Training in Mexico for the strengthening of indigenous and peasant communities

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July 29, 2016

Strengthening of MORELOS indigenous and peasant communities to defend themselves from the damage caused by mining activities

This project was made possible thanks to funds from the "8 × 1000 of the Waldensian Church".

Why did we work in Miacatlán (Morelos)?

The Miacatlán community was chosen as the workshop site because within its territorial area there is a mining concession of the Canadian mining company "Alamos Gold Company". Miacatlán is one of the 4 communities, along with Temixco, Xochitepec and Cuernavaca (capital of Morelos), which includes 7 mining concessions, and represents one of the 16 local communities that would be affected by mining operations, should they start.

Approximately 200,000 people live within a radius of 10 km from where the mine is supposed to be built. Through the extraction project "Esperanza", the company plans to extract gold and silver in an area of ​​15 thousand hectares which also includes the archaeological site of Xochicalco, consisting of the pre-Hispanic pyramids and the ceremonial sites of the culture of the Epiclasic period (650-900 BC) that would suffer serious damage due to detonations. Currently civil society is opposing the project as this was imposed without prior, free and informed consultation, provided for by the 169 Convention of the ILO of the United Nations, thus violating a fundamental right of indigenous peoples. The Semarnat (Ministry of the Environment of Mexico) rejected the Environmental Impact Assessment of the previous company (Esperanza Silver Company) for the harmful consequences that the extraction project would bring to the aquifer, the stability of the archaeological site and the poor visibility that the air pollution (dust) would cause the nearby airport of Tetlama.

The previous company has therefore sold the title to the current company (Alamos Gold Company) which has resubmitted a new study, which is currently under review.

Archaeological site of Xochicalco

What did we offer them and why?

Systematically the indigenous communities suffer from the lack of information and scientific knowledge related to environmental pollution issues and damage to health that the extractive megaprojects generate in the territory in which they are installed and for this reason they are often weak subjects, disadvantaged in front of large transnational companies regardless of the negative externalities they create. Furthermore, indigenous and rural populations suffer from the scarcity and opacity of legal and strategic notions on how to defend themselves against human rights violations and abuses perpetrated by the company and the local government.

For this reason, the project implemented served to balance these differences between companies and communities: the participants acquired new information, skills and knowledge in the environmental, health, social, human rights and corporate and institutional responsibility fields.

The possibility for themselves to replicate the course to the remaining part of citizens, who could not attend the training, will serve to spread to more people what they have learned and use the information obtained to strengthen the community itself. The acquired knowledge and skills will be useful tools to request respect for one's rights.

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