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Upcoming film screenings on indigenous Wixarika opposition to Vancouver-based mining company


In November 2009, Vancouver-based First Majestic Silver Corp. purchased underground mineral rights in the Wirikuta desert, near the town of Real de Catorce in the state of San Luis Potosi in Mexico. But the indigenous Wixarika (Huichol) nation oppose First Majestic Silver because:

  • of the sacredness of the land;

  • Indigenous peoples have the right to be consulted about any project that affect their territory, yet no consultations have taken place;

  • the mining concessions granted to the company by the Ministry of Economy violate the Hauxa Manaka Accord signed in 2008 by president Felipe Calderon to protect the sacred sites of the Huichol people;

  • the management plan of the Natural Protected Area of Wirikuta explicitly prohibits mining;

  • the mining claim overlaps the only aquifer in the Wirikuta, an underground water source that provides water to 16 villages and supports the ecosystem of the desert;

  • the vast amount of water needed by the mine, and the pollution to water that can result from mining activities;

  • the mining claim threatens the Cerro Quemado mountain, an important site for the Huichol ceremonial migration.

In September 2010, the leaders of the Wixarika signed a declaration of opposition demanding “the immediate cancellation of all mining concessions” in their sacred lands. The Blue Planet Project has been supporting their struggle for the past several years.

In May 2011, we helped cover the travel costs of Wixarika delegate Jesus Lara Chivarra to Vancouver to intervene at the First Majestic Silver’s annual shareholders meeting. In November 2011 and February 2012, Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero highlighted the struggle to protect the Wirikuta in the campaign blogs here and here. In May 2012, Campero participated in Wirikuta Fest, a cultural event of 60,000 people in Mexico City calling for the protection of the Wirikuta from First Majestic Silver’s mining plans. In June 2012, Chivarra was also a keynote speaker at our Shout Out Against Mining Injustice public forum with more than 400 people in attendance. In addition to the Friday night keynote address, he participated in the Saturday workshops and the Sunday strategy session.  And in November 2012, Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow travelled by horseback to the sacred land of the Wirikuta. Her op-ed A plan to save the Place Where the Sun Was Born can be read in English here and in Spanish in La Jornada.

There is now a new film called Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians that tells about the struggles of the Huicholes people to resist the incursion of resource extraction on their sacred territory. Screenings of the film are being organized in Canada and the United States accompanied by Juan Jose Ramirez Garcia (a former traditional governor and spiritual guide who is featured in the film), Enrique Ramirez (who is also in the film), and Hernan Vilchez (the director of the film).

The filmmakers note, “The goal is to have a major impact with this cross-cultural exchange, connecting with indigenous and other marginalized communities along the way and highlighting related local issues along the way. Each individual event is being organized with a local committee, which will help decide the program and set the agenda. The incomes of the tour will be publicly reported in detail and divided according to the terms of a historic agreement signed in August 2014 with filmmakers and traditional authorities representing the four main Wixarika territories.”

Please consider attending one of these events:

  • Montreal, Concordia University, Nov. 24

  • Montreal, McGill University, Nov. 25

  • Toronto, University of Toronto, Nov. 26

  • Toronto, York University, Nov. 27

  • Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival, Nov. 28

  • Vancouver, Cultural Exchange, Local First Nations Groups – Nov. 29

A trailer for the film can be seen here and its Facebook page is here.