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Si a La Vida, No a la Mineria / Yes to Life, No to Mining

El Encuentro de Pueblos de Mesoamérica “Si a la Vida, No a la Minería: Tejiendo la Resistencia por la Defensa de Nuestros Territorios”, se llevó a cabo del 17 al 20 de Enero del 2013 en Calpulalpam de Méndez, México. Aproximadamente 500 participantes de diferentes países, al igual que de toda la república de México, asistieron a este evento.

El objetivo del encuentro era analizar las consecuencias de la minería en los territorios de Mesoamérica para generar alternativas de defensa, organización y articulación desde los Pueblos.

Durante el encuentro se discutieron temas como el modelo extractivista de bienes comunes (mal llamados recursos naturales), el panorama general de la minería en México y otros países Americanos, los impactos de la minería a nivel ambiental, social y en la salud humana, la legislación minera y sus impactos, y la resistencia de los pueblos.

Para leer la declaratoria publicada por los participantes de este encuentro, haga click aquí: /declaratoria-enc…


The Gathering of Mesoamerican Peoples, “Say yes to Life, Say no to Mining: Weaving Resistance for the Defense of our Territory”, took place on January 17th through the 20th, 2013, in Calpulalpam de Mendez, Oaxaca, Mexico. Approximately 500 people from all across Mexico and different countries attended the event.

The objective of this gathering was to analyze the consequences of mining in Mesoamerica in order to come up with ways to resist, organize, and communicate amongst the different groups.

Different themes were discussed throughout the gathering: the extraction model of common goods (natural resources); the general overview of mining in Mexico and in other countries of the Americas; the environmental, social, and health impacts of mining; and resistance by the people.

The event’s participants released the following statement (translated into English):

FORMAL WRITTEN STATEMENT: Gathering of the Peoples of Mesoamerica: Yes to life, No to Mining.

The people, communities, collectives and networks, representative of the diversity that characterizes the Mesoamerican region, have gathered on January 17th – 20th of 2013, in the Zapotec community of Calpulalpam de Mendez in order to analyze the issues related to mining in our territories, and we have shared our experiences defending and resisting the mining mega-projects set in motion by transnational capital. The voices of the participants would like to pronounce: We currently live under a political and economic model based on the plunder and the rapid extraction of our common goods -such as minerals, water, forests, petroleum, air, gas, carbon, knowledge -through the pillage and marketing of our ancestral lands.

Under the imposition of this model of extraction, the people of Mesoamerica fight against a hegemonic transnational process that destroys our own social, economic, political and cultural structures.

In order to implement this model the governments have signed a series of multilateral agreements -such as Plan Merida, the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Mesoamerican Project, the North American Free Trade Agreement amongst others- that result in agrarian, energy, labor, education, budgetary, security and judicial structural reforms; which take place with the support of the government, the military and the capital sector represented by businesses, the State and the multilateral financial institutions. In this sense, when the governments choose to side with the plundering capitalism, or when they associate with the international corporations, they become the enemies of our people.

Under this model of extraction, we have decided to weave our resistance through the strengthening of our community structures, such as assemblies (community authorities), keeping control of the communal territory and strengthening our historic memory.

The time when the government represented an absolute power is a thing of the past; it is necessary to have a new relationship with the government, where the indigenous people can decide the destiny of their territory.

Under the huge threat that the mining industry represents for our Mesoamerican region, we call for the people and the communities of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Canada and Mexico to strengthen our networks of resistance in order to create alliances based in our knowledge, where the defense of the territory is the base of our communication.

In order to defend life, our sacred spaces, our forests and rivers, mountains, springs and our sons and daughters we DEMAND:

•A change of the current economic and political model that allows the plundering of our territories, as well as a change in the authoritarian, colonialist, militarized, patriarchal politics exercised by the governments. The respect of the people’s decisions must be a fundamental part of a new relationship with the state-governments. This means the implementation of the right for self-determination of the indigenous, farm worker and rural communities.

