The Wixárika indigenous people delivered the following letter to President of Mexico Felipe Calderón in Mexico City on May 9, 2011. A delegation from the Wixárika people then presented the same letter to First Majestic Silver shareholders on May 19, 2011, during the company's annual general meeting in Vancouver.
The letter expresses concern about the impacts that a proposed silver mine will have on one of their most important sacred ceremonial sites, called Wirikuta. The Wixárika make annual pilgrimages to Wirikuta, which is a southeastern extension of the Chihuahua Desert located in the state of San Luis Potosí and rich in biodiversity.
The bulk of First Majestic Silver's mineral concessions for its Real de Catorce project overlap with a state reserve that was created to protect Wirikuta, which is also under consideration as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The company's concessions also fall within an Important Bird Area.
The Pact of Hauxa Manaká was an agreement that five state governors signed on April 22, 2008 for the preservation and development of the Wixárika culture, including the protection, preservation and promotion of the historical continuity of the Wixárika's sacred places and pilgrimage routes.
Urgent letter from the Wixarika People to the President of Mexico and to all the Peoples and Governments of the World
To the President of the United States of Mexico Felipe Calderón Hinojosa
To the People and Governments of the World
Mexico, D.F., May 9, 2011
We come personally from the Western Sierra Madre to deliver this urgent letter to demand that you keep your word that you publicly announced when you committed to respect and protect our sacred places in the pact of Hauxa Manaká in 2008 and to do so according to the fundamental laws of our country and the agreements, decrees, pacts and national and international conventions that the Mexican State has subscribed to guarantee the respect of our living and millennial culture.
We are a commission of agrarian and traditional authorities from the Wixárika People, who together form the Regional Wixarika Council in Defense of Wirikuta, and we bring the word that unites the sentiment of the councils of elders, of the wise chanters, of the pilgrimage groups entrusted with sustaining the arduous work of more than 500 community ceremonial centers and family ranches; we bring the word that together is one united decisive expression of the feelings of the families of all the communities in Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango and Zacatecas where the Wixaritari live and we want you to respond respecting our rights according to your commitment.
The Federal Government of our country granted 22 concessions that span more than 6,000 hectares in the Catorce highlands to the mining company First Majestic Silver Corp. and Real de Bonanza, S.A. de C.V. But the Catorce highlands and the whole of Wirikuta, Mr. President, is one of the altars of major importance where our pilgrims balance fertility and the equilibrium of the world for all its creatures and we have evidence that the mining operation would affect in a deep way the ecology, contaminating the zone and dry out our sacred springs.
In these times of extreme violence in our country, which are destroying our social fabric, with this megaproject you are kidnapping and want to assassinate our mother, The Earth, which you have threatened, and seek the forced disappearance of an entire people, the Wixarika People.
For this reason we demand that you immediately cancel these concessions and any others that have as their goal the extraction of minerals or the destruction of Wirikuta in any other way because if the object of all of this tragedy is money, with conviction we inform you that it will be infinitely cheaper to cancel these concessions than to lament the ecological, spiritual and social tragedy that digging and extracting the entrails of Wirikuta could provoke.
Wirikuta is the heart of our essence. If it ends, we die as a people. We have been making pilgrimages to Wirikuta for thousands of years and we know the Ancestors who live in each hill, each stony glade, each rocky crag, and each flower by their names and we have for that reason, according to international standards, the right of traditional, ancestral possession. We respect nevertheless, the communities and farmers who live in the area and we pray also that they may sow and reap their food, so that they may live well, care for and be protected by this sacred land whose vocation is not mining but the enlightenment and renovation of the heart of the world.
We see with much concern that despite the aforementioned Pact of Hauxa Manaká and despite the public opposition of our people to the mining operation in Wirikuta, you have maintained an inexplicable silence in the face of our demand, while our territorial rights have been violated, similarly our previous, free and informed consent, in addition carrying out this mining project will violate the environmental laws of our country, because the area is a Natural Protected Area by governmental decree with its management plan.
The fundamentals of our claim are in the first terms of Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, in its articles 2, 6, 7, 14 and 15; likewise, in Article 2 section b subsection IX, article 27 section VII, second paragraph of the Political Constitution of the United States of Mexico and its related laws.
It worries us even more, that some members of the federal government and the mining company itself are trying to convince us to accept the mine in exchange for granting us one of the sacred places from part of the expanse of Wirikuta, the Cerro Quemado o Raunaxi. We have already explained that the Sierra of Catorce is a whole unit, where the spiritual energy and power of our ancestors, who allow us to live our lives now and in the future, resides between the lowlands and the highest peaks of the mountains and throughout its interior, and it coincides best with the area of more than 144,000 hectares of the natural protected region. We will not accept for any reason that this type of activity be developed in the area as it is too great an affront for our people, for Mexico and for all of humanity, besides the obvious illegalities that these concessions represent.
Mr. President, we are the original people of this country, we are the ancient root and we reiterate, don't destroy our Wixárika culture, don't destroy yourselves for the ignorance of not knowing what these valleys of Wirikuta contain, and the mountains which illuminate the world.
For this reason our commission comes all the way here to deliver this written statement to you. We bring you our urgent word in a timely fashion. We are chanting pilgrims, cultivators; we are the legitimate authorities of our people of corn, deer and sun. We are Mexicans and we dress ourselves with flowers because we chant of peace.
Cancel the mine in Wirikuta, raise to the federal level the environmental and cultural protection and all of our descendants will thank you, otherwise the present generations will walk a difficult but firm path in the conviction of detaining this threat, we await your formal answer in your capacity of the Chief Federal Executive and the one principally responsible for the economic, environmental and social policy of our country.
Regional Wixarika Council for the Defence of Wirikuta