International Solidarity with Families of Murdered Mining Activists Opposed to MAG Silver in Chihuahua, México

The below-signed organizations express our indignation and extend our solidarity to the families of Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras of the community ejido Benito Juárez, in the municipality of Buenaventura, Chihuahua, Mexico who were gunned down on Monday October 22, 2012 as they drove their pick-up truck along a main highway to a medical appointment.

Both Ismael and Manuela were members of Barzón National, a smallholders farmers' movement, and the Mexican Network of Mining-Affected Communities (REMA). According to a statement from the Commission for Solidarity and the Defence of Human Rights (COSYDDHAC), Ismael had been denouncing a smear campaign and threats to his life for weeks. Just one week ago, El Barzon and other community groups submitted a complaint with the Secretary of Government (Mexican secretary of state) regarding these threats. The human rights group further reported that Ismael and his son were assaulted on October 13, 2012 by a group of employees paid by the El Cascabel mining company. In addition to being key activists opposed to the installation of a mine, they had also been denouncing the drilling of illegal wells in the Carmen river basin.

El Cascabel is a closely related entity to Vancouver-based mining company MAG Silver and a central player in the development of MAG Silver’s 100% owned Cinco de Mayo mine project. Many members of El Barzon and other movements in the municipality opposed the mine, given concerns about the heavy use of groundwater in this arid region.

In response to this tragedy various members of El Barzón have occupied the capital building, demanding Governor César Duarte provide answers to what they are calling a “state crime." Legislators of the PRI in Chihuahua have been criticized in the press for having a cozy relationship with Canadian mining companies operating in the state and acting favorably toward their interests over those of affected communities.

We ask that the Canadian Embassy urge Mexican authorities and El Cascabel/MAG Silver in Chihuahua to respect the rights of the ejido Benito Juárez and the organization El Barzón and to ensure that community members can oppose the mine operations without fear of violence or stigmatization for defending land and water supplies.  All levels of government should guarantee effective, democratic channels to address the demands of local residents. We also call upon the Mexican judicial system to carry out a full and impartial investigation into the murder of Ismael Solorio Urrutia and his wife Manuela Martha Solís Contreras so as to ensure that the material and intellectual authors of this crime are brought to justice.

To express your solidarity with the families of Ismael and Manuela send this letter or your own via e-mail to the Canadian Embassy mxico(@) copying the Investor Relations Manager at Mag Silver, Mr. Drew Martel dmartel(@) Please also copy the Secretaría de Gobernación, Dr. Alejandro Poiré Romero, secretario(@), the Ambassador of Mexico in Ottawa, Su Excelencia Francisco J. Barrio Terrazas, buzon(@), and the Minister of State of Consular and Foreign Affairs (Latin America), the Honourable Diane Ablonzcy, ablonzcy.d(@), calgary(@)

For more information contact Raul Burbano, Coordinator of Common Frontiers at burbano(@)

Signed by:

  • Aboriginal Justice Team of Christian Peacemaker Teams - Toronto Canada
  • Alianza Internacional de habitantes - México
  • Alianza Social Continental - Colombia
  • Bolivarian Circle "Louis Riel” - Toronto Canada
  • Common Frontiers- Canada
  • El Barzón - Chihuahua, México
  • Casa Salvador Allende - Toronto, Canada
  • International Festival of Poetry and Resistance - Canada
  • La asamblea veracruzana de iniciativas y defensa ambiental -  México
  • The Toronto Haiti Action Committee (THAC) - Toronto, Canada
  • The Latin American and Caribbean Solidarity Network (LACSN) - Canada
  • Mining Injustice Solidarity Network - Toronto, Canada
  • MiningWatch Canada - Ottawa, Canada
  • Movimiento Mexicano de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Rios (MAPDER) - México
  • Pobladores AC. - México
  • Red Colombiana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio - Colombia
  • Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA) - México
  • Toronto Forum on Cuba - Toronto Canada
  • Justicia for migrant workers - Toronto Canada