Murder of Anti-Mining Activists in Mexico a State Crime

Barzón leader and his partner shot to death in Chihuahua after harassment from people paid by Vancouver based company

Source: Vancouver Media Co-op

CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO-The double murder of the leader of the Barzón, Ismael Solorio Urrutia, and his wife, Manuela Martha Solís Contreras, on Monday, October 22 at 2:30pm, has caused anger and indignation among the people of Chihuahua, Mexico.

The couple was shot while they were driving in Ismael’s truck, at kilometre 26.5 of the highway between Ciudad Cuautémoc and Colonia Obregón. Faced with this state crime, activists from Chihuahua gathered in protest at the government buildings in Chihuahua City for an indefinite amount of time, demanding a face to face meeting with governor César Duarte, and demanding justice.

The double murder is the culmination of a multiple-week campaign against the diverse organizations that make up El Barzón. This campaign was denounced to the Secretary of Government one week ago by El Barzón and other community groups in Chihuahua. In the meeting with government representatives, activists told the Secretary of Government about the ongoing attacks on Ismael Solorio and his son, along with other Barzonistas who are opposing the installation of the El Cascabel mine in the ejído of Benito Juárez, in the municipality of Buenaventura, Chihuahua. El Cascabel is a subsidiary of Vancouver based mining company Mag Silver.

After Ismael Solocio and his son Eric were beaten on October 13 by a group of men paid by the mining company, a contingent from El Barzón and other organizations mobilized at the main government buildings to demand that the Chihuahua state government would guarantee the peace and the physical integrity of all members of the Barzonista movement.

Solorio was one of the leaders of opposition to the mine, as well as leading those active in denouncing illegal well drilling in the headwaters of the Carmen River, a problem that still has not been resolved. These illegal wells are being drilled by a small group of affluent people.

After the collective interview with the Secretary of Government, a group of people paid by the mining company went to the State Congress, where they were supported by legislators from the PRI. In this meeting, there were additional threats made against the majority of ejido members who oppose the mine.

It is very clear that in the commercial corridor of Cuautémoc-Colonia Obregón an organized crime group is operating, under the watchful eyes of the authorities. These are, most likely, the assassins of Solorio and his wife. The intellectual authors are clear: they are those who are part of the important interests affected by the activism of the Barzonistas, enabled by the inefficient and ignorant attitude of the Secretary of Government.

The firm decision of El Barzón and social organizations of Chihuahua is to continue occupying the government buildings until they can share their grievances directly with governor César Duarte, and until justice is done in this state crime, which is similar to the feminicide of Marisela Escobedo, murdered December 16, 2010 near the government buildings, regardless of the warnings state officials received about the threats to her life in the preceding days.