Landowners Demand Respect of Their Human Rights After Various Attempts to Dialogue with the Company
On July 11, 2012, Excellon Resources, Inc., a Canadian mining company, threatened landowners of the Ejido "La Sierrita" (Ejido) and their adviser, Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC), with criminal proceedings and judicial action in response to the landowners' peaceful blockade of the company's La Platosa mine. On July 8, 2012, more than seventy landowners of the Ejido located in the municipality of Tlahualilo, Durango, decided to carry out a peaceful blockade of the La Platosa mine.
The landowners’ actions are the result of the company's unwillingness to resolve a series of its own breaches and violations of the land rental contract signed between the company and the landowners in April 2008.
In its July 11, 2012 press release, the company announced that the state and federal governments will intervene in the conflict between the company and the landowners in the next 24 to 48 hours. The company calls the landowners' actions illegal, but fails to mention that these actions are the landowners' response to nearly eight months of repeated efforts by the Ejido to resolve the company's flagrant violations of the 2008 land rental contract. Having exhausted various channels of dialogue with little response from Excellon, the Ejido Assembly decided to exercise its legitimate right to peacefully protest in front of the mine in order to force the company to resolve and end a series of violations and breaches of the land rental contract. The Ejido also calls on Excellon to comply with the clauses of the contract requiring the construction of a water treatment plant, the granting of concessions, and to pay fair rental prices for the land, among others.
The company's threats represent a serious risk to the physical integrity and security of the landowners who are trying to peacefully demand that the company respect their human rights.
In 2004, the mining company Excellon de Mexico, a subsidiary of the multinational corporation Excellon Resources Inc., established itself in Tlahualilo, Durango, leasing communal land from the Ejido "La Sierrita" land via an abusive and unfair contract designed almost exclusively for the benefit of the company. In 2007, with the assistance of ProDESC, the Ejido conducted a blockade of the mine in order to address the unfair contract. In 2008, after three months of protest, the Ejido and Excellon signed a new contract, establishing provisions that require the company to comply with clauses that contribute to the development of community projects and better the quality of life of the landowners.
Excellon, however, has violated these clauses of the land rental contract, forcing the landowners at "La Sierrita" to call for a revision of the contract. Since November of 2011, the Ejido has repeatedly tried to sit down with Excellon leadership to resolve the conflicts. Representatives of the company delayed the dialogue process several times and showed little willingness to resolve the conflict despite acknowledging breaches and violations by the company. The parties agreed to another meeting on July 6th of this year, but the company unilaterally cancelled the meeting two days beforehand. Therefore, the members of the Landowners Assembly decided on July 8 to peacefully blockade the mine.
Therefore, the signatory organizations demand:
1. Immediate appropriate measures to ensure the safety and physical integrity of the landowners.
2. The guarantee the right of the landowners of "La Sierrita" to legitimately demand compliance land rental contract and thereby avoid repressive action by local, state or federal officials with any use of force against the landowners.
Please immediately send these demands to the following appropriate officials:
Lic. Felipe De Jesús Calderón Hinojosa
President of the United States of Mexico
Residencial Oficial de Los Pinos, Casa Miguel Alemán, Col. San Miguel Chapultepec, C. P. 11850, D. F.
Dr. Raúl Plascencia Villanueva
President, National Human Rights Commission
Edificio “Héctor Fix Zamudio”, Blvd. Adolfo López Mateos 1922, 6° piso, Col. Tlacopac San Ángel, Del. Álvaro Obregón, C.P. 01040, México, D.F.
Tels. y fax (55) 56 81 81 25 y 54 90 74 00
Jaime Fernández Saracho
Secretary of State of Durango
Palacio de Gobierno, Planta Alta, 5 de Febrero esq. Bruno Martínez, Zona Centro, C. P. 34000, Durango, Durango
Tel. (01) 618 8118814 ext. 143
Lic. Felipe de Jesús Martínez Rodarte
President of the Human Rights Commission of the State of Durango
Cerro Gordo No 32, 2do Piso, Fracc. Lomas del Parque, Durango, Durango
Tel: 618-130-1969 y (01) 618 1301970
Ing. Bernardo de Anda Magallanes
President of the Government of the City of Mapimi
Hidalgo No. 1 C. P. 35200, Mapimí, Durango
Tel. (01) 872 7622111 y (01) 872 0722776
Ing. Horacio González Alvarado
President of the Government of Tlahualilo
C. Hombres Ilustres s/n y
Emiliano Zapata, Col. Centro, C. P. 35290
Tel. (01) 872 7610130
Canadian Embassy in Mexico
Schiller No. 529 Col. Polanco, C. P. 11560, México D. F.
Tel. 52 5557247900
Fax. 52 55 5724 7983