Mexico: Colima campesinos declare mine-free zone

Vancouver-based IMPACT Silver Corp boasted in a press release this month of promising "second phase drill results" from the San Juan Project, located 150 meters north of its producing Noche Buena Mine and four kilometers southwest of its 500-tonne-per-day Guadalupe Production Center. These are all old mines that the company is now reviving in what it calls the "Royal Mines of Zacualpan Silver-Gold District" of central Mexico. (MarketWired, Jan. 7) But in a community assembly in November, campesinos from the local Nahua indigenous community of Zacualpan (Comala municipality, Colima state) voted to decalre their territory a mine-free zone. On Dec. 4, a delegation from the Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan and Bios Iguana presented the decision to the Federal Agrarian Tribunal in Colima's state capital. Citing a threat to local water sources and the community's "right to consultation," the Indigenous Council pledged to resist any expansion of mining operations at the sites.

With 360 mining concessions covering the majority of its territory, the small state Colima is one of the most intensively exploited in Mexico. The Zacualpan Indigenous Council, which is affiliated with the Mexican Network of Mining-Impacted Communities (REMA), says that the giant mine at Peña Colorado, straddling the border with Jalisco and operated by an Italian-Argentine-Indian consortium, has occassioned both severe environmental degradation and human rights abuses over the 44 years of its operation. They especially cited the case of Celedonio Monroy Prudencio, a member of the Ayotitlan Council of Elders, who has been under an official order of proection by federal judicial authorities since receiving death threats in October, apparently in retliation for his protests against the mine. (Desinformémonos, Dec. 9, translated by Angry White Kid blog; La Jornada, Nov. 25; La Jornada, Nov. 16)