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The Popular Front in Defense of Soconusco 20 de junio (FPDS) held a press conference on April 10 to denounce the harassment by mining company El Puntal SA and the end of the investigation about the impacts of the mining activity on the health of the inhabitants of communities, after denying any type of pollution or environmental effect.
Acacoyagua and Escuintla are two municipalities of Chiapas (Mexico) that are part of the historic region of Soconusco; both municipalities declared themselves free from mining; however, mining companies continue operating and the people continue denouncing the damage caused, particularly the contamination of water sources and health effects.
In February, the FPDS left the dialogue table with the government of Chiapas; in the press conference they denounced, once again, the complicity of the government with the mining company developing the Casas Viejas, El Puntal SA project for the extraction of titanium.
Amada García Niño, member of FPDS, read a press release during the conference. She denounced the complicity of Chiapas government with El Puntal company in order to create division within the community and delegitimize the struggle of communities, and she also talked about the fact that the state police protects the mining company when it threatens and harasses FPDS members.
The inhabitants of these municipalities have been denouncing for over a year the pollution of rivers, skin problems suffered after bathing in them, as well as the increase of cases of cancer. At the press conference, the Front regretted the actions by the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat of Mexico, SEMARNAT, which ended the investigation.
"The conclusions of José Esaú Guzmán Morales are based on a visit to the Libertad land which consisted on a campaign for people to wash their hands, in a 3-hour visit on October 6th, without presenting the professional profiles of the staff, the epidemiological research protocol and water tests that show that the community is not exposed to any kind of contamination", reads the statement.
The Front also denounced that the government is justifying the permits granted to companies. For instance, they argue that El Puntal SA was authorized to extract ilmenite, a rock from which titanium is extracted, but the FPDS also rejects these arguments and highlights that there are several mining projects on the biosphere reserves El Triunfo and La Encrucijada which suffer the impacts.
In turn, the FPDS condemned the fact that the Federal Environment Protection Bureau (PROFEPA) and SEMARNAT are arguing that the projects are in their exploration stages, when they are clearly taking the mineral through two hidden roads.
As a conclusion, Amada García Niño made reference to the concern due to the threats and harassment to campsites and members of FPDS. In particular, she stated that El Puntal is blocking the way for drinking water management in La Cadena land, and denounced the harassment by the state police against the members of FPDS on April 8th in "José Luciano" campsite, located in Las Cadenas community. She also denounced the publication of articles on newspapers and radios "where they state that the FPDS members are conflict groups who threaten the people and extort the inhabitants to give way to the campsites".
For all these reasons, the FPDS is demanding the permanent suspension of mining activity in the region and requested the corresponding control by environmental authorities. She also demanded the end of the threats against the FPDS and the permanent suspension of permits and concessions.
Imagen: FPDS and REMA press conference in Tuxtla Gtz, April 10, 2017 FPDS and Otros Mundos A.C.
Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) already has a delegation in Geneva, Switzerland, to show the new regular session of the UN Human Rights Council –to take place from June 6th – 23rd, the widespread support to the negotiations for a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights, under negotiation in this multilateral framework.
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