The Ejido Carrizalillo in Guerrero, Mexico announced an indefinite shut down of Goldcorp's Los Filos mine operations on the morning of Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 after talks broke down over renewal of the company's land use contract.
Goldcorp has claimed that it is "expeditiously" working toward a solution. But a recent letter from the Ejido's negotiating team indicates otherwise.
On Thursday, April 9th, the negotiating team for the Ejido Carrizalillo in Guerrero, Mexico, published a response to Goldcorp’s Vice President for Mexican Operations, Horacio Bruna.
The team chastises the company directors in Mexico for treating them with disrespect and their proposal with contempt. They delivered their proposal on Monday April 6th via a low ranking company official. “We have given our lands and even our lives to your company, for which WE DESERVE dignified and respectful treatment,” they state.
Signed by six community authorities, the letter outlines enormous asymmetries between what the company reaps in profits from the Ejido’s lands compared to the modest rent it is willing to negotiate. As a percentage of the company’s gold production at Los Filos, the landowners calculate the amount they are asking for at 1.26%: “This is the big economic effort that we are requesting of you - combined with other clauses in our proposal that are not mentioned here – for which you have shown us disdain and arrogance.”
The Vice President’s new offer, they say, is a setback from what they and local company officials had arrived at early during the week of March 31st, at which time the Ejido states they had almost reached a new agreement. “We don’t understand how it is that being so close to a solution from day one, that this took on other dimensions,” reads the letter.
They reject company accusations that they are preventing other communities from going to work or that they are otherwise acting irresponsibility while they camp out on their lands: “Mr. Bruna, it is important that you come and see what is really going on, that you come and talk with your emergency team that is working in coordination with us in the area of the leach pad, to avoid any mishap with the toxins that are there; that you come and talk with the diverse police groups whom we have asked to cordially accompany us in each inspection that we make, so that you can see that we are not undertaking inappropriate or incorrect actions. Do not make us out to be what we’re not.”
The letter continues, “It would appear that you are betting on or hoping for a confrontation between third parties. But we are neither stupid, nor are we crazy to fight with our neighbours and friends, least of all with the workers and the politicians and our state government, who it is worth mentioning have come to our encampment to investigate what’s happening, leaving here assured that our struggle is not violating the rights of others.”
The negotiating team vociferously rejects assertions that spills on site as a result of coming rains – or any other natural disaster – would be their responsibility rather than the company’s.
No mishaps or confrontations have been reported to date as a result of the Ejido Carrizalillo’s land reclamation. On the contrary, the Ejido reports having received tremendous local, regional, national and international solidarity. According to the Ejido, this demonstrates that, “We are not alone, we are not isolated, nor are we eager to accept hand-outs.” Furthermore, they say, “Our struggle is dignified, just and that we will not allow our rights to be violated.”
“We express our complete disagreement with you undertaking any operations of any sort on our territory until you decide whether to continue negotiating or to close your business. Consider the social, political, environmental and financial costs, but do your math well. Review the political and media expense that you and we will have for an absurd, prolonged and nonsensical struggle, given the huge margin of profits that you gain from our land and the ridiculous margin that we are trying to earn from it.”
The letter concludes with a final call, asking the Vice President to directly handle negotiations. If Mr. Bruna does not assume responsibility for the talks, the negotiating team of the Ejido says they will bring their proposal to company officials in Canada, while continuing to halt mine operations on their lands.
“Your local representatives miscalculated, believing that the community would not close down the mine operations. Once again, however, we are showing them that they were wrong. The current strike has engaged the whole community and we have received evidence of regional support, something that didn’t even happen during the 83 day shut down in 2007.”
The Los Filos mine stopped operating on the morning of Tuesday, April 1st, 2014.
A scan of the letter and our own English translation of the letter are attached.
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