Mexico: Excellon and Government of Durango Intimidate and Pressure Communal Landowners to End Peaceful Protest of La Platosa Mine

ProDESC (Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales)

Landowners demand respect for their human rights

(Mexico City) On July 12, representatives of the Ejido La Sierrita (communal landowning structure), the non-governmental organization Proyecto de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales, A.C. (ProDESC), and other human rights organizations held a press conference to present the dire situation of a blockade of the La Platosa mine. The representatives also gave reports regarding intimidation against communal landowners on behalf of the Canadian mining company Excellon Resources, Inc. and the Durango government.

On July 11, 2012, Excellon Resources, Inc. submitted a press release in which it threatened members of the Ejido and ProDESC with criminal and judicial actions for the peaceful protest that they have sustained since July 8. Since that date, more than 70 community members from the Ejido have sustained a blockade at the entrance of the mine in Tlahualilo, Durango.

The company's press release also stated that, as a result of the company's conversations with the state and federal government, these governments will intervene in the conflict in the next 24 to 48 hours. “This statement represents a grave threat to the physical integrity and safety of the landowners that are just trying to peacefully demand compliance with their human rights against a transnational company,” said Alejandra Ancheita, executive director of ProDESC.

“The sub-secretary of government of Durango, Luis Francisco Arroyo, arrived at the protest on Wednesday. He approached me threateningly, attempted to convince the Ejido that they should not trust ProDESC as their advisors. He also touched my arm without my permission and raised his voice with me,” said Ms. Ancheita.

“The Sub-secretary also attempted to turn mine workers against the ejido by telling the workers that it was the Ejido's fault that the company would not pay the workers their salary,” said Mr. David Espinoza, President of the General Assembly of the Ejido La Sierrita.

Since 2004, the mining company Excellon de México, subsidiary of Excellon Resources, Inc., has maintained a presence in Tlahualilo and Mapimi, Durango. In 2008, after three months of conflict between the company and the Ejido, the two parties signed a new land rental contract which included important progress for both parties. The contract also established clauses in which the company was obligated to contribute to development projects for the Ejido that would better the quality of life of the community.

Nonetheless, in the last four years, the company has failed to comply, and has even violated, the clauses of this agreement. The Ejido members have tried to sit with company representatives and review the violations of the land rental contract to resolve the conflict since November of 2011 without success.

“Ejido members were forced to initiate this protest after almost eight months of attempts to dialogue with Excellon to resolve several non-compliance and violations of the land rental agreement that it signed with us in 2008,” said Daniel Pacheco, Ejido member. “It is unfortunate that a company that earned 30 million dollars in gross profit in one year, largely from the La Platosa mine, can't make the minimal commitment to support development of our community,” he added.

The Ejido General Assembly, after exhausting its efforts at dialogue and due to the unwillingness of the company to work together, decided to exercise its legitimate right to peacefully protest the company's La Platosa operations. The Ejido hopes that the company will comply with the clauses of the land rental agreement including its obligation to build a water treatment plant for water expelled from the mine, the granting of concessions for transportation of minerals and food services in the mine, just rental payments, among others.

“The blockade has taken place under the leadership of the Ejido and without the coordination of the National Union of Mining, Metallurgic, and Similar Workers of the Mexican Republic (SNTMMSSRM for its initials in Spanish). Nonetheless, the SNTMMSSRM has supported our efforts in important ways and we consider them strategic allies in our struggle to demand respect from the company,” said Mr. Espinoza.

The Ejido members request Excellon management to provide a quick and satisfactory solution to the demands of the Ejido through dialogue and in a framework of respect, justice, and equity. At the same time, the Ejido members urge the Durango government to guarantee respect of their human rights and act in an impartial manner in the dispute.


Darío Maldonado, ProDESC (Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales), +55-5212-2230, +55-5212-2229, +55-3334-6045, dario(at)