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Date: Tue, 8 May 2007 20:03:51 -0500
Subject: [Ciepac-i] Chiapas Today 535: Canadian Mining in Mexico: Made in
        Canada Violence

"Chiapas Today" Bulletin No. 535

Mandeep Dhillon - 07-May-2007 -  num.535
No One is Illegal y Justicia for Migrant Workers, Coast Salish territories 
(Vancouver, Canada)

The history of mining in Mexico is a long one. The riches of the Mexican 
sub-soil were a major motivation for Spanish colonizers and the mining industry 
is often accorded an important place in events leading to the Mexican 
Revolution; the 1906 bloody repression of striking miners working for U.S. 
Cananean Consolidated Copper in Sonora is often cited as a precursor to current 
labor struggles in Mexico. The authors of the Mexican Revolution sought to make 
a reality of the ideal that those who work the land should have control over 
it. In order to protect its land from foreign interests, Article 27 of the 1917 
Mexican Constitution dictated that the land, the subsoil and its riches were 
all property of the Mexican State. More importantly, Article 27 recognized the 
lasting collective right of communities to land through the "ejido" system and 
limited private land ownership.

As in the colonization of Indigenous lands elsewhere, mining was an activity of 
primary economic importance to colonizing forces and a major cause of injury, 
death, land destruction and impoverishment for Indigenous communities. Not much 
has changed in this imbalance today. And Canadian mining corporations - with 
wealth created from the historic (and ongoing) take-over and exploitation of 
Indigenous territory in Canada - are at the lead of these colonizing forces in 
present day Mexico.

Important changes to the Mexican Constitution in anticipation of the North 
American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) resulted in the facilitation of land 
privatization and the entry of foreign corporations. One such change was the 
modification of Article 27, allowing for the sale of "ejido" land to private 
owners - government or third parties including foreign multi-nationals. Another 
was the Mining Law of 1992 which together with the Law on Foreign Investment 
allowed for 100% foreign investment in exploration and production. Article 6 of 
this Mining Law also stipulates that the exploration and exploitation of 
minerals will have priority over any other use of the land, such as agriculture 
or housing. The modifications also allowed for the participation of the private 
sector in the production of some minerals previously reserved to the government 
including coal and iron.

Though the Canadian corporate world is often seen as a secondary beneficiary of 
aggressive American corporate expansion - the reality of the mining industry 
certainly turns this myth onto its head. And the picture of mining activities 
in Mexico is a prime example.

The Scope of the Canadian Mining Industry

Canadian mining corporations lead the global mining industry. The Canadian 
industry ranks first in the global production of zinc, uranium, nickel and 
potash; second in sulphur, asbestos, aluminium and cadmium; third in copper and 
platinum group metals; fourth in gold; and fifth in lead. It has interests in 
over 8,300 properties worldwide - 3,400 of which are in 100 foreign countries. 
In Latin America and the Caribbean, which has been identified as the main 
current geographical target for mineral exploration, Canadian mining 
corporations represent the largest percentage of foreign mining companies - 
with interests in more than 1,200 properties. In 1998, over $4.5 billion USD 
were raised by Canadian mining companies through domestic and foreign projects 
which represented 51% of the world's mine capital.

Canadian Corporate Interest &Mining in Mexico

The politics of neo-liberalism in Mexico, which gained important ground in the 
1980s and took flight with the implementation of NAFTA, have had a tremendous 
impact on the presence of Canadian corporate interests in Mexico. Since NAFTA, 
bilateral trade between the two nations increased about 300%. According to the 
report, Opening Doors to the World: Canada's International Market Priorities - 
2006, "Over 1,500 Canadian companies have a presence in Mexico, and a further 
3,100 are currently working on their first sales in Mexico." Canada is Mexico's 
fifth largest investor. Some of Canada's largest corporations which have a 
significant presence in Mexico include Scotiabank, TransAlta, Transcontinental, 
Magna International, Palliser, Presion Drilling, Fairmont and Four Seasons 

In a 2005 address, the Canadian Ambassador to Mexico, Gaetan Lavertu noted that 
"well over half of the foreign mining concessions issued in Mexico are 
registered to Canadian companies. The bulk of these investments are from 
British Columbia-Mexico recognizes Canada's leadership and technological 
advantages in the minerals and mining equipment business".

