruling.–20160519-0064.html



April 11, 2016

Indigenous and Campesinos Rally in Mexico Against Canadian Miners

Filed under: caravan, Corporations, Displacement, Mining, Uncategorized — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 11:10 am



Indigenous and Campesinos Rally in Mexico Against Canadian Miners


indigenous-mexico.jpg_1718483346Mexican Indigenous want the government to stop giving Canadian mining companies permission to extract resources in their lands. | Photo: Reuters


Indigenous and campesinos from six southern Mexican states are due to arrive in Mexico City tomorrow to protest against mining companies.

A massive Indigenous rally is on its way to Mexico City to protest against mining concesions that the Mexican government is handing out primarily to Canadian companies, La Jornada reported.

About 12 days ago caravans of Indigenous activists, campesinos and supporters departed from six southern Mexican states towards Mexico City to protest against the environmental damage and other unfair practices and procedures that mining companies put in place affecting a huge population of Indigenous and campesinos.

The caravans are from Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, Veracruz and Tlaxcala, La Jornada added.

The six groups will arrive this Sunday and join the encampments already in place outside the Ministry of the Interior in Mexico City, Francisco Jimenez, leader of the Plan of Ayala National Movement, said.

He said that to date, Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio has “refused” to meet with an Indigenous and Campesino Front of Mexico commission to begin talks and seek solutions to the problems they face because of unregulated mining practices that affect them and their lands directly. “We call on the Ministry of the Interior to not act with authoritarianism,” and to accept talks with the Indigenous and campesino movements.



April 3, 2016


Filed under: Corporations, Displacement, Mining, water — Tags: , , , — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 12:46 pm




The murder and criminalization of those who defend the rivers

Justice for the victims, for COPINH and for the family of Berta Cáceres



by Jerónimo Díaz

Since 2005, at least 40 defenders of rivers against dam projects have been killed in Mexico, Central America and Colombia.

The launch in 2008 of the Mesoamerica Project between these countries has led to a rapid rise in the imposition of dams as a way to privatize water and energy. In response to this, the peoples have seen the need to defend their lands, rivers and territories. However, governments and private companies involved in such projects have criminalized them [the defenders] continuously.

Dams are presented as solutions towards combatting climate change, and they receive important economic and financial support. However, dams are not sustainable projects of clean energy. On the contrary, they are projects of death stained with blood, they destroy nature, they displace people, and they come from and benefit private interests.

The dam projects in Latin America represent a juicy business in both the construction and production stages as well as the privatization of energy (they are linked with mining activities). Several businesses invest in the energy sector in different countries of the continent, for example: the Brazilian Odebrecht or the Spanish Abnegoa, Hidralia Ecoener, and Iberdrola Gas Natural Fenosa, among others.

These projects benefit from the financial support of several European banks (DEG from Germany, FMO of Holland, Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation of Finland, SIFEM from Sweden…) as well as international banks for “development” (World Bank, International Development Bank, Central American Bank for Economic Integration…)

The dam projects represent important economic interests from both the public and private sector. These interests, along with the authoritarianism of governments, have resulted in murders, threats, and the detention of hundreds of campesinos and indigenous peoples in different countries.


Minutes after this article was published, we received notification of the murder of Nelson Garcia, a member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The messengers of death left 5 children without a father, and mark one more dot on a map that was out of date as soon as it was published.

On 3rd March 2016, the social fighter from Honduras, Berta Cáceres, was brutally murdered because she was opposing the hydroelectric megaproject ‘Agua Zarca’, which the Chinese-financed company Sinohydro Corporation wants to impose on the waters of the Gualcarque River. The waters of this river have been guarded for centuries by the indigenous Lenca people. The Mexican Gustavo Castro was also injured in this attack, and was detained in Honduras as a protected witness, a decision which caused indignation and fear among the social movements and media in which Gustavo, coordinator of ‘Otros Mundos Chiapas’ (Other Worlds Chiapas) participated.

This threats against the defenders of water and life in Central America are serious.

The map published to mark the Global Day of Action in Defence of Rivers on 14th March by the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams and in Defence of Rivers (MAPDER), an organisation which Gustavo belongs to, shows the systemic activity of the messengers of death – hitmen, police and military – when they try to impose hydroelectric projects on a country like Honduras.

With the murder of Santos Alberto Dominguez Benites, in May 2012, a wave of violence was unleashed against members and supporters of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), in which Berta Caceres was active. According to the statement from the organization, 24 year-old Santos Alberto, had participated “with energy and courage” in multiple COPINH struggles. He was killed by members of the National Police assigned to San Isidro municipality in the Itibuca department. A year later, in the same region, Tomas Garcia was killed by the army when he was on his way to a roadblock against the Agua Zarca dam. On top of the acts of harassment and intimidation that people in the group received, came the murders of Irene Meza and Moises Duron Sanchez, William Jacobo Rodriguez and Maycol Ariel Rodriguez Garcia, aged 15.  All of them were killed for defending the sacred river. In 2015 Juan Francisco Martinez was murdered, he opposed the hydroelectric project ‘Los Encinos’ on the Chinacla River. His community remains the object of attacks and threats.

