Nine major Canadian environmental and social justice organizations have issued an open letter to Mexican President Felipe Calderon urging that the outgoing President respect the demands of Wixarika people to protect the sacred Wirikuta region from Canadian mining.
Threatened by Canadian mining giants Revolution Resources and First Majestic Silver Corp, the area is of immense cultural and spiritual importance to the indigenous community. For the Wixarika people it is a sacred site which they consider to be the "place where the sun was born."
The Council of Canadians, The Assembly of First Nations, The Canadian Union of Public Employees, Common Frontiers, Mining Watch Canada, The Sierra Club of Canada, The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, KAIROS, and Alternatives, a social justice movement from Quebec, representing thousands of Canadians are arguing that the Mexican government's response to local opposition has been inadequate so far.
"Although your government has recently moved to conserve parts of this area as a "National Mining Reserve," the state has granted 79 concessions for mining operations, including those of Revolution Resources and First Majestic Silver Corp, that span 70% of the Wirikuta sacred territory and leave 98,000 hectares unprotected," the organizations state.
"The region has already been devastated by drought and cannot not handle the detrimental impacts of massive gold and silver mining operations which threaten to poison and dry up local water sources," says Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians who spearheaded the campaign upon visiting San Luis Potosi and hearing from community activists.
The Canadian groups are supporting the demands of the Wixarika to name the entire Wirikuta region a Biosphere Reserve that would ban all mining exploration and exploitation in any form and that would protect the rights of the Wixarika people to maintain their traditions and culture, and the livelihoods of the local population and campesinos. They are urging President Calderon to make it his legacy before he leaves office on November 30.
Photo: Taken by Maude Barlow on November 10, 2012 as she rode by horseback to a sacred site of the Wixarika in Wirikuta near Real de Catorce, more than 600 kilometres north of Mexico City.