The importance of Mexico to Canada's mining industry is confirmed by a 2004 
report entitled "Current Mexican-Canadian Relations in the Mining Sector" by 
Cecilia Costero. The report describes Mexico as almost entirely mineralized 
with an estimate of 85% of mineral reserves yet untouched. This despite the 
10,380 mines which have already been exploited. After the manufacturing 
industry, mining is the second largest Canadian capital interest in Mexico. In 
2000, this interest was to the tune of over $150 million USD. In December 2001, 
225 Canadian mining corporations were operating in Mexico (over 40% of the 
foreign investment), 209 of which owned over 50% of the capital in their 
projects. In the same year, Canada led foreign nations in terms of direct 
investment in the Mexican mining industry. Further, Mexico imports 75% of its 
machinery used for mining and 4.4% of its total market needs from Canada.

Made In Canada: Violence &Displacement

The devastation and violence perpetrated by Canadian mining corporations has 
been documented clearly with links to human rights violations in Guatemala, 
Peru, Romania, the Philippines, Honduras, Ecuador, Bolivia, Ghana, Suriname, 
the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea, Tanzania, India, Indonesia, 
Zambia and Sudan. Though the criticism of Canadian mining corporations taking 
advantage of so-called weak human rights protection in the South is made often 
enough, significantly less is said about the role of the same corporations in 
the destruction and displacement of Indigenous communities within Canadian 
borders. In Saskatchewan, on Deline Dene territory, over 1.7 million tons of 
radioactive waste and tailings were dumped in and around Great Bear Lake during 
the 1940s and 50s, contaminating all food sources of the Dene People. The 
community lost 50 men due to radiation effects. Since 1990, 27% of the 609 
First Nations reserves in Canada have undergone some level of e!
 xploration activity for non-metallic minerals.

In British Columbia, where over 97% of the land is yet unceded First Nations 
land according to Canadian and International law, the British Columbia Mining 
Plan of 2005 designated over 85% of the province's land "open to exploration" 
even setting up an online system for staking mineral claims. (In the right-wing 
Canadian think tank The Fraser Institute's 2005/06 survey, mining corporation 
executives and representatives ranked B.C. 2nd for "uncertainty about native 
land claims" being a deterrent to mining investment; only Venezuela was ranked 
higher.) Mining is a $5 billion industry in B.C. with a multitude of Canada's 
mining corporations based in Vancouver. In a review of a non-exhaustive list of 
Canadian mining companies operating in Mexico, over 60 of them locate their 
head-quarters in Vancouver.

Selling Mining Projects

The website of Endeavour Silver, one of those Vancouver based corporations, 
includes an industry article which attempts to answer the question, "Why 
Mexico?" The piece says that "Mexico is the world's premier silver exploration 
and mining country for several reasons-mining is an integral part of national 
and local economies-this takes on increasing importance as migration from rural 
areas to cities increases due to lack of rural employment opportunities: mines 
create economic anchors wherever they are found, which mitigates this effect 
locally and allows rural residents to maintain well-paid, dignified and 
productive occupations."

In actual fact, reviews of Mexican neo-liberal policies since the 1980s 
including NAFTA have concluded that land privatization for corporate use 
including mining projects has resulted in an exponential increase in 
displacement and migration. Since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, over 15 
million Mexicans have been displaced from their lands. The myth that mining is 
a necessary activity for economic development has been central to the industry. 
Most employment created by mining projects for local residents is short term 
and low-paid. Furthermore, mining companies receive heavy government subsidies 
in most countries, leave virtual ghost-towns after their projects end and leave 
local governments to dispose of wastes. The environmental price and the long 
term cost to local communities are never calculated. In fact, the article goes 
on to state that "Mexico has strong environmental laws and a commitment to 
uphold them, but effective obstructionist environmental organizations are f!
 ew". As in the community of Cerro de San Pedro, Mexico which has been battling 
Toronto-based Metallica Resources Inc. for over 10 years, communities pay with 
the loss of their land, homes, health and lives.

"Culturally," writes the author, "Mexicans are friendly towards mining at all 
levels. This means-developers can expect to be welcomed when they enter an stark contrast to their reception in many other parts of the world." 
Currently in Mexico, public audiences are not required by law prior to granting 
mining concessions. Local communities are often the last to find out about 
mining projects and are hardly ever informed about the projected effects of 
mining operations on their land and their health. This phenomenon is not 
limited to Mexico. Communities affected by mining in Canada, which is often 
attributed respect for consultation processes, have often related experiences 
of false consultation processes or deals made between corporations and 
so-called community leaders without community involvement. Such has been the 
case with Montreal based Niocan Inc. which has been attempting to open a 
Niobium mine on unceded Mohawk territory next to the community of Kanehsatake.!
  Residents of Kanehsatake received notice of the consultation meetings only 
days prior and were shut out of negotiations carried out with Niocan by a 
Canadian government backed band-council leader that the community had attempted 
to oust multiple times.

