La Luz Silver Project, Mexico
La Luz Silver Project is owned by First Majestic Silver Corp. through the Mexican company Real de Bonanza SA. de CV. The property was acquired by First Majestic Silver Corp. in 2009 and consists of 22 mining concessions covering 6,327 hectares in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. However, around 70% of the territory under concession is within Wirikuta, an important sacred site for the Wixarika people[i]. In 1998 Wirikuta was included in UNESCO’s World Network of Sacred Sites and in 1991 it was declared a Historic and Cultural Heritage site by the state of San Luis Potosi[ii]. In 2010, the Wixarika people and different civil associations made public their opposition to the project[iii]. They state that Project La Luz represents a threat to the preservation of Wixarika culture and violates several national and international laws and covenants including convention No.169 of the International Labour Organization which was ratified by the Mexican senate. Furthermore, they argue that the mining project threats Wirikuta’s fragile ecosystem which includes several endangered fauna species and 25 endangered cacti species, many of which are endemic to the area[iv].
On May 2011, the Wixarika People delivered a letter to Mexican president Felipe Calderon and to First Majestic corporation shareholders demanding the cancelation of the project[v]. The same month Wixarika delegates travelled to New York to attend United Nations’ permanent forum on indigenous issues and to Vancouver to protest against La Luz project at First Majestic Corporation’s Annual General Meeting[vi]. Various manifestations and cultural events have been organized to protest against mining projects in Wirikuta and an open letter was written to Canadian Embassador in Mexico requesting the attention of Canadian government to mining activities in Sierra de Catorce[vii][viii].
On February 2012, the Federal Judicial Power of Mexico temporarily suspended La Luz Silver Project due to violation of convention No.169 of the International Labour Organization[ix]. On April, a forum was organized in the National Senate to discuss indigenous rights and the case of Wirikuta[x].
Currently, the community of Real de Catorce, the closest town to Wirikuta, is divided between those who oppose the project and those who are in favor of it. The latter argue that the mine would bring economic prosperity to the area, thus offering those who are facing conditions of extreme poverty an alternative to emigration[xi]. On May 26, a music festival in the Foro Sol of Mexico City was organized in order to collect funds for sustainable development projects that might provide alternatives to mining in the area of Wirikuta[xii].
[i] Angelica Enciso, “Otorgó el gobierno 22 concesiones mineras en Wirikuta, sitio sagrado”, La Jornada, November 21, 2011. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/11/21/sociedad/039n1soc
[ii] Tracy L. Barnett, “Mensaje de los dioses: unirse para defender la cuna del sol”, La Jornada del Campo, March 17, 2012. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/03/17/cam-dioses.html
[iii] “Declaration in Defense of Wirikuta”, Mining Watch Canada, October 13, 2010.http://www.miningwatch.ca/article/declaration-defence-wirikuta
[iv] “Para entender Wirikuta”, last modified February 4, 2012. http://frenteendefensadewirikuta.org/wirikuta/?p=1814
[v] “Wixárika people deliver letter to Mexican President Calderón and shareholders of First Majestic Silver”, Mining Watch Canada, May 20, 2011. http://www.miningwatch.ca/article/wix-rika-people-deliver-letter-mexican-president-calder-n-and-shareholders-first-majestic
[vi] Tracy L. Barnett, “Mensaje de los dioses: unirse para defender la cuna del sol”, La Jornada del Campo, March 17, 2012. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/03/17/cam-dioses.html
[vii] Angelica Enciso L., “Marchan huicholes en el DF en defensa de las tierras sagradas de Wirikuta”, La Jornada, Octobre 28, 2011. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2011/10/28/sociedad/045n1soc
[viii] Carlos Garcia and Juan Carlos Partida, “Piden a embajadora de Canadá interceder para evitar la destrucción de Wirikuta”, La Jornada, February 17, 2012. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/02/17/estados/037n1est
[ix] Angelica Enciso L., “Ordenan a mineras suspender actividades en la zona sagrada Huichol de Wirikuta”, La Jornada, Febrero 28, 2012. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/02/28/sociedad/041n1soc
[x] Angelica Enciso L., “Llaman a defender Wirikuta”, La Jornada, April 19, 2012. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/04/19/sociedad/045n3soc
[xi] Esquire, “Huicholes en Pie de Guerra”, Vanguardia, September 22, 2011. http://www.vanguardia.com.mx/huicholesenpiedeguerra-1103477.html
[xii] Jose Caballero, “Wirikuta Fest, unión de música y cultura en defensa del sitio sagrado”, La Jornada, May 4 2012. http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2012/05/04/espectaculos/a10n1esp