The name of Justo Soto appears on the map. He was murdered by hitmen on 21st January, 2014. He was part of the Indigenous Coordinator of Popular Power of Honduras (CINPH). He spent years fighting against the binational dam ‘El Tigre’, on the Goascoran River, on the border with El Salvador. Soto had also participated in the defence of the community ‘Las Minitas’, threatened by the hydroelectric industry. Three weeks after his murder, on 16th February, the coordinator of the Las Minitas Indigenous Council, Pedro Perez, was assassinated.

It is striking that the violence against opponents of the hydroelectric projects, mostly indigenous Lenca, has worsened since 2009, the year in which the government gave de facto approval to the General Water Law, which grants concessions on water resources. The government installed after the coup d’état also issued Decree 233 which repeals the previous decrees which prohibited hydroelectric projects in protected natural areas. So, can the Honduran State guarantee the security of environmental activists, or is it rather complicit in the assaults?


The Mesoamerica Project

The Scale chosen by Geocomunes, the collective that made the map, leaves nothing to chance. When including Mexico, Central America and Colombia, the cartographers covered the area corresponding to the Mesoamerica Project which, according to the box on the map, was launched in 2008 with the objective of increasing the productive capacity of the region.

According to the information gathered by Bruno Acevedo, part of the geography master program at UNAM, in Central America hydroelectric plants generated 12,877 megawatts in 2013, equivalent to 47.3% of all the electric energy produced that year. In Mexico more than 70% of energy comes from fossil fuels, nonetheless, what is generated from the force of rivers is close to 12 thousand megawatts annually. The central issue here is that, according to Acevedo, the hydroelectric potential in the region far exceeds the productive capacity installed. In an interview with SubVersiones, he stated that “in the Central American countries and the Mexican Southeast, 100 thousand megawatts can be produced annually, which explains the planning and implementation of numerous hydroelectric projects and their articulation through the System of Electrical Integration of the countries of Central America (SIEPAC)”

For Acevedo there is no doubt: the SIEPAC is inserting itself in to what used to be called Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) and today is known as the Mesoamerica Project. The aim of the intergovernmental initiative is to integrate the electric network from south-east Mexico all the way to Panama to boost agricultural and industrial production as well as tourism and urbanisation. The author of the thesis entitled ‘The economic and political bases of the new imperialism in Central America’ asserts that:

“The installation of numerous hydroelectric power stations and the articulation of the electrical system are causing changes in territorial dynamics which strengthen the productive activities characterized by the internationalization of profits and the nationalization of conflicts.”

It is precisely the “nationalization of conflicts” that we see in the map, in which Guatemala appears to be the most dangerous country for the defenders of water, life and territory, with a total of 13 assassinations of people opposed to hydroelectric projects. In second place, Honduras, and in third place, Mexico, with the 8 murders that have afflicted the meetings of MAPDER. Followed by Colombia with 7 cases identified and Panama with 4. Although the list is not exhaustive – Geocomunes writes in their Facebook account that “this material is still under construction” and asks to make “an apology for the possible mistakes and oversights”-, the mapping exercise helps us to visualize the violence that results from the imposition of megaprojects in the region, specifically the large hydroelectric dams, almost always at the expense of the indigenous peoples and territories of Mesoamerica.


Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service





February 5, 2016

Meeting of those affected by dams and mining

Filed under: Mining, sipaz — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 4:23 pm



Meeting of those affected by dams and mining





On January 21 and 22, more than 70 delegates from 20 municipalities, representatives of 12 organizations, movements and parishes of the state, met in Boca del Cielo, Tonala, Chiapas, at the seat of the Regional Autonomous Council of the Coastal Zone of Chiapas to share experiences in the “Chiapas Meeting of those Affected by Dams and Mines.” At the meeting, called by the Mexican Movement of the Affected by Dams and in Defence of Rivers (Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos – MAPDER) and the Mexican Network of the Affected by Mining (Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería – REMA), they defined a strategy of common defence in the face of the multiplication of mining projects, dams and other infrastructure projects imposed in the state “without consulting the people.”

In the declaration that the participants produced, they voiced their analysis of the “grave situation that the country and the campesino communities, fishermen and indigenous of Chiapas are passing through due to the imposition of a development model and projects that threaten land and territory.” They denounced, “the advance of mining projects, with irreversible costs to the environment and the health of the people, imposed by cheating, buying out authorities, community division, among other tactics.” On another note, they condemned “the imposition of green capitalism which is reflected in wind farm projects, projects of Reduction of Emissions caused by Deforestation and Destruction of Forests (REDD) and payment for environmental services.” They assured the strengthening of “the organization and resistance proposing alternatives to the model of commercialization of life and corporate appropriation, despite the criminalization and persecution experienced by the defenders of land, territory and human rights” of the peoples, ejidos, organizations and movements who were present.

They called on the people to participate in a state-wide campaign in defence of water, against the privatization of water and dams, and for free rivers which will be held from March 14 to 22 under the banner “Rivers for life, not for companies.” They also invited people to “continue to create local and regional organization processes to confront the imposed projects, inform about the consequences of the model, protect land and territory, and defend all those forms of life which continue to give us sustenance and permanence on Mother Earth.” According to Otros Mundos A.C., “the role which violence plays is fundamental to understanding the imposition of mining projects and the control of territory.” In an interview, Gustavo Castro, a member of Otros Mundos, explained the complexity of extensive mining in Chiapas, saying that, “violence increases in the measure that communities decide to defend their territories […] movements in defence of territory not only have to confront the state or the companies, but they also have to deal with drug traffickers. It appears that we are in an armed dispute for territory.”



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