Thugs Destroy Landowners' Camp Outside Excellon Resources' Mexican
TORONTO, Oct. 26, 2012 /CNW/ - Mexican and Canadian civil society groups
are denouncing this week's violent attack on protesters at a mine owned
by Canada's Excellon Resources.
The peaceful demonstration by Mexican landowners against Excellon was
wiped out Wednesday when scores of thugs arrived aboard buses and
proceeded to destroy and burn the camp's installations.
Photos and witness accounts of the destruction have emerged in extensive
coverage of the incident by Mexican media, with estimates on the size
of the group of thugs ranging from 180 to 300 men.
"This is another disgraceful chapter in the story of community conflict
and injustice to local landowners that has characterized Excellon's
presence in Mexico," said Ken Neumann, Canadian National Director of
the United Steelworkers (USW).
"And it is another black eye for Canadian mining companies operating
abroad," Neumann added.
Men, women and children from a communal landowners group known as Ejido
La Sierrita have been peacefully and legally demonstrating outside
Excellon's La Platosa silver mine for three months. The landowners
accuse Excellon of breaking commitments to their community and refusing
to negotiate a resolution to the festering conflict.
Mexican media coverage of Wednesday's incident includes witness accounts
alleging the thugs who attacked the camp are members of a union viewed
by critics as an Excellon-friendly "protection union." A leader of the
so-called protection union was quoted in media coverage condoning the
protest camp's destruction.
"The United Steelworkers denounces this violence and aggression against
peaceful demonstrators whose goal is to protect their environment and
lift their communities out of poverty," Neumann said.
"The ongoing conflict surrounding the Excellon Resources mining
operations in Mexico should have been settled long ago. This deplorable
situation could be resolved quickly and easily if Excellon would treat
the landowners and workers with respect and dignity, and negotiate a
Neumann also denounced Canada's federal government for rejecting real
accountability measures for Canadian mining companies operating abroad,
particularly in jurisdictions where workers and communities have little
recourse with their own governments and institutions.
"The travesty we are witnessing in Mexico is a further condemnation of
the refusal by the Harper Conservatives to hold Canadian mining
companies accountable for their actions abroad," he said.
Human rights groups and labour activists have raised mounting concerns
in recent years regarding the activities of Canadian mining companies
operating abroad. Canada's Excellon Resources Inc. is one such company.
Excellon, which operates a silver mine in Durango Mexico, has been
denounced by human rights and labour groups in Mexico, the U.S. and
Canada for its role in a festering conflict with Mexican landowners and
Communal landowners and workers accuse Excellon of violating their
rights and breaking agreements on issues including water treatment and
environmental protection, economic benefits and union representation.
Amid intimidation and irregularities, the National Union of Mine, Metal
and Steelworkers (Los Mineros) - one of Mexico's few independent and
democratic unions - lost an election to represent workers at Excellon's
mine by a one-vote margin. Critics allege the union that purports to
represent the mine's workers is one of Mexico's infamous,
company-friendly "protection unions."
After three months of peaceful demonstration by men, women and children
from a communal landowners group known as Ejido La Sierrita, the
protest camp outside Excellon's mine was attacked and destroyed this
week by scores of thugs who were bused to the site.
The landowners have taken legal action to try to rescind their lease of
the land on which Excellon's mine operates.
Excellon refused to fully participate in efforts at real dialogue with
workers and landowners despite efforts by Canada's Extractive Sector
Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor. In explaining the company's
withdrawal from the process, an Excellon official accused Canada's CSR
Counsellor of bias.
A complaint has been filed with the OECD alleging gross violations of
the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, to which both Canada and
Mexico are signatory.
A complaint has been filed with the Ontario Securities Commission over
lack of disclosure allegations against Excellon.
SOURCE: United Steelworkers (USW)