•The cancelation of all the mining projects, in the Mesoamerican region, where the communities are in disagreement with the model of extraction used.

•For the procedures of community consultation to be respected, because they are an ancestral tradition of participation and decision making of the people. We demand that the results to be considered binding; these consultations represent a substantive right of protection to the fundamental rights of indigenous people.

•To create mechanisms to guarantee that the border territories will be free of mining projects and to prevent bi-national conflicts that threaten the harmony and good neighbor politics in the Mesoamerican region.

•Justice for all the defenders of the territory that have been criminalized, threatened, attacked and murdered in the Mesoamerican region.

•A law in Honduras that prohibits open-pit mining and underground mining, as well as the compensation and reparations for the harms caused to the environment by Gold Corp Corporation and other companies.

•A halt in the incitement, repression and legal prosecution against the non-violent struggle of Guatemala, solidarity with the people of Puya, in the East of Guatemala.

•That the constitutional court favors the recourse of unconstitutionality against the mining law that the People’s Council presented in March 2012.

•That the Guatemalan government respects the decisions manifested by the people during the community consultations already done.

Our wealth is not measured by the amount of minerals produced, but by our own organizational, political, social and cultural proposals. The aggressions against our communities wound us very deeply, so we DEMAND:

•A cancelation of the mining concessions and the acknowledgement of the NO to mining resolution of the general assembly of members of the commune and citizens of Calpulalpam de Mendez; as well as the permanent closure of the mining company Natividad and any connected companies.

•A cancelation of the mining project “San Jose”, in the municipality of San Jose del Progreso, Oaxaca, the cancelation of the mining concessions already made in the Central Valleys region, and punishment for the perpetrators of the crimes committed against the Coordinadora de Pueblos Unidos del Valle de Ocotlán since 2006.

•A halt to the human rights violations perpetrated by the Canadian mining company Excellon Resources Inc. to ejido members of La Sierrita and the mineworkers who are members of the Local 309 of the Mining Union in Durango.

•A solution to the conflict in the local government of Tlacolula. Punishment to the aggressions of the municipal president of Tlacolula against the members of the Coordinadora para la Defensa de los Recursos Naturales del Valle de Tlacolula.

•The cancelation of the hydroelectric project Paso de la Reina in the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico.

•A solution to the municipal problem of San Mateo del Mar in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

•Justice for the Triqui people.

•Justice for Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola.

•We denounce the death threats against Carlos Beas, Bettina Cruz Velásquez, Rodrigo Flores Peñaloza, and Saúl Celaya, and we ask for an end to the permanent harassment against the communities in resistance to the eolian mega-project in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec by the state government and the Spanish company Mareña Renovables.

We are in solidarity with the “Idle no More” movement in the defense of their territories and sovereignty.

We recognize the community of Capulálpam de Méndez for being an example in their political and community organization and in their resistance against the mining projects of the Sierra Juarez.

We have the right to say NO to the imposed development and to define our economic, social, political, and cultural models.

For the defense of our territories: Yes to Life, No to Mining in the Mesoamerican Region.

Capulálpam de Méndez, Oaxaca, México. January 19th, 2013.


1. Gathering of Mesoamerican Peoples – Encuentro de Pueblos de Mesoamérica

The Gathering of Mesoamerican Peoples, “Say yes to Life, Say no to Mining: Weaving Resistance for the Defense of our Territory”, took place on January 17th through the 20th, 2013, in Calpulalpam de Mendez, Oaxaca, Mexico. *************** El Encuentro de pueblos de Mesoamérica, “Sí a la Vida, No a la Minería: Tejiendo la Resistencia por la Defensa de Nuestros Territorios”, se llevó a cabo del 17 al 20 de Enero del 2013, en Calpulalpam de Mendez, Oaxaca, México.

2. Calpulalpam de Mendez’ church – La iglesia de Calpulalpam de Mendez

Calpulalpam de Mendez is a beautiful town that was recently named a Magical Village by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism. ********** Calpulalpam de Mendez es un pueblo hermoso que recientemente fue nombrado Pueblo Mágico por el Secretariado de Turismo de México.