These myths are not supported solely by mining corporations. The Canadian 
government has been an active player in pushing forward Canadian mining 
projects in foreign countries, including Mexico, through its embassy 
representatives and trade councils. This type of Canadian government pressure 
continues even when mining projects result in the murders of opposing local 
residents such as occurred during the opposition to Vancouver-based Glamis 
Gold's Marlin mine in Guatemala. Along these lines, Kenneth Cook, the Canadian 
ambassador to Guatemala, has recently been denounced for carrying out a 
disinformation campaign seeking to discredit a documentary film on the recent 
violent eviction of the Maya Q'eqchi' Indigenous communities near El Estor, 
carried out on request by another Vancouver-based corporation, Skye Resources(1)

>From B.C. to Oaxaca

Another reason given for Mexico being a prime location for silver exploitation 
on Endeavour's website is that "politically, Mexico is the most stable country 
in Latin America". Another industry report states that, "political and 
financial stability, legal security for investors-are all positive factors 
impacting Mexico`s mining industry today. However, one must also consider the 
highly unionized nature of its mining and metallurgical workers-and possible 
socio-economic issues generated by low wages and under-employment as possible 
road blocks to the continued prosperity of the industry".

Weakened workers' rights and the silencing of social movements are necessary 
pre-cursors to the flourishing of mining projects in Mexico and elsewhere. 
Industry reports such as this one are clear about it. The "political stability" 
that corporate and Canadian government reports allude to is certainly not 
social stability but rather the heavy-handed control of movements, the 
militarization of the country-side and the displacement of local communities 
that is currently being seen in Mexico and which allows for the implementation 
and protection of corporate investment.

The world has recently become witness to Oaxaca's social movement that is 
calling for an end to years of impoverishment through neo-liberal policies, 
displacement of Indigenous communities and government violence. The state 
violence against this movement has recently increased to unprecedented levels. 
Oaxaca, like the rest of Mexico's south is rich in natural resources that have 
been the target of foreign corporations for years. Vancouver based Continuum 
Resources already has ten projects in Oaxaca at various stages, covering over 
70, 000 hectares of land and "continuing to consolidate larger land positions". 
At the end of September, Vancouver based Chesapeake Gold Corp announced it had 
optioned 70% of its two Oaxaca projects to Vancouver's Pinnacle Mines. 
+++Horseshoe Gold Mining Inc., also based in Vancouver, acquired 60% interest 
in Almaden's Fuego prospect located in Oaxaca and Halifax's Linear Gold Corp 
also owns an active project in the state. Neighbouring Chiapas, ano!
 ther of Mexico's most impoverished and most militarized states is also the 
target of Canadian mining projects. From 2003 to 2006, the federal government 
has granted a total of 72 mining concessions in Chiapas, representing a total 
of 727,435 hectares. More than 55% (419,337 hectares) of these lands conceded 
without any information or consultation with local communities lies in the 
hands of two Canadian mining corporations alone: Linear Gold Corp and Fronteer 
Development Group.

Canadian mining corporations in Oaxaca and Chiapas are not just witnesses to 
the violence that is occurring there but rely on that violence to protect their 
profits. Businesses and governments have identified one of NAFTA's 
short-comings as the failure of its benefits reaching Mexico's southern states 
rather than an increase in poverty and inequality caused by NAFTA itself. In 
more recent business reports and talks between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico 
focused on the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), the opening up of 
Mexico's energy resources - in particular to Canadian corporations - has been 
accorded prime importance. (So has the further development of energy sources in 
Canada.) According to the Independent Task Force on the Future of North 
America, which has been identified as one of the major business think-tanks 
behind the SPP, "improvements in human capital and physical infrastructure in 
Mexico, particularly in the center and south of the country, would knit th!
 ese regions more firmly into the North American economy and are in the 
economic and security interest of all three countries". It comes as no surprise 
that the same corporate and government bodies are calling for expansions of 
Canada's exploitative guest-worker program which they cite as an example of 
bi-lateral success. For Canadian and Mexican governments and business, such 
guest-worker programs are a win-win situation as they provide a means to 
control forced migration caused by corporate and military displacement while 
reaping the economic benefits of a moveable, exploitable labor force in Canada 
and through remittances sent to Mexico. According to a Mexican government 
official who ran the program for two years in one of the southern states, these 
programs also allow for the Mexican government to weaken social movement 
building by intermittently removing thousands of its poorest citizens. Canadian 
complicity in increasing displacement both at home and in Mexico is to be!

