With gold prices skyrocketing, Vancouver based Continuum Resources mining company has opted to reopen the semi-abandoned mine of La Natividad, historically Oaxaca’s richest gold and silver field.
However, this move has not come without resistance from the surrounding communities of Ixlán, and especially Capulálpan, which lie 60km north of Oaxaca’s capital city.
“For 230 years, gold and silver mining companies have been exploiting tunnels in the mountains,” explains Francisco Garcia López, member of Capulálpan’s Commission of Communal Goods. “The whole territory of Capulálpan is communally owned.”
In contradiction to Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization (ratified by Mexico), the community of Capulálpan has seen its water supply diminish and deteriorate as a result of mining activity, has seen its lands eaten up by Continuum (54,000 hectares at La Natividad alone), but has seen no action by the government to protect its rights.
As a result, members of the community took measures into their own hands, blocking the main highway out of Oaxaca City for five hours to force the government into negotiations.
Consequent to these negotiations, Continuum had several environmental complaints logged against it, which led to a temporary closure of La Natividad. However, Continuum states that it is determined to carry its project forward, violence or no.
For more information:
Canada’s Mining Continuum: Resources, Community Resistance and “Development” in Oaxaca, Mexico (upsidedownworld.org 23/1/2008)