3. Calpulalpam de Mendez

Calpulapam de Mendez´ mountains have been reforested and protected by the community. **********

Las montañas de Calpulalpam de Mendez han sido reforestadas y protejidas por la comunidad.

4. Water supply – Fuentes de agua

The community of Calpulalpam de Mendez has experienced many of the negative effects of mining, including the loss of 13 springs that provided them with drinking water. ********** La comunidad de Calpulalpam de Mendez ha experimentado muchos de los efectos negativos de la minería, incluyendo la desaparición de 13 ojos de agua que eran su fuente de agua potable.

5. Sacred places – Lugares Sagrados

For the the majority of residents of Calpulalpam de Mendez, the areas of interest to the mining companies are considered sacred places and are sites of ancestral offerings for rain and water. ********** Para los residentes de Calpulalpam de Mendez las áreas de interés para las empresas mineras son lugares sagrados, en dónde sus antepasados hacían ofrendas relacionadas con el agua y la lluvia.

6. Water – El agua

Water is extremely important for the people of Calpulalpam de Mendez. All of their drinking water comes from the springs that surround their town. Water also generates jobs, as the community also owns and operates a sustainable water bottling project. ********** El agua es extremadamente importante para la gente de Calpulalpam de Mendez. Toda su agua potable proviene de manantiales y ojos de agua que rodean su comunidad. El agua también genera empleos, ya que la comunidad es dueña de un proyecto para embotellar agua de manera sustentable.

7. Trees – Árboles

The community of Calpulalpam also depends on the tress and the mountains in order to make a living. They collectively own a sustainable logging project that generates many jobs and income for the community.

********** La comunidad de Calpulalpam también depende de los árboles y de las montañas para sobrevivir, ya que operan, de una manera colectiva, un proyecto de tala controlada de árboles que genera trabajo y riqueza para la comunidad.

8. Ecoturism – Ecoturismo

The community of Calpulalpam de Mendez also operates an ecoturism project in the area. This is another reason why they work on preserving and protecting the environment. ********** La comunidad de Calpulalpam de Mendeztambién opera un proyecto de ecoturismo en el área. Esta es otra razón por la cual trabajan para preservar y protejer el medio ambiente

9.Progress – Progreso

The people of Calpulalpam de Mendez propose a different idea of progress, in which we can take care and respect mother earth. They oppose large scale mining because they have already lived with the consecuences of these types of projects: death, illnesses and the destruction of the environment.

********** Los residentes de Calpulalpam de Mendez proponen una idea de progreso en dónde se cuide y respete la madre tierra. Ellos se oponen a la minería a gran escala porque ya han vivido las desastrozas consecuencias de estos proyectos: muerte, enfermedades y la destrucción del medio ambiente.

10. Cultural wealth – Riqueza Cultural

In addition to the environmetal wealth of the area, Calpulalpam de Mendez is also culturally wealthy. Several bands played music for the gathering’s participants throughout the weekend. ********** Además de ser un área rica en recursos naturales, Calpulalpam de Mendez también tiene una enorme riqueza cultural. Varias bandas musicales tocaron música para los participantes del Encuentro durante todo el fín de semana.

11. Inspiration – Inspiración

An event participant reads a poem which he wrote about the gathering *********** Un participante del evento lee un poema que escribió acerca del Encuentro

12. Marimba

Netzor Arreortua Martinez, Constitutional Mayor of Calpulalpam de Mendez, introduces the Youth Marimba Band. ********** Netzor Arreortua Martinez, Alcalde Único Constitucional de Calpulalpam de Mendez, presenta a la banda juvenil de Marimba.

