URGENT SECOND LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF MEXICO,
THE PEOPLES AND GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD
Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto
Constitutional President of the United Mexican States
To the Peoples and Governments of the World
We the undersigned, traditional and agrarian authorities from the communities of San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán, Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlán and Bancos de San Hipólito, Wixárika Regional Council members, come to make known to you in your capacity as Head of the Mexican State, that those who make up the Wixárika people, keep firm our way of defending and protecting one of the most important pillars of the world, which is in the highlands of San Luis Potosí in the region known as Wirikuta, which includes the municipalities of Catorce, Charcas, Villa de la Paz, Villa de Guadalupe and Matehuala, SLP, where several mining companies seek to destroy the veins of our fathers, mothers and older brothers and sisters who live in those lands. They are our ancestors who gave birth to life in the world and continue reconstructing each of their steps so that the sun will rise every day — not only for us, but for everyone. It is there, at the sacred sites, where the candles of life for the world are sustained.
It is so serious and important that all our people from over 500 ceremonial centers maintain a sole voice asking for the mining concessions to be canceled. Wirikuta is one of the most important shrines where the visits of our pilgrims maintain the fertility and balance of the world and all creatures. We have scientific evidence that the mining operation would deeply affect the ecology of the area, draining and polluting its sacred springs; as we have said before, not even all the gold in the world would be enough to pay for all that would be destroyed if they destroy Wirikuta. It would be infinitely cheaper to get these companies out of the area than to mourn the incalculable ecological, social and spiritual tragedy that would eventually occur for both our people and the inhabitants of the area.
At the present time, we believe it is essential to build sound governance in the region, in which the collective human rights of the ejidatarios of the region and the Wixárika people to health, a healthy environment and to their own cultural way of life are respected fully, and where destructive mining and agribusiness does not have a place.
Wirikuta is our life
Wirikuta is for us, the Wixárika people, the foundation of our community and family life. On it depends the health of the children who imaginarily visit these ancient altars in the drum ceremony every year until they are 5 years old; it is the basis of knowledge from our elders and councils of elders that is conveyed to our children and youth. It is the basis of the schedule of our traditional authorities, civil and agricultural. That is, is the basis of absolutely all social fabric of our people, a population of over 50 thousand Wixaritari. If Wirikuta ends we die as the Wixárika People.
Wirikuta is protected by several decrees as the Cultural and Ecological Reserve of San Luis Potosí since 1994, which has been insufficient. It has been further designated an area of importance for the conservation of birds and is part of the indicative list of the natural heritage of UNESCO, and is considered the most important reservoir of biodiversity of the Chihuahuan Desert. It is a climatic regulator that contributes significantly to the capture of greenhouse gases, producers of global warming.
Our people are standing up to fight
Faced with the real threat that not only will the natural resources be exploited but also ecosystemic and spiritual patterns of Wirikuta will be devastated mainly by mining exploitation, our people undertook a fight in September of 2010 and it was not easy because it has been constructed with the words of our highest spiritual authorities who are our ancestors, whose word is conducted by the maraakate and councils of elders as well as by our collective voice expressed in the general assemblies.
We have discovered in this fight that not only we but large sections of society in Mexico and the world walk with the conviction that Wirikuta is a heritage of the whole nation, of the indigenous peoples who maintain the certainty that the Earth is our mother and is alive as recognized by UNESCO.
On May 9, 2011, we delivered a first urgent letter to the President of the United Mexican States and the peoples of the world which clearly points out that our demands depart from the cancellation of any and all existing mining concessions in the area of 140 thousand hectares corresponding to the existing decree as state ecological reserve.
We have also expressed a number of steps needed to safeguard Wirikuta, such as:
- The elevation of its protective status as Natural Protected Area to the Federal level
- The cancellation of mining concessions as the National Commission on Human Rights (CNDH) lays out in its recommendation 56/2012 to be illegal, which recommendation incidentally was accepted in its entirety by the federal authorities.
- The immediate halt of the agroindustrial companies that are illegally destroying hundreds of hectares.
- The inclusion of Wirikuta on the listing of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, removing the absurd nomination made by the previous administration for recognition as intangible heritage only, given that the sanctuary is comprised of highly valuable ecosystems.
Also making use of the constitutional rights that assist us, we have interposed several lawsuits through which we have achieved the suspension of the mining project “La Luz” of the Canadian mining company First Majestic Silver Corp. and its Mexican subsidiary Minera Real Bonanza.
We have performed the technical studies to assess, together with some of the most qualified scientific opinions of the country, the real impacts of mining and metallurgical activities on ecosystems of the region, on whose integrity we rely as peoples.
So we realized that not only the sacred mountains of the Sierra de Catorce are under threat but also the altars that are in the shallows where we conduct our pilgrimages, ceremonies, offerings and the hunt for our sacred plant the Hikuri, bearer of wisdom of our ancestors.
In the context of the federal administration that has just ended, in the last weeks of their administration they issued the Draft Decree of the Natural Protected Biosphere Reserve, which we welcome and support under the following premises:
- Any metallurgical mining activity be prohibited in all its forms.