The perception of Canada as the U.S.' junior partner often comes with a lack of 
clarity on Canadian responsibility in the history of violence and displacement 
within and beyond its national borders. Often, language around Canada-based 
solidarity work with the struggles of Indigenous communities, campesino and 
labor movements in Mexico distorts the responsibility of Canadian governmental 
and corporate players in the violence which has engendered those movements. 
Canadian mining corporations are but one example of how Canadians are complicit 
beyond just silence on the issues but through a very active process. The 
reality of mining also offers a concrete point of solidarity between those who 
have been displaced from the South and Indigenous communities in "Canada". 
Allies in Canada also cannot limit solidarity work to pointing fingers at a 
"corrupt Mexican government" or U.S. imperialist drive. To get to the roots of 
this displacement, there is a need to first look inwards at w!
 hat is being perpetrated against Indigenous communities here and how the 
authors of that violence are also dictating crimes against the people of 
Oaxaca, Chiapas and other parts of Mexico.

On occupied Coast Salish land, here in Vancouver, these relationships visibly 
come full circle. As development for the 2010 Olympics causes the destruction 
of Indigenous land, the gentrification of the Down Town East Side and the 
repression of First Nations peoples both outside and inside the city, many of 
the unsafe, slave-wage construction jobs are being filled by Mexican men who 
are coming from impoverished communities that have similarly been repressed in 
the name of development. In the background stand the tall office buildings of 
West Vancouver that house the majority of its mining and "development" 

Non-exhaustive list of Canadian Mining Corporations Currently Operating in 
Mexico (Many of these companies operate through subsidiaries.)