13. CD Launch – Lanzamiento del disco

The Youth Marimba Band New Emerald of Calpulalpam de Mendez launched their first CD during the gathering. The youth band has received several awards and some of their members have performed in countries like the United States and China. ********** El grupo Juvenil de Marimba Nueva Esmeralda de Calpulalpam de Mendez hizo el lanzamineto de su primer disco compacto durante el Encuentro. Este grupo ha ganado varios premios y algunos de sus integrantes han tocado marimba en países como Estados Unidos y China.

14. Closing – Clausura

The gathering´s speakers got together on stage for the closing statement of the event. ********** Los ponentes del encuentro se reunieron en la tarima durante la declaración de clausura del evento.

15. Movement for Peace – Movimiento por la Paz

Members of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity´s Indigenous Caucus spoke on stage. ********** Miembros del Comité de Asutos Indígenas del Movimiento por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad hablaron desde el escenario.

16. Participation – Participación

Participants asked questions and made proposals during the Q&A period that followed the panel presentations. ********** Los participantes hicieron preguntas y plantearon propuestas durante el periodo de preguntas y respuestas despues de las presentaciones de los paneles.

17. Guanajuato

José Luis Valdés, member of the organizations Mexican Network of Communities Affected by Mining and For the Rescue of Dignity and Mining, spoke with WfP about the devastating consecuences of loosing the first and last mining cooperative in Mexico, the Metallurgical Mining Cooperative Society of Santa Fe de Guanajuato, Number One.

********** José Luis Valdés, integrante de la Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería y de Por el Rescate de la Dignidad y la Minería, habló con APP acerca de las devastadoras consecuencias que tuvo la pérdida de la primera y última cooperativa minera de México, la Sociedad Cooperativa Minera Metalúrgica Santa Fe de Guanajuato Número Uno.

18.Leovigildo Vásquez Sánchez

Leovigildo Vásquez Sánchez, Secretary of the Coordinating Committee of the United Villages of the Ocotlan Valley, speaks about the resistance of his community, San Jose del Progreso, to mining mega-projects (for more information visit:…)

********** Leovigildo Vásquez Sánchez, Secretario de la Coordinadora de los Pueblos Unidos del Valle de Ocotlán, habla acerca de la resistencia de su comunidad, San José del Pacífico, a mega-proyectos mineros.

19. Working Groups – Talleres de Trabajo

Felipe Martinez presents the results of the working group that discussed “Community Proposals for a Good Life” ********** Felipe Martinez presenta los resultados del taller de trabajo que discutió “Alternativas desde los Pueblos para el Buen Vivir”

20. Triquis

Members of the Triqui indigenous community of San Juan Copala spoke about the human rights violations and the forced displacement that they are experiencing.

********** Miembros de la comunidad indígena Triuqi de San Juan Copala ahblaron de los abusos de derechos humanos y del desplazamiento forzado del cual son víctimas.

21. Triquis

The Triquis also asked for justice for their families who have been unjustly detained and incarcerated. ********** Los Triquis también pidieron justicia para sus familiares que han sido detenidos y encarcelados injustamente.

22. Facilitators – Facilitadores

Facilitators in each working group helped focus the conversations and keep the dialogue going. **********

Los facilitadores de cada grupo de trabajo ayudaron a mantener el enfoque y la fluidés de las conversaciones.

23. The Good Life – El Buen Vivir

The debate on how to create and sustain a “good life” in our communities included the participation of rural and urban residents and people of all ages. ********* El debate de cómo crear y mantener el “buen vivir” en nuestras comunidades incluyó la participación de residentes de áreas urbanas y rurales, como también personas de todas las edades.

24. Media – Medios de Comunicación

The gathering attracted journalists from different countries and was streamed live on the internet. ********* El encuentro atrajo a reporteros de diferentes países y se transmitió en vivo por el internet.

25. Women – La Mujer

A common theme during the gathering was the importance of women in the social, cultural, political, and economic life of the communities. ********* Un tema común de las discusiones del encuentro fué la importancia de la mujer en la vida social, cultural, política y económica de los pueblos.

