Government Documents Reveal Canadian Embassy Backed Mining Abuses in Mexico

United Steelworkers – MiningWatch Canada

A report based on internal documents obtained from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) concludes that Canadian diplomats in Mexico were complicit in Toronto-based Excellon Resources Inc.’s efforts to avoid redressing a violated land use contract and poor working conditions, and supported repression against a peaceful protest.

The report from MiningWatch Canada and the United Steelworkers, Unearthing Canadian Complicity: Excellon Resources, the Canadian Embassy and the Violation of Land and Labour Rights in Durango, Mexico, is based on a careful review of nearly 250 pages obtained from DFATD during a period of heightened conflict and repression from July to November 2012.

At this time, landowners from the Ejido La Sierrita and workers from Local 309 of the National Miners Union at Excellon’s La Platosa mine undertook a peaceful protest for several months, after filing two formal complaints in Canada alleging serious land and labour rights violations without result.

Despite full knowledge of these complaints and Excellon’s refusal to engage in dialogue to address them, the Canadian Embassy planned to share information with Excellon that was gathered from community members and their legal counsel without their consent, while helping the company forge high level connections that led to violent repression against the protest.

“Nowhere in the internal communication reviewed for this study did we find evidence of Canada’s oft-stated policy that it encourages Canadian mining companies to act responsibly and to respect international standards. The Canadian Embassy’s one-sided support for Excellon is a blatant example of Canadian government promotion of corporate interests at the expense of workers and communities,” remarked Ken Neumann, Canadian National Director for the United Steelworkers.

Forewarned that Mexican police, army, and government officials were meeting to plan to evict the protest in response to the Embassy and company lobby, one trade commissioner wished the company well, just the night before police and army moved in on the protest camp. 

“The Embassy’s apparent disregard for the safety of peaceful protestors in a country where human rights activists, journalists, and community leaders are being injured and killed far too often is appalling. These findings confirm our fears that the Canadian government’s policy to harness its whole diplomatic corps to serve private interests abroad – something it calls “economic diplomacy” and announced in its Global Markets Action Plan – is bound to contribute to further harm,” said Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator for MiningWatch Canada. 

The disdain and repression that the Ejido La Sierrita members experienced in 2012 ended Excellon’s welcome in their community. They have since taken action to rescind their contract with Excellon and thereby bring their relationship with the company to an end.

The report is available here: Unearthing Canadian Complicity: Excellon Resources, the Canadian Embassy and the Violation of Land and Labour Rights in Durango, Mexico

The Access to Information documents are available on Scribd.


  • Jen Moore, Latin America Program Coordinator, MiningWatch Canada, [email protected], (613) 569-3439
  • Bob Gallagher, United Steelworkers, (416) 544-5966 or (416) 434-2221 mobile
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