Company (Headquarters): States with presence
Alamos Gold (Toronto): Sonora
Aquiline Resources (Vancouver): Sonora
Aurcana Corporation (Vancouver): Queretaro
Avino Silver and Gold Mines Ltd. (Vancouver): Durango
Baja Mining Corp. (Vancouver): Baja Peninsula
Bralorne Gold Mines Ltd. (Vancouver): Durango
Canasil (Vancouver): Durango, Sinaloa, Zacatecas
Canplats Resources Corporation (Vancouver): Durango, Chihuahua
Capstone Gold Corp. (Vancouver): Zacatecas
Cardero Resource Group (Vancouver): Baja California,
CDG Investments Inc. (Calgary): Sinaloa
Chesapeake (Vancouver): Oaxaca, Sonora, Durango, Sinaloa, Chihuahua
Columbia Metals Corporation Ltd. (Toronto): Sonora
Comaplex Minerals Corp. (Calgary): Mexico State
Coniagas Resources (Toronto): Zacatecas
Continuum Resources Ltd. (Vancouver): Oaxaca
Copper Ridge Explorations Inc. (Vancouver): Sonora
Corex Gold Corporation (Vancouver): Zacatecas
Cream Minerals Ltd. (Vancouver): Nayarit
Diadem Resources (Toronto): Zacatecas
ECU Silver Mining (Rouyn-Noranda): Durango
Endeavour Silver (Vancouver): Durango
Energold Drilling Corp [Impact Silver Corp.] (Vancouver): Mexico State
Evolving Gold Corp. (Vancouver): currently exploring acquisitions in Mexico
Esperanza Silver Corp. (Vancouver): Morelos
Excellon Resources (Toronto): Durango
Exmin Resources Inc. (Vancouver): Chihuahua
Dundarave Resources Inc. (Vancouver): Chihuahua
Farallon Resources Ltd. [Hunter Dickinson] (Vancouver): Guerrero
Firesteel Resources (Vancouver): Durango
First Majestic Silver Corp. (Vancouver): Jalisco, Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas
Fording Canadian Coal Trust [NYCO] (Calgary): Sonora
Formation Capital Corporation (Vancouver): Tamaulipas
Fronteer Development Group (Vancouver): Jalisco, Chiapas
Frontera Copper Corporation (Toronto): Sonora
Gammon Lake Resources (Halifax): Chihuahua, Guanajuato
Genco Resources (Vancouver): Mexico State
Goldcorp Inc. (Vancouver): Sinaloa, Durango, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Zacatecas
Gold-Ore Resources Ltd. (Vancouver): Sinaloa
Golden Goliath Resources (Vancouver): Chihuahua
Grandcru Resources (Vancouver): Sinaloa
Grayd Resource Corporation (Vancouver): Sonora
Great Panther Resources Ltd. (Vancouver): Durango, Guanajuato, Chihuahua
Grid Capital Corporation (Vancouver): Chihuahua
Hawkeye Gold and Diamonds (Vancouver): Nayarit
Horseshoe Gold Mining (Vancouver): Oaxaca
Iamgold Corporation -royalties- (Toronto): Chihuahua
Iciena Ventures (Vancouver): Sonora
Impact Silver Corp. (Vancouver): Zacatecas
International Croesus Ltd. (Vancouver): Jalisco
Intrepid Mines (Toronto): Sonora
Kimber Resources (Vancouver): Chihuahua
Linear Gold Corp (Halifax): Chiapas, Oaxaca
Macmillan Gold (Toronto): Durango, Sinaloa, Zacatecas, Jalisco, Nayarit
MAG Silver Corp (Vancouver): Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Durango
Minefinders (Vancouver): Chihuahua, Sonora
Morgain Minerals Inc. (Vancouver): Durango, Sonora
Metallica Resources Inc. (Toronto): San Luis Potosi
Mexoro Minerals Ltd. (Vancouver): Chihuahua
Northair Group (Vancouver): Durango, Sinaloa
Northwestern Mineral Ventures (Toronto): Durango
Oromex Resources (Vancouver): Durango
Orko Silver Corp. (Vancouver): Durango
Pacific Comox Resources (Toronto): Sonora
Palmarejo Silver and Gold (Longueuil): Chihuahua
Pan American Silver (Vancouver): Sonora
Pinnacle Mines Ltd. (Vancouver): Mexico State, Oaxaca
Quaterra (Vancouver): Durango, Zacatecas
Rome Resources Ltd. (Vancouver): Sonora
Ross River Minerals (Vancouver): Sinaloa
Roxwell Gold Mines (Vancouver): Sinaloa
Santoy Resources Ltd. (Vancouver): Sinaloa
Scorpio Mining Corporation (Vancouver): Sinaloa
Silver Crest Mines (Vancouver): Sonora
Silver Standard Resources (Vancouver): Durango, Mexico
Soho Resources Group (Vancouver): Durango
Sonora Gold Corp (Vancouver): Sonora
Sparton Resources (Toronto): Sinaloa, Sonora
Starcore International Ventures (Vancouver): Puebla
Stingray Resources (Toronto): Chihuahua
Southern Silver Exploration (Vancouver): Jalisco, Chihuahua
Stroud Resources (Toronto): Chihuahua
Teck Cominco Ltd. (Vancouver): Guerrero, Oaxaca, Chiapas
Terra Novo Gold Corp. (Vancouver): Michoacan
Tumi Resources (Vancouver): Chihuahua, Sonora
Tyler Resources (Calgary): Chihuahua
UC Resources (Vancouver): Durango, Nayarit
Valdez Gold (Toronto): Chihuahua
War Eagle Mining Company (Vancouver): Chihuahua
West Timmins Mining Corp. (Vancouver): Sinaloa, Chihuahua
Zaruma Resources Inc. (Toronto): Sonora

1. To watch the video of the eviction of the communities near El Estor, you can 
download it from the Rights Action website in MOV format (158 Mb):
or watch it from Internet at YouTube:
or in Google Videos:

Written with the help of: Antoine Libert Amico


The Center for Economic and Political Investigations of Community Action
(Civil Association)CIEPAC A.C.,
is a member of the Movement for Democracy and Life (MDV) of Chiapas,
the Mexican Network of Action Against Free Trade (RMALC),
Convergence of Movements of the Peoples of the Americas (COMPA ),
Network for Peace in Chiapas, Week for Biological and Cultural Diversity
the International Forum "The People Before Globalization",
Alternatives to the PPP
and of the Mexican Alliance for Self-Determination (AMAP) that is the
Mexican network against the Puebla Panama Plan.
CIEPAC is a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Economic
<> and the Ecumenical
Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA)

Note: If you use this information, cite the source and our email address.
We are grateful to the persons and institutions who have given us their
comments on these Bulletins.

CIEPAC, A.C. is a non-government and non-profit organization,
and your support is necessary for us to be able to
continue offering you this news and analysis service.
If you would like to contribute, in any amount,
we would infinitely appreciate your remittance to the bank account in
the name of:

Bank: Banamex
Account number: 7049672
Sucursal 386
San Cristo'bal de las Casas, Chiapas, Me'xico.
You will also need to use an ABA number:  BNMXMXMM

Thank you!

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