Anti-mining protests in Mexico, Canada

The July 22 Global Day of Action Against Open-Pit Mining, most widely observed in the Andean nations, also saw coordinated actions in NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada. In the Oaxaca village of Santa María Zacatepec, a national gathering was held, bringing together some 100 indigenous and popular organizations, who pledged a campaign of protests against mining projects and “structural reforms” announced by the Enrique Peña Nieto government. The Declaration of Santa María Zacatepec said that “it is time to pass from resistance to the offensive,” and for “respecting all forms of struggle.” Participating organizations included the Mexican Alliance for the Self-Determination of the People (AMAP); the Indigenous Agrarian Zapatista Movement (MAIZ); the Peoples’ Front in Defense of Land and Water of Puebla, Tlaxcala and Morelos; the National Civil Resistance Network; the Council of Ejidos and Communities Opposed to La Parota Dam; the Peoples’ Land Defense Front of Atenco; and the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME).

In solidarity with the Mexican anti-mining movement, a group of Canadian protesters gathered outside the Toronto stock exchange. The focus of the Toronto protest was the pending mineral project at Cerro de San Pedro, San Luis Potosi, leased to New Gold of Vancouver, formerly Metallica Resources. But Canada has a growing corporate footprint in Mexico’s mineral sector. Most of Mexico’s 440 mining concessions go to Canadian companies. In the state of Chiapas alone, 72 projects cover 727,435 hectares of land (an area slightly larger than the Palestinian Occupied Territories). Half of this territory is now owned by two Canadian companies: Linear Gold and the Frontier Development Group. Often, the lands in question passed into private ownership without the informed consent of indigenous and campesino communities living there. Similar situations are reported in the states of Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Sonora, Oaxaca and Coahuila. (APROPraxis Pictures, July 22)

A continent-wide day of action against the Canadian mining industry is being organized for Aug. 1, following a call from the Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN). (Intercontinental Cry, July 12)

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  1. Chiapas: march against water privatization
    Some 500 people marched July 20 in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, capital of Mexico’s southern Chiapas state, to protest plans to privatize the city’s municipal water system, and to demand that the state government oversee a popular vote on the issue. The city government signed a concession with a private firm last month to manage the water system and build new works. (La Jornada, July 20)