NEWS: Groups call for Vancouver mining company to leave Mexico after killing of Bernardo Vásquez

Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez

Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez

CTV reports, "Human rights activists are calling on a Vancouver-based mining company to pull out of Mexico after the murder of a prominent opponent of the industry last week. Bernardo Vasquez, 32, was shot to death in his car in Oaxaca province on March 15, and two others were injured in the gunfire. He was the leader of a group opposed to a $55-million silver and gold mine operated by Fortuna Silver in the small town of San Jose del Progreso. Supporters believe the shooting death is linked to Vasquez's activism and they told CTV News he received threats in the weeks before his death through videos posted online and graffiti sprayed throughout town. Now activists around the world are calling for a full investigation into the recent violence."

The article continues, "'We don't have any proof of who was the physical responsible person of Bernardo's assassination, but there are several videos and photographs from different events that occurred in San Jose in the past months that lead us to believe that it was an act of repression coming from the local authorities acting on behalf of the Canadian company', Mexican environmentalist Octavio Rosas Landa said. ...A journalist working in Mexico told CTV News that Vasquez was about to hand over photographs to the Canadian Embassy of armed mining supporters. Vasquez told reporters he believed the pro-mining camp was being funded by the company, a claim Fortuna Silver flatly denies. Company president Jorge Ganoza Durant told CTV News that Fortuna Silver was not linked to Vasquez's murder in any way."

On March 16, upon learning of the killing of Bernardo Vasquez, Mexican civil society groups as well as the Council of Canadians (from Marseille, France) issued statements about his death, http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14154 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14174.

On March 21, Blue Planet Project organizer Claudia Campero Arena participated in a protest about this outside the Canadian embassy in Mexico City. Reforma.com reported, "Claudia Campero, leader of the Blue Planet, said that Bernardo was a local leader who had spoken out against the mining operations of the Vancouver-based company Fortuna Silver Mines in San José del Progreso, Oaxaca, known locally by the name of the subsidiary Minera Cuzcatlán. ‘A man deeply involved in the protest against Fortuna Silver Canadian mining and its impacts on local water sources was killed,’ Campero said in a telephone interview. She said that Canadian organizations are also asking for clarification of the murder. ‘They’re looking to change the law in Canada that when human rights are violated environmental and labor out of our country the people directly affected have recourse through the Canadian legal system,’ she said." That's at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14242. The media release about the embassy protest and our demands - issued by the Council of Canadians, Common Frontiers, MiningWatch Canada, Peace Brigades International-Canada, and Rights Action - can be read at http://canadians.org/media/water/2012/21-Mar-12.html.

The CTV news report adds, "Despite calls from activists to Fortuna Silver to pull out of San Jose, the company is planning to ramp up production at the mine."

The Council of Canadians/ Blue Planet Project is organizing a “Shout Out Against Mining Injustice” conference for this June 1-3 in Vancouver. Initial information about this “Shout Out” can be found on our website at http://www.canadians.org/shoutout. We have also decided to dedicate our conference to Bernardo Vásquez Sánchez and all activists who have been killed speaking against mining injustice.