On Tuesday 19 October the judiciary power of the federal declared that the barite mine located in the ejido of Grecia, municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas, should remain closed until the Canadian companhy Blackfire, concessionary of the mine, comply with the environmental regulations demanded by the Secretary of Environment, Living, and Natural History (Semavihn) of Chiapas. This decision is the result of an appeal advanced by Semavihn against a decision granted to Blackfire on 30 April that authorized the re-opening of the mine that was closed following the killing of Mariano Abarca, leader of local opposition to mining-exploitation, on 27 November 2009.
This latest decision by the judiciary was welcomed by the bishop of the diocese of San Cristóbal, Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, who stressed that “as long as there is evidence for the environmental degradation caused by [the mine], such a mine that hurts society and only benefits a few managers cannot continue working.” He added that he thought that the decision to keep the mine closed would lower the tensions and worries of the people of the area affected by Blackfire’s mine.
The judicial decision comes a week after a march held in Chicomuselo by the Emiliano Zapata Campesino Organization-National Coordination for the Ayala Plan (OCEZ-CNPA), the Coordination of Autonomous Organizations of the State of Chiapas (COAECH), and the Movement for National Liberation (MLN) in which it is estimated that participated some 2000 protestors. The march, which sought to reject the previous decision authorizing the re-opening of the mine exploited by Blackfire, denounced that the mining operations bring no benefits for local people. Protestors also expressed their solidarity with the priest Eleazar Juárez Flores, who has been threatened with death for having accompanied groups opposed to the mine.
For more information (in Spanish):
Barite mine in Chiapas will continue closed until it follows regulations (La Jornada, 20 October)
It is important that the mine continue to be closed (Cuarto Poder, 25 October)
Conflict against firm continues (Cuarto Poder, 18 October)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):
Chiapas: Death-threats directed against the Chicomuselo parish (13 October 2010)
Chiapas: the Peace Network presents report on Chiapas’ border zone (13 October 2010)
Chiapas: Canadian delegation investigates mining abuses (2 April 2010)
Chiapas: Anti-mining activist Mariano Abarca killed (1 December 2009)