Five years ago today, anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca Roblero was killed in Chiapas in southern Mexico. He had blamed the Calgary-based mining company Blackfire Exploration Ltd. for contaminated local rivers, the loss of local crops, the death of livestock and had called for the company to leave his community.
In 2009, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow said, "A man deeply involved in the protest against the Canadian mining company Blackfire has been murdered outside his home. This tragic outcome can be traced directly to the Harper government’s refusal to end the impunity currently enjoyed by Canadian mining companies."
Just days after his death, Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena participated in a protest outside the Canadian embassy in Mexico City. She said the protest was "both a memorial to the activist and an opportunity to take up his cause". In early-December 2009, Campero was also interviewed on CBC Radio's The Current about his death.
In March 2010, the Toronto Star reported, "Canadian mining watchdog groups want the RCMP to investigate Blackfire Exploration Ltd., the Calgary mining company with operations in Mexico. ...The United Steelworkers and three Canadian watchdog groups (Common Frontiers-Canada, the Council of Canadians and Mining Watch Canada) planned to file an official complaint with the RCMP under the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act over allegations that Blackfire was paying the mayor of a small Mexican town in return for the mayor’s favour."
And this March, nine groups, including the Council of Canadians, reiterated their demand that charges be laid against Blackfire and its senior officials.
While those found guilty for his murder have already been released from jail, others (including individuals with connections to Blackfire) who could have been involved in Mariano's death have never been thoroughly investigated. This is a travesty of justice.
On this anniversary, we have signed an open letter that calls "on both Mexican and Canadian authorities to ensure that justice is served with respect to the death of Mr. Mariano Abarca Roblero... The RCMP has at hand all the necessary evidence to bring the case of corruption against Blackfire to the attention of the Office of Canada’s Attorney General. As such, we call on that office to expedite the findings and make them public. Both countries, Canada and Mexico, have human rights instruments that they can call on to ensure that justice is served, and we demand no less."
Blackfire's open-pit barite mine in Chiapas was closed in 2011 over environmental concerns.
For further background, please click here for blogs on this situation from over the past five years.