LA PLATOSA, Durango, Mexico, Oct. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - For a second time in the last two weeks, protesters today peacefully blocked access to the La Platosa mine operated by Canada's Excellon Resources Inc.
The protesters have maintained a camp at the mine's entrance since July 8. They continue to demand a resolution to the conflicts between Excellon, local landowners, and mine workers.
The protesters are accompanied by an international observer from the AFL-CIO, the largest U.S. labour federation, which has been monitoring the conflict.
"We are particularly concerned by Excellon's attempts to delegitimize the community, its legitimate concerns and its legal protest in order to avoid negotiations," said Brian Finnegan, AFL-CIO worker rights coordinator.
"We are also concerned about the complicity of the Mexican government in its willingness to use force to deny the rights of its citizens. We are here in solidarity with these local families and workers to peacefully observe and ensure the safety of these valiant human rights defenders," Finnegan said.
"Our blockade is not illegal. It is a protest that is within our rights and is not taking place on company land," said David Espinoza, President of the Ejido La Sierrita landowners' group.
"The company has utilized force and disinformation to avoid its responsibility to sit down at the negotiating table. But we are not going away. This morning, we blocked access of vehicles to the mine, but allowed personnel to pass through on foot," Espinoza said.
The landowners filed a lawsuit on Sept. 4 to rescind their land-use contract with the company regarding the La Platosa mine.
The lawsuit demands the return of 27 hectares sold to the company as part of the land-use agreement. The 27 hectares are subject to rescission based on Excellon's failure to comply with the contract. Excellon requires this land for entry to the mine, such that rescission will affect the entire mining operation. The suit also seeks return of 1,100 hectares leased to the company in 2008.
After two months of stopped production, Excellon partially restarted operations in the La Platosa mine on Aug. 29, when 100 Mexican soldiers and police used force and intimidation to break the Ejido's blockade of the mine. The protest began in early July after repeated attempts at talks with the company failed. The protest continues despite the presence of armed security guards at the mine's entrance.
The Ejido and the non-governmental organization ProDESC, which advises the Ejido, recently released a fact sheet regarding the conflict. It can be viewed at http://www.prodesc.org.mx/en/?p=259.
SOURCE: Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC)
For further information:
Alejandra Ancheita, ProDESC (Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales), Tel. +52-55-5212-2230, +52-55-3334-6045, [email protected].
PRODESC A.C. Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales, A.C. trabaja sobre la defensa, investigación y capacitación en derechos humanos a nivel local. www.prodesc.org.mx, 55122230