By Mónica Montalvo, Translated by Scott Campbell January 7, 2014. Source: El Enemigo Común
For our indigenous people, the land is not merely an object of possession and production.
The integral relationship between our people’s spiritual life and our lands has many profound implications. Furthermore, our land and our water are not commodities to be appropriated, but a common good which we and our children should freely enjoy.
-Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan
In recent weeks, the town of Zacualpan, in the municipality of Comala, has joined the growing number of farming and indigenous communities facing conflicts over mining. A few months ago, this indigenous Nahua community began hearing about a plan to build a mine – backed by Rigoberto Verduzco Rodríguez – from which gold, silver, copper and manganese would be extracted, without an environmental impact study or any approval process or permits in the offices of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Colima.
The planned mine is one kilometer from a water spring that supplies the metropolitan area of Colima-Villa de Álvarez, which would mean contaminating the water source in an area known as Cerro Gordo, which is important from a biological and geological point of view and where there is a large number of species at risk of extinction. This would translate into putting at risk the water supply for 260,000 people in the state.
The case of Zacualpan is one of the first conflicts emerging in the state, but it will not be the last, as in Colima alone there are 360 mining concessions covering virtually the entire state with the exception of the volcanos. There is already an example that shows all the negative implications of these extractive projects: the Peña Colorado mine. This mine, operated by an Italian-Argentinian-Indian firm, has been in operation for the past 44 years on the border between Colima and Jalisco and has caused severe environmental damage, territorial displacement and human rights violations in the Nahua communities. The Peña Colorado mine has also meant threats, assassinations and disappearances, as in the case of the indigenous Nahua Celedonio Monroy Prudencio, member of the Ayotitlan Council of Elders.