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Cerro de San Pedro, Mexico: Members of Anti-Mining Group Assaulted by New Gold Inc./Minera San Xavier Workers and Supporters

Community members receive death threats as conflict deepens around Canadian-owned Mexican mine

by Tamara Herman

Pro-mine supporters attack Salon Ejidal in Cerro de San Pedro
Pro-mine supporters attack Salon Ejidal in Cerro de San Pedro
The Salon Ejidal in Cerro de San Pedro
The Salon Ejidal in Cerro de San Pedro
The Canadian-owned Cerro de San Pedro mine
The Canadian-owned Cerro de San Pedro mine

December 12, 2009 - Tensions are building in the Mexican village of Cerro de San Pedro, where a Canadian-owned gold and silver mine has been forced to close due to a Supreme Court decision that cancelled its environmental permit.

On Friday, December 11, 2009, residents of the Mexican village of Cerro de San Pedro and members of the anti-mine group Frente Amplio Opositor (FAO) were attacked by a group of mine supporters.  The next day, Federal parliamentarians were stoned in their vehicles by mine employees as they attempted to visit the village.  The Mendoza Pence family, who have spearheaded the village’s anti-mine campaign for over a decade, are now receiving death threats.

The Cerro de San Pedro gold and silver mine made international headlines when it was closed following a Supreme Court decision on November 17th, 2009.  The environmental permit for the open-pit mine, which used cyanide leaching pads, was revoked definitively by Mexican authorities in response to a legal case filed by project opponents.  Operated by Minera San Xavier, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian multinational New Gold Inc., the mine has been subject to local, regional and national opposition since its inception.

The Cerro de San Pedro “ejidatarios” – or traditional landholders – and FAO members were preparing to host a delegation of parliamentarians on December 11th when they were approached by over 100 individuals, most of whom were identified as employees of the mine.

The group of mine supporters entered the “Salón Ejidal”, or the ejido’s common house, where preparations for hosting the parliamentarians were underway on Friday afternoon.  Cerro de San Pedro resident Dolores Mendoza Poncé was apprehended and injured, and ejidataria Manuela Tristán was struck with stones.  FAO members Ernest García, Ivette Lacaba and James Del Tedesco were all hit and injured, while both García and Del Tedesco were robbed of their cameras.  Several of the people attacked were elderly.

Located less than 20 kilometers from the city of San Luis Potosí, the Cerro de San Pedro mine has been criticized for jeopardizing the health and safety of the area’s 1.5 million residents.  Environmental laws protect the arid, drought-prone mountains surrounding Cerro de San Pedro due to their importance to local water systems.  The village itself was a considered historic tourist destination, and its 400-year old churches and colonial structures are cracking and crumbling due to the daily mine blasting.

Residents also allege that the mine has divided the small community, with mine workers and families receiving compensation packages pitted against residents that work to protect the village and ecosystem.

While most of the individuals who attacked the Salon Ejidal were identified as New Gold employees and pro-mine locals, witnesses allege that others were not from the area and had received payments from the corporation.  The FAO states that the mine has kept its employees despite the shut-down in order to maintain political and social control. New Gold’s lawyers are attempting to re-open the mine, although a first injunction was denied last week.  The corporation has also bought local radio ads while developing what opponents have called a campaign of fear and intimidation.

This latest incident comes just after a visit of Canadian Governor General Michaelle Jean to Mexico, where she spoke about the responsibility of Canadian mining corporations operating overseas.  Canadian corporation Blackfire Explorations was forced to close its mine last week, after its present and former employees were arrested for the assassination of anti-mine organizer Mariano Abarca Roblero on November 27, 2009.

THE FAO IS MAKING AN URGENT CALL TO INDIVIDUALS, COLLECTIVES AND ORGANIZATIONS TO DENOUNCE THE HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN CERRO DE SAN PEDRO

PLEASE WRITE LETTERS CONDEMNING NEW GOLD INC. TO:

 Guillermo E. Rishchynski
Ambassador of Canada to Mexico
mexico@international.gc.ca
 

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
civilsocietyunit@ohchr.org
oacnudh@ohchr.org
cidhoea@oas.org
 

Hannes Portmann, Director, Corporate Development and Investor Relations, New Gold Inc., Direct: (416) 324-6014, Email: info@newgold.com,

 KOLEKTIVOAZUL/FAO


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tamara (Tamara Herman)
Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories
Member since May 2009

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Thanks....

for keeping us updated in the troublesome world of Mining, most especially how Canada is hurting Mexico. In Canada, they even allow hurting themselves with the Alberta Tar Sands, they disgust me.

So theses people are

So theses people are destroying a good part of the jobs in their own village and expected to get away with it. When you destroy people life they are generaly not happy about it. Also there is always been social unrest where the unemployment is high.

I do not know much about the company but from what I have read New Gold also won awards for their good practices. Meanwhile gold mining companies such as Barrick and many others have an horrible past record reguarding theses matters and get away with it because of their size.

This Type of One Sided Article

 This shows what lengths opponents will go to, accusing the company of violence. Whatever you think about current mining practices, people associated with New Gold they are reputable and respected business people you have gone out of their way to be excellent corporate citizens. There is no way they would harm their reputation by instigating violence.

There are 500 jobs here, and absolutely no evidence of environmental harm to ground water. The buildings were crumbling before they ever got there, and they have put considerable work into repairing them. I will be sending supporting emails so thanks for the links.

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