Durango Secretary of State Recognizes the Community's Goodwill and Regrets Excellon's Unwillingness to Negotiate
MEXICO CITY, Aug. 14, 2012 /CNW/ - Excellon Resources quickly broke an attempted negotiation with communal landowners La Sierrita on Monday, August 13. The meeting took place in the offices of the Mexican federal Secretary of Government in Mexico City.
Mr. Triana Tena, representative of the Liaison Unit of the Secretary, hosted the meeting along with Arturo Yañez and Jaime Fernández Saracho, representatives of the Secretary of Labour and of Government of the State of Durango, respectively.
The landowners' representative body (Ejido as it is known in Spanish) was represented by its Negotiation Committee, members of which travelled over 10 hours from Durango to attend the meeting. The Negotiation Committee was led by the president of the General Assembly, David Espinoza. Members of the Proyecto de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC), advisors to the Ejido, were also present. Robert Moore, Chief Operating Officer of Excellon Resources Inc., and his attorneys represented Excellon de México S.A. de C.V. at the table.
After a short introduction and not even five minutes into the meeting, attendees report, Mr. Moore took the microphone and asked if the peaceful protest at the entrance of the mine had been lifted. The government representative responded that it had not been lifted and the landowners stated that, as before, they were willing to lift the blockade during negotiations as the two parties made advances to resolve their grievances.
According to the landowners, Mr. Moore said that he was disappointed in the government because representatives had told him that the blockade would be lifted before he sat down to negotiate. With that, he stood up and left the room.
The Ejido's president, David Espinoza, stated that after a break, Mr. Fernández Saracho recognized the goodwill of the Ejido representatives to dialogue and that he hoped that Excellon representatives would gather themselves so that they could restart negotiations. According to Mr. Espinoza, Mr. Triana Tena, of the Liaison Unit of the federal government expressed outrage at Excellon's posture.
The Ejido's president, David Espinoza, made clear that the Ejido has been ready to negotiate. He insisted that the Ejido was ready for negotiation on August 2 in a meeting with the federal government in Gómez Palacio, Durango - a meeting which the company refused to attend - and it would be ready when Excellon decided that it is willing to negotiate. "We have struggled to defend our human rights and our right to self-determination of our land by means of a just, equal and respectful relationship with the company."
Alejandra Ancheita, ProDESC director and advisor to the Ejido, stated that: "It is not possible that the government tolerate a company that violates the rights of the Ejido members. The government cannot accept a company that places conditions on the State and Federal Government. What the Company is doing is an offence." She also denounced the continued attacks and disparagement of the Ejido and ProDESC on the part of Excellon and Carlos Pavón Campos, the leader of the Proyecto de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales A.C. Sindicato Nacional Minero, Metalúrgico Don Napoleón Gómez Sada, a union that has allied with the company.
"It is important to us that you, representatives of the government, have been witness to Excellon's intransigence," she added.
In 2008, after three months of conflict between the company and the Ejido, the two parties signed a new land rental contract which included important progress for both parties. The contract also established clauses in which the company was obligated to contribute to development projects for the Ejido that would better the quality of life of the community.
Nonetheless, in the last four years, the company has failed to comply, and has even violated, the clauses of this agreement. The Ejido members have tried to sit with company representatives and review the violations of the land rental contract to resolve the conflict since November of 2011 without success.
"Ejido members were forced to initiate this protest after almost eight months of attempts to dialogue with Excellon to resolve several non-compliance and violations of the land rental agreement that it signed with us in 2008," said Daniel Pacheco, Ejido member. "It is unfortunate that a company that earned 30 million dollars in gross profit in one year, largely from the La Platosa mine, can't make the minimal commitment to support development of our community," he added.
The Ejido General Assembly, after exhausting its efforts at dialogue and due to the unwillingness of the company to work together, decided to exercise its legitimate right to peacefully protest the company's La Platosa operations. The Ejido hopes that the company will comply with the clauses of the land rental agreement including its obligation to build a water treatment plant for water expelled from the mine, the granting of concessions for transportation of minerals and food services in the mine, just rental payments, among others.
The Ejido, through its Negotiation Committee, has attended several meetings with the state and federal government to resolve the conflict under a human rights framework. While the position of the Ejido has proven flexible, the company has radicalized its position; insisting that the Ejido pay it economic damages and threatening to close to the mine.
SOURCE: Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC)
For further information:
Alejandra Ancheita, ProDESC (Proyecto de Derechos Humanos, Económicos, Sociales y Culturales), (Tel.) +55-5212-2230, +55-5212-2229, +55-3334-6045, [email protected].