26. Art – Arte

Art pieces related to mining were exhibited during the gathering. ********* Obras de arte relacionadas con la minería fueron expuestas durante el encuentro.

27. Community – Comunidad

It took the community of Calpulalpam de Mendez one year to prepare and to plan for the logistics of the event . They created 15 committees which organized and executed the tasks necessary in order house and feed more than 500 people. ********** La comunidad de Calpulalpam de Mendez tuvo que trabajar por un año para planear la logística este evento. Crearon 15 comités para coordinar las logísticas necesarias para hospedar y alimentar a más de 500 personas.

28. International Speakers – Ponentes Internacionales

The gathering included speakers from Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Honduras, Canada and El Salvador, who all spoke about the ways in which mining mega-projects are affecting their countries and how their communities are organizing to defend their territories. ********* El encuentro inculyó ponentes de Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Honduras, Canadá y el Salvador, quienes hablaron acerca de como los mega-proyectos mineros los afectan en sus respectivos países, y de cómo sus comunidades se están organizando para defender sus territorios.

29. Guatemala

The speakers from Guatemela, emphasized the importance of community consultation BEFORE the approval of the mining projects. ********* Los ponentes de Guatemala hicieron un énfasis en la importancia de la consulta comunitaria ANTES de aprovar los proyectos mineros.

30. In remembrance – En su Memoria

The gathering’s participants remembered those who lost their lives defending their territories from mega-projects. ********** Los participantes del encuentro recordaron a aquellos que perdieron la vida defendiendo sus territorios de mega-proyectos.

31. Honoring Mother Earth – En honor a la Madre Tierra

The event´s participants honored Mother Earth in a small ceremony on the last day of the gathering ********* Los participantes del evento hicieron honor a la Madre Tierra en una pequeña ceremonia durante el último día del Encuentro.

32. Migrants – Migrantes

During the ceremony, the participants remembered the thousands of people who have lost their lives trying to migrate to the U.S. ********** Durante la ceremonia, los participantes recordaron a las miles de personas que han perdido sus vidas tratando de migrar a los Estados Unidos de América.

33. Orchestra – Orquesta

The Youth Orchestra of Calpulalpam de Mendez made the participants dance after a long day of work. ********* La Orquesta juvenil de Calpulalpam de Mendez hizo bailar a los participantes después de un largo día de trabajo.

34. Impacts on human health – Los impactos en la salud humana

Gathering participants discussed the impacts that mining can have on human health. They acknowledged that these impacts vary from person to person depending on their social conditioning. ********* Los participantes del encuentro discutieron los impactos que la minería puede tener en la salud humana. Se discutió que estos impactos varían de persona a persona dependiendo de su condición social.

35. Local authorities – Autoridades locales

Local authorities of Calpulalpam de Mendez were recognized for their leadership and organizing as well as for succesfully providing sustainble economic projects that generate jobs and are environmentally sustainable. ********** Las autoridades locales de Calpulalpam de Mendez fueron reconocidas por su liderasgo, su modelo organizativo y por sus exitosos modelos económicos sustentables que han generado trabajos y armonía con la naturaleza.

36. An ancestral tradition – Una Tradición Ancestral

Community consultation is an ancestral tradition of participation and decision making of the Mesoamerican people, therefore it should always be respected. ********** La consulta comunitaria es una tradición ancestral en la participación y toma de decisiones de los pueblos Mesoamericanos, por lo cual siempre debería ser respetada.

37. Alternatives – Alternativas

Participants discuss the alternatives to mega-projects. *********** Los participantes discuten las alternativas a los mega-proyectos.

38. History – Historia

Participants learned about the experience of Calpulalpam de Mendez´residents during the time when the Natividad mine was operating. ********** Los participantes aprendieron acerca de la experiencia de los residentes de Calpulalpam de Mendez durante el periodo cuando la mina de la Natividad estaba funcionando.

