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An international verification mission organized by the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) around the conflict over the installation of a gold mine in Zacualpan community, Colima state, Mexico, was blocked by members of the State police and over thirty civilians on March 1st. According to a statement issued by the Mission, State authorities had been notified about the fact that the mission was going to take place. The blocking is considered an act of complicity with the mining project, which according to the statement is rejected by most of the inhabitants of Zacualpan.
The delegates of the mission were also physically and verbally attacked. “20 national and international figures representing human rights and environmental groups, in addition to academics and journalists” were part of the mission, said Claudia Gomez, member of the Guadalajara Lawyers Collective, in an interview with Real World Radio.
The conflict in Zacualpan began last year and the communities are opposing the implementation of the project due to the “repercussions that this activity could have on the way of living of communities, their culture, territories, but also because in Zacualpan there is an important water spring which supplies over half of Colima city and the entire Villa de Alvarez municipality. The mine would be located only 800 meters away from it”, said Gomez.
The mission is denouncing, among other things, that the minority group in favor of the mining project has been committing different crimes, such as threatening the people who oppose the project, or not letting them circulate in their own territories. In addition “authorities do nothing about this (…) they are ensuring impunity and even protecting this group”, said Gomez.
In February 2014, the community demanded the resignation of the Community Assets Commissioner of Zacualpan, Carlos Guzman Teodoro, for his favorable position towards the mining project. After his removal, Taurino Rincon Lorenzo was elected, who almost immediately started suffering threats and pressure to leave his position. Just like him, members of social and environmental organizations also suffered threats and harassment by the police, according to the news website Perriodismo: http://www.perriodismo.com.mx.
In terms of the next steps, the lawyer stated that between today and tomorrow, the delegates of the mission aim to “meet representatives of the state and federal governments, demanding security for the community, respect for the new authorities elected, the possibility to defend their community resources and to be able to enter the community tomorrow”.
La oposición a la minería debe entenderse como la lucha por los derechos que esa actividad no respeta, pues “cada derecho que se le otorga a una empresa, es un derecho que se le resta a una comunidad”, asegura el coordinador del Observatorio de Conflictos Mineros de América Latina (OCMAL), César Padilla.
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