Campesinos block gold mine in Zacatecas

Ejidatarios (communal peasants) from the community of Salaverna, in Mexico’s north-central Zacatecas state, have partially shut operations at a gold mine owned by magnate Carlos Slim, in protest over the destruction of natural resources and health risks to local residents, according to Edith Ortega González, local director of the activist network El Barzón. Ortega said six of the campesinos have formed a permanent plantón, or protest vigil, at the gates of the Frisco Tayahua mine, “in defense of their land.” She said state and federal authorities had “abandoned” the community, in Mazapil municipality, while dynamite explosions and other mining activity cause landslides on the slopes above the ejido (communal land-holding). Several homes were damaged in a Dec. 6 landslide, and the mining operations have also released toxic gases, Ortega said. The explosions in the area remain ongoing. Ortega added that there is a title despute to the land-holding, and many of the campesinos have already abandoned the ejido. The 40 or so who remain “run the risk of being violently evicted by the company’s gunmen.” (OCMAL, Dec. 26)