- The fundamental human rights of the individual and collective peoples who occupy that territory whether in an agrarian way, such as the ejidos of the region, or in a traditional way, as with all the Wixaritari communities who live in the states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Durango, must be unconditionally respected.
The law is on our side
We base our demands on constitutional rights, national and international laws that assist us as peoples.
As is the case with Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, Articles 2, 6, 7, 14 and 15; equally Articles 1, 2 and 27 fraction VII, paragraph II of the Constitution of the United Mexican States and other related laws, customary rights and applicable regulations.
Likewise in San Andrés Accords, also signed by Mexico, which now more than ever, it is urgent to raise them to the constitutional level.
Ecological fragility of the region
We emphasize that Mexico occupies the first place worldwide in diversity of cacti and that in the whole country the Chihuahuan Desert is home to most of them. Wirikuta is the area with the greatest diversity of the Chihuahuan Desert so this sacred territory is considered as one of the places with the greatest biodiversity worldwide, not only of cacti but of numerous endemic species.
However, it also has suffered serious environmental degradation, erosion and accumulation of environmental liabilities which are product of mining activities which date back 100 years. In recent decades companies have processed the minerals contained in the tailings.
The tailing dams contain high amounts of heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury and others that are found, according to studies by the University of Guadalajara, distributed throughout soils, plants, and animals, including wildlife such as golden eagles, and domestic animals such as the goat herds and the human inhabitants, which has led to multiple impacts and diseases that cannot be overlooked.
Considering that the biologic and physiographic features of the region, this area should be consiered a highly fragile ecosystem whose balance would be devastated by the alterations produced by mining activities.
Wirikuta deserves to be a world-class protected area
Therefore Wirikuta deserves to be protected in an exemplary manner globally, with a biocultural approach that understands that environmental protection must be based on ensuring the human rights of the inhabitants of the ejidos, their territorial rights and the rights that we have defended and practiced for thousands of years.
It is urgent that the Mexican State implement a reactivation plan for the regional economy to ensure the territorial rights of the peoples of the desert and the ecological restoration that is needed to realize their productive activities.
That they are not deprived of their territories by companies who see on their land just a commodity and to ensure the right they have to health because it has been seriously affected by the environmental liabilities in the area.
That their right to a healthy environment, free of heavy metals that invade the soil, air and water, be respected.
There is a disinformation campaign by the mining company and municipal governments
We demand that the federal government implements a truthful information campaign in the municipalities that comprise the Natural Protected Area to mitigate the confusion produced due to the disinformation campaign launched by the municipal president of Catorce, the mining company First Majestic Silver and its Mexican subsidiary Real Bonanza around the draft decree project of the Biosphere Reserve.
This disinformation campaign has been based on a series of lies such as that the land rights of the ejido members will be affected, as well as that we, the Wixaritari, will take over their lands, an issue that has created a great deal of tension that could lead to violent actions and harassment against our people.
We urge to establish an effective operational agenda
Therefore we ask you the following:
- To immediately stop the dangerous disinformation campaign waged by Hector Moreno, municipal president of Catorce.
- To schedule an audience with you as Head of the Mexican State to realize a common agenda towards the solution of this serious problem.
- To explicitly prohibit mining in any form as a key step in the action taken by the Federal Government.
We are the original peoples of this country, we are the ancient roots of Mexico, we have preserved our culture and the wisdom of our ancestors through the centuries and history and reiterate, do not destroy the Wixárika culture, do not destroy yourselves for not knowing what it is that is contained in those valleys of Wirikuta and this sierra that illuminates the world.
We are pilgrims and we have come here to give you this urgent letter, so that you as head of the Mexican State will guarantee an exemplary protection to Wirikuta or all our descendants will remember you as one who condemned them to disappear. We remain alert to of your response as head of the Mexican State, primarily responsible for the economic, environmental and social policies of the country.
We designate the “Asociación Jalisciense de Apoyo a los Grupos Indígenas, A.C.” residing at Pedro Landazuri # 735, Col. La Perla in Guadalajara, Jalisco, CP 44360, Phone (33) 3825-6886 and 3826-6103, and E-Mails firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com of Mr. Santos de la Cruz Carrillo, firstname.lastname@example.org of Octaviano Díaz Chema and email@example.com of Juan Torres González, Wixárika Regional Council authorities to receive any communication.
“The Wixárika Regional Council for the Defense of Wirikuta”
Mexico, D.F., February 7, 2013
For Wautüa and Manuka-San Sebastián Kururri Teponahuaxtlán and Tuxpan de Bolaños
Octaviano Díaz Chema
President of the Commissariat of Communal Property
Juventino González de la Cruz
President of the Supervisory Council
Venustiano Vázquez Navarrete
Suplente del Gobernador Tradicional
José Carrillo de la Cruz
Juan Pablo Sanchez Enriquez
For Tuapurie – Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlán
Aniceto Torres Robles
For Uweni Muyewe – Bancos de San Hipolito
Santos de la Cruz Carrillo
President of the Commissariat of Communal Property
Eligio Aguilar Navarrete