Early last week, over thirty organizations and 160 individuals sent a letter to Mexican authorities, the Canadian Embassy in Mexico and the President of Canadian mining company Almaden Minerals expressing concern about the murder of Manuel Gaspar Rodríguez and threats of criminalization and violence against Indigenous communities in the Sierra Norte de Puebla who are fighting mining and hydroelectric projects. Before his murder, Manuel Gaspar was one of eight people facing charges pressed by the national electrical utility company (CFE) for participating in the blockade of a major new transmission line. He was also on the implementation committee for the Holistic Land Use Plan of Cuetzalán, which was created eight years ago in order to protect the area from large-scale extractive projects.
The Sierra Norte de Puebla is a predominantly Maseual-Nahuat and Tutunaku-Totonaco Indigenous region located immediately north of the city of Puebla, Mexico. These communities are facing the growing threat of extractive projects given the extensive concessions the Mexican state has granted in their territories. Ten hydroelectric projects are planned for the three main river watersheds of the region - the Apulco, Zempoala and Ajajalpan. Oil and gas concessions are present in fifteen municipalities of the area. More than 160,000 hectares of this territory are now under mining concessions with large-scale gold mining projects owned by Mexico's Frisco company and Canada's Vancouver-based Almaden Minerals.