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La Sierrita members detained two days before hearing against Excellon

13 November, 2013IndustriALL has called for urgent solidarity action to support members of Local 309 of the National Miners’ Union and members of the La Sierrita community two days before the Canadian mining company Excellon is due to appear before an Agrarian Tribunal.

The national security forces have arbitrarily detained Omar Pacheco, Adolfo Gómez Chareo, Julio Orona, Luis Orona and Ricardo Calderón, all residents of the La Sierrita de Galeana community in Durango state and relatives of ejido (land cooperative) members. Moreover, two days previously, they detained another resident of the community, Héctor Pacheco, also a relative of an ejido member. With the exception of the last three named, these people are also members of Local 309 of the National Miners’ Union (SNTMMSSRM).

The La Sierrita ejido has been fighting to defend its land and natural resources from  Excellon de Mexico S. A. de C. V., a subsidiary of the Canadian company, Excellon Resources Inc., since 2004. PRODESC, a non-governmental organisation that works on important cases concerning the violation of economic, social and cultural rights, has been assisting the ejido since 2007 and workers at Excellon’s La Platosa mine since 2010.

Ejido members have been subjected to repeated harassment and this has intensified in recent months after the ejido decided to rescind its contract with Excellon. The contract allowed the company to temporarily occupy 1,100 hectares of the ejido but the cooperative says the company has failed to comply with the conditions set out in the contract. The presence of the army and the state police force has also increased recently. For example, army vehicles have parked outside the homes of certain ejido members and state police have patrolled the community, shining high power torches inside some homes.

IndustriALL supports PRODESC’s demands, reiterates its solidarity and calls on affiliates to write to the Mexican government (contact details in attached document).

The demands are:

1. Any charges made against the detainees should be immediately withdrawn because the people concerned have only been acting in legitimate and peaceful defence of their human rights and those of their families;

2. Those responsible for the actions outlined above should be investigated, identified and punished;

3. Members of the La Sierrita de Galeana ejido and PRODESC and their families should be offered protection and guarantees for their physical and psychological security and integrity, in accordance with their own wishes;

4. The human rights of La Sierrita de Galeana ejido and PRODESC members should be respected in accordance with the highest international standards and any kind of attack or abuse of power against them should be punished;

5. The federal government should launch a campaign to highlight the importance and legitimacy of the work done by human rights defenders to defend labour and land rights.