(Chalchihuites, Zacatecas) Gold Divides Us, Life Unites Us: Community of San José de Buenavista Against the Plunder of the Mining Company, First Majestic

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(This communique comes from the Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining [REMA] and the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Zacatecas [OCMZac]). It addresses the deceitful and aggressive attempt of the Canadian Mining company, First Majestic, to dispossess ejido members of their land in the municipality of Chalchihuites, Zacatecas. Against the misinformation being spread and the divisions being produced in the community, the communique calls for an informed and collective decision-making process regarding the sought-after mining exploration project. The original communique was published by REMA and can be found here).

On July 2nd, in the ejido of San José de Buenavista, in municipality of Chalchihuites, Zacatecas, there was an attempt to carry out an agrarian assembly. In this assembly the ejido members were invited to discuss and outline their rejection or approval of the exploration project of the Canadian mining company, First Majestic. First Majestic seeks to expand their operations inside the municipality of Chalchihuites, and together with mining companies that have concessions in the same zone, seek to occupy 650 square kilometers of 903 square kilometers total that make up the municipality (OCMZac. 2018). That is to say, 72% of the municipality is to be concessioned. Thus, where will the more than 10,000 people live that inhabit the municipality? Will they live in the remaining 28%?

As always happens in these cases, the mining company, through their engineer in charge of the Department of Corporate Social Responsibility, has been generating disinformation and lies regarding the project of expansion and exploration. The clear purpose is to produce bitterness and divisions in the community. Furthermore, to violate of the law and the agrarian rights of the ejido members. The ejido members, who without having had a sufficient or integral process, nor adequate information regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the expansion/ exploration project, have to define their destiny whether to accept an offensive and ridiculous agreement of 5 years in which they are being offered 20,000 pesos divided into 73 payments. That is to say, 273.97 pesos every month, which only proves that value the mining company has put on the lives of the population.

The assembly began amidst tension. Among the sources of the tension was the presence of mining personal before the assembly came together, as demanded by the procedure described in the current agrarian law. The tension increased when a group of ejido members negated the right of participation of those who, in use of their rights laid out in Article 30 of the Agrarian Law, attended as accredited representatives with their proxy power. They requested that the assembly follow the procedure laid out in the law, with roll call that corresponds to the ejido register, the verification of quorum, and above all, the verification of land holders and representatives in an appropriate manner. This is fundamental as the company is dividing the ejido and has people in their favor, of which it is unknown whether they are ejido members or not, who are present in such assemblies.

In response to these requests of both due process and the law, the response of some of the ejido members that are in favor of First Majestic was aggressive and rude. In the absence of legal arguments to back them up, they attacked above all compañeras serving as representatives, as well as ejido members, with macho and misogynist comments. With this, they made clear the lack of information they have regarding the potential risks present if they accept a project of mining exploration in their territory.

It is a fact that those ejido members in favor of the mining project, are negating—and therefore violating—all of the procedures described in the agrarian law. In that context, without reason and without legal basis, they seek to impose a project that would bring grave consequences to the entire population, the environment and the principal agricultural and economic activities of the zone.

It should be noted that, without carrying out the due process, without carrying out roll call, without showing their corresponding accreditations, by violating the procedures described in the agrarian law, and without arguments to generate a deep discussion by those in favor of the mine, they left the assembly. The group against the mine along with the chairman of the assembly stayed in the ejido meeting space. The event ended with the elaboration of an act of documentation of the events that were led by, among other people, the treasurer of the ejido.

It is essential to not forget that the inhabitants of San José are largely campesinxs and their community life depends principally on livestock and agriculture, which has historically provided them with benefits and above all their well-being. However, today they are in grave risk of losing that well-being due to the pressure, harassment and social division caused by the mining company, First Majestic.

From the Mexican Network of Those Affected by Mining (REMA) and the Observatory of Mining Conflicts in Zacatecas (OCMZac), we denounce and reject the actions being carried out by First Majestic seeking to dispossess the community of their territory. At the same time, we declare our total support and solidarity with those that oppose the mining project of death. At the same time, we address with respect the entire population of the ejido, who we invite to carry out a process with sufficient and adequate information, that helps them resolve in the best way the important decision regarding their present/ future.

Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA)
Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de Zacatecas (OCMZac)

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