39. No to mining – No a la Minería

The reasons why Calpulalpam de Mendez opposes mining are many; the destruction of the environment, the deaths and illnesses related to mining and the fact that mega-mining does not increase the well-being of the community are but a few. When the Natividad mine was functioning, the wealth extracted went abroad to the transnational corporations. ********** Las razones por las que Calpulalpam de Mendez se opone a la minería son muchas; la destrucción del medio ambiente, las enfermedades y las muertes relacionadas con la minería, y el hecho de que la minería nunca incrementó el bienestar de los residentes, son algunas de ellas. Cuando la mina Natividad estaba funcionando, las riquezas extraidas se llevaban al extranjero, a las empresas transnacionales.

40. Resistance – Resistencia

Gathering participants look at pictures of actions of resistance to mega-projects ********** Participantes del Encuentro contemplan fotografías de acciones de resistencia en contra de los mega-proyectos.

41. Music – Musica

A musical trio plays music for the participants during dinner. ********** Un trio musical toca música para los particpantes durante la cena.

42. San Jose del Progreso

In Oaxaca, violence and terror have been used to keep people from organizing. Leovigildo Vásquez Sánchez lost his brother in the struggle for self-determination to the community. He told WfP: ““Our major achievement is resistance. As we say in San Jose, people resist. They have cut the flowers, but the summer in San Jose has no end. San Jose blooms, always blooms, because people are very aware, very humble, and very smart. And they have been able to take the movement very far.”

********** En Oaxaca, la violencia y el terror se han usado para prevenir que la gente se organize. Leovigildo Vásquez Sánchez perdió a su hermano en la lucha por la autonomía de su comunidad, San José del Progreso. Él le dijo a APP: “Nuestro logro más grande es la resistencia. Como decimos en San José, la gente resiste. Han cortado las flores, pero el verano en San José no tiene fín. San José florece, siempre florece, porque la gente es muy conciente, muy humilde, y muy inteligente. Y han llevado el movimiento muy lejos”.

43. Audience member – Miembr@ de la audiencia

44. Audience member – Miembr@ de la audiencia

45.Dr. Juan Amendares

Dr. Juan Amendares, member of the Honduran Mother Earth Movement , the Mesoamerican Movement against the Mining Extraction Model and, Friends of the Earth International, called for international solidarity in defense of the land. *********** Dr. Juan Amendares, miembro del Movimiento Madre Tierra de Honduras, El Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo extractivo Minero, y Amigos de la Tierra Internacional, hizo un llamado de solidaridad internacional en defensa de la tierra.

46. Resistance – Resistencia

Gustavo Castro Soto spoke about three types of resistance: pasive, active and with the ability to create change. The passive resists submissively. The active mobilizes to marches and stops projects. The one with the ability to create change results in a different way of living and a different relationship with Mother Earth and respect to diversity. ********** Gustavo Castro Soto habló acerca de tres tipos de resistencia: pasiva, activa y propositiva. La pasiva resiste pasivamente. La activa se mobiliza a marchas y detiene proyectos. La propositiva genera diferentes formas de vida, una diferente relación con la madre tierra y respeto a la diversidad.

47. Craters – Cráteres

Alejandro Villamar spoke about the model of extraction used in mega-mining projects. “Open-pit mining creates craters that can be seen from the moon”. ********** Alejandro Villamar habló acerca del modelo de extracción que se usa en los mega-proyectos mineros. “La minería a cielo abiertocrea cráteres que se pueden ver desde la luna”.

48. Local Authorities – Autoridades locales

Local authorities from Calpulalpam de Mendez. ********** Autoridades locales de Calpulalpam de Mendez.

49. Sí a la Vida… No a la Minería

Yes to life… No to Mining

50. Weaving resistance – Tejiendo resistencia

51. Remembrance – En Memoria

52. Remembrance – En Memoria

Carmen Santiago Alonso, from Flor y Canto, puts together an altar with offerings and photographs of land defenders. ********** Carmen Santiago Alonso, de Flor y Canto, organiza un altar con ofrendas y fotos de defensores de la tierra.


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