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UPDATE: Oaxaca conference builds stronger networks to resist mining injustice

Campero and Cutfeet at the Oaxaca gathering in solidarity with Idle No More.

Campero and Cutfeet at the Oaxaca gathering in solidarity with Idle No More.

Liam Barrington writes in rabble.ca, “Between January 17th and 20th, nearly 500 activists from across Mexico, Central America and beyond, gathered in the Mexican mountain town of Capulálpam de Méndez, Oaxaca, (for) ‘Yes to life! No to mining!,’ organized by the Oaxacan Collective for the Defence of Territories.” Mexico City-based Blue Planet Project oraganizer Claudia Campero Arena was one of the participants at this conference, which “was one of the largest anti-mining gatherings the region has seen.”

He highlights, “John Cutfeet, a guest from the KI Nation in Northern Ontario and active participant in the Idle No More movement, brought parallel stories from his own community. When asked how the experience of a community in Northern Canada related to those of the people of Mesoamerica, he explained that indigenous peoples of the North and South ‘face similar experiences and similar tactics,’ in which ‘companies and government try to access lands and rob us of our birth rites to those lands.'” The Blue Planet Project and MiningWatch Canada were pleased to be able to cover Cutfeet’s travel expenses to this gathering and Barrington notes, “Cutfeet’s contributions were received with great enthusiasm.”

“Event attendees also heard from residents of another Oaxacan town, San José del Progreso, where two activists critical of the practices of Canadian-based Fortuna Silver Mines were murdered in 2012. Rosalinda Dionicio from San José del Progreso attended the event in Capulálpam. Dionicio received gunshot wounds in the leg in March of last year and still walks with a cane as a result of the attack. She is also the cousin of another anti-mining activist, Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez, one of the two community members murdered in 2012. …For the people of San José del Progreso and other communities affected by mining, the site of the conference was significant, as Capulálpam de Méndez is one of only a few towns in the region that has succeeded in suspending all local mining activities. Due to water contamination, the nearby Natividad silver and gold operation (run by another Canadian firm, Continuum Resources) had its operations suspended indefinitely by the federal prosecutors for environmental protection in 2007.” This past November, Blue Planet Project campaigner Meera Karunananthan and I participated in a human rights delegation to San José del Progreso focused on the impact of the Fortuna Silver mine.

Barrington concludes, “The event focussed on finding ways that affected communities across the hemisphere could work in solidarity with one another to challenge the mining industry and its political backers. Through stronger networks, participants felt more confident that their local struggles were not isolated instances, and thus could be challenged by a range of other communities with connections to the relevant aggressors. …Stronger networks, many participants felt, meant their small-scale struggles for land, water and basic human rights, had the potential to challenge the power of large multi-national corporations and the governments that support them, as both the KI First Nation in Ontario and the people of Capulálpam, Oaxaca have been able to demonstrate in recent years.”

Liam Barrington’s blog can be read in full at http://rabble.ca/news/2013/01/they-know-they-are-not-alone-mesoamerican-anti-mining-activists-connect-dots. Claudia Campero Arena’s blogs on the ‘Yes to life! No to mining’ gathering can be read at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18932 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18863. For Meera Karunananthan’s blog about the human rights delegation to San José del Progreso, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?p=18037.