Mining and the Oaxaca massacre

A market scene in Nochixtlán, the capital of a large indigenous district. The police attack took place on a market day, thereby maximizing the number of civilians present.

A market scene in Nochixtlán, the capital of a large indigenous district. The police attack took place on a market day, thereby maximizing the number of civilians present.

By: Agustín Ávila Romero

The massacre in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca where 11 people lost their life, more than 100 were injured and 18 were removed from a funeral so that the Federal Police could present them as detainees, not only shows that grave democratic backwardness lives in Mexico, where a civilian demonstration is answered with the use of heavy-caliber firearms despite being prohibited for dissuading social protest in international protocols; it also shows the inability of the Secretary of Education, Aurelio Nuño, to start a dialogue and carry out an education reform that fully includes the actors in the process of teaching-learning in the impetus of education in Mexico.

But beyond freeing a path of communication, what are the reasons behind why the Mexican government would act this way? What hidden and open interests are expressed behind this massacre? Why the cruel federal police attack against inhabitants of Nochixtlán, and why in this place? We’re trying to get close to an answer.

The Peña Nieto government accomplished a series of constitutional modifications with structural reforms that make possible the dispossession of lands in campesino and indigenous zones of Mexico. Different than the reform of the 90´s, foreign capital today can fully invest and through the national energy law establish serfdom schemes –they’re defined that way- where the campesinos can receive rent only for oil, gas and mineral exploitation. In that regard it defines priority use as that of energy and minerals and below that food or cattle production. Said reform has been advancing strongly in states in the country’s north and particularly in Veracruz. The dispossession and affectations to health due to mining and fracking (exploitation of gas and oil through fracture of the earth with high-pressure water) already live and beat in many regions of Mexico.

But it’s in the states in Mexico’s south-southeast -where the agrarian tradition is strongest- where capital confronts resistances and a decided opposition to its interests. Coincidentally, on June 1, some days before the repression in Oaxaca, Peña Nieto issued the decree about Special Economic Zones, through which spaces for transnational capital (STC) are constructed that would permit them to construct the enclave infrastructure necessary for the exploitation and exportation of mineral, energy (like the wind farms already installed on the Oaxacan Isthmus) and agro-combustible resources that these zones possess.

Meanwhile, what is verified in the state of Oaxaca is the process of decomposition of social and community fabrics by means of violence that would permit taking advantage and full disposition of these zones in the dynamic of accumulation by dispossession that the foreign mining companies and national and foreign capital have that were auctioned in rounds 1 and zero last year.

This is grave. If we look at a map we can think that this process of erosion and violence of the commons, initiated with force in the state of Michoacán with the full domination of drug trafficking over many territories (we remember La Familia Michoacana and the Apatzingan and Tanhuato Massacres), under force in Guerrero where the massacre of the Ayotzinapa students in Iguala, showed the alliances of political power with drug trafficking and mining in the exploitation of gold in the region. And now it arrives in Oaxaca in a noisy way with this news that goes around the world. This tendency towards the South begs the question: after Oaxaca, does a new massacre follow in Chiapas? At the bottom of this Shock logic –taking a phrase from Naomi Klein- it’s looking to deterritorialize these spaces, in other words, that the inhabitants abandon their other productive logics and that campesino reasoning to completely impose on them their condition as paid workers and agricultural subordination to the needs of transnational financial capital.

The chief of the federal police and the one finally in charge of the Oaxaca massacre, Enrique Galindo, now adds to a long list of violent evictions and extrajudicial executions. He led the eviction of teachers from the Mexico City Zócalo in 2013 with various teachers beaten and gassed. On November 20, 2014, he also led the expulsion from the Zócalo of the big demonstration that the parents of the disappeared Ayotzinapa students headed. Under his command, the elimination of the autodefensas of Michoacán in Apatzingán left 16 deaths in January 2015 and in Tanhuato 43 people accused of being drug traffickers were dead.

Meanwhile, one cannot assert that Galindo does not possess experience in the theme. It was something coldly calculated that happened in Oaxaca last Sunday, what they did not foresee was that they would film them using firearms, which they continue denying as of this date.

Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, according to studies of EPN’s Secretary of Economy, has mining potential that dates from the colonial epoch in the case of gold and silver in the El Dorado and La Soledad mines and from the middle of the last century for Manganese. It has five areas of minerals: Huaclilla-El Parian, Buenavista, Jaltepec, Jalpetongo and La Joya. It maintains one of the highest averages of attaining minerals by the ton, and a potential for gas exploitation also exists in that territory. And it is a connecting zone between the mining zones of the Oaxacan Mixteca, where private companies like Minerales del Norte of the AHMSA Group have started iron exploitation, affecting the rights of the indigenous peoples.

According to information from the federal government’s Secretariat of Energy, more than 15 percent of Oaxacan territory (more than a million hectares) is already conceded to mining companies for exploration and exploitation. Among those companies, foreign and Mexican companies stand out like: Golden Trump Resources S.A de C.V, Linear Gold Corp, Arco Resources Corp, Zalamera, S.A. de C.V. filial de Chesapeake Gold Corp, Cemento Portland Cruz Azul, SCL, Fortuna Silver-Continuum Resources, Compañía Minera del Norte, Aurea Mining Inc., Linear Metals Corp, Radius Gold, Compañía Minera Plata Real, New Coast Silver Mines LTD, Aura Silver Resources Inc. and Intrepid Mines Ltd.

In February of this year, residents of 48 communities and representatives of 30 organizations demanded the cancellation of 400 concessions and 35 mining projects in indigenous zones of Oaxaca, civilian organizations like EDUCA, Tequio Juridico, Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez de Oaxaca and Servicio del pueblo Mixe, among others, supported said pronouncement.

Criminalizing and murdering members of organizations like the Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB), el Consejo de Defensa de los Derechos del Pueblo (CODEP), el Frente Popular Revolucionario (FPR) or the Oaxaca Commune, among other organizations, only has the objective of sowing terror in the state and thus being able to fully carry out mining activities with their consequent effects on indigenous life and culture, on the environment, on health and on social relations.

The strategy of territorial division is something that the political parties have done, but in this fight in particular the teachers have achieved confronting, and uniting the inhabitants of the different regions of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero, where the fight is not strictly for education vindications, but rather has now moved to the defense of territory, life and ecology. Perhaps that is what the federal forces detected in Oaxaca and, therefore, wanted to give this blow that would permit breaking those social and community bonds of self-management.


Originally Published in Spanish by Desinformemonos

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee


One Comment on “Mining and the Oaxaca massacre

  1. Pingback: Looting The Earth: motive behind racist Oaxaca Massacre. | The Free

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