At 6 a.m., the AFL-CIO participated as an international observer as mineworkers and community members peacefully blocked access to the Canadian mining company Excellon Resources Inc. at La Platosa mine in Durango, Mexico. The protesters have maintained their camp at the entrance of the mine since July 8. They continue to seek negotiation and demand a resolution to the conflicts between Excellon, local landowners and workers in the mine.
Workers in the mine and community members knew that Excellon had planned to bring in contractors to perform exploratory drilling, construction and maintenance early this morning. The objective was to prevent these works from advancing and assert the communal landowners' rights. In September, the Ejido La Sierrita also filed a suit to suspend its contract with Excellon since the company has not honored its commitments.
“Our blockade is legal," said David Espinoza, president of the board of directors of the Ejido La Sierrita.
We are within our rights and are not protesting on company land. The company has utilized force and disinformation to avoid its responsibility to sit down at the negotiation table. But we are not going away. This morning, we blocked access of vehicles to the mine but allowed personnel to pass through on foot.
As in many mining communities, local families and workers in Durango are building alliances and demanding more from the companies who extract resources and wealth, leaving behind environmental problems and communities that often receive neither respect nor a fair amount of the profits while the mine is operating. Since early July, mineworkers and community activists from Durango have effectively stopped production in the Excellon mine. The company has continuously refused to honor its 2008 land use agreement with the community and a 2009 agreement signed with the workers to recognize and bargain with Section 309 of the national Mineros union.
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