By now, the delegate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in San Luis Potosi, Joel Navarro Milan, was forced to declare that neither First Majestic Silver nor Pietro Sutti have filed formal requests nor submitted environmental impact statements (MIA): "Semarnat so far does not have recorded any project or request by the companies, because to do so they must first have an environmental impact study, but there is no record that they have done it" (The Express, St. Louis, April 8 2011).
Located in the state of San Luis Potosi, Wirikuta is one of the most biologically rich and diverse deserts in the world. In 1994 it was decreed “a Site of Cultural and Historic Heritage and an Area under Ecological Conservation”; in the year 2000 the protected area was expanded to 140 thousand hectares; and in 2001 it was declared a Sacred Natural Site by UNESCO. There is also a bird sanctuary in Wirikuta. In spite of this, it is currently under siege by First Majestic Silver, a Vancouver-based mining company that paid 3 million dollars to obtain 22 mining concessions in the area.
Those were the concerns expressed in an interview with La Jornada, by representatives of the Wixarika communities who are preparing a series of actions to reject the activities of the mining company. Last Thursday they paid a visit to the Senate to express their opposition.
The Huichol believe a god appeared here in the form of a deer. With his antlers he first raised the sun into the heavens. So each year the Huichol trek across 800 kilometres of arid wilderness to their sacred summit Leunar. There they eat a sacred cactus and pray “that our ancient culture does not disappear. . . and the candles of life that give meaning to our identity are renewed.”
Efren was one of eight Wixarika leaders chosen by their communities in the highlands of Jalisco, Durango and Nayarit to travel from their communities to this town in Mirando City, Texas. They were there to attend the International Convention of the Native American Church, a union of Native American peoples of North America dedicated to preserving the right to traditional use of the sacred peyote plant, or medicine as it is known.
Despite Wirikuta’s protected status and its designation as a UNESCO Historic and Cultural Heritage Site, the Mexican government granted 22 mining concessions covering 15,631 acres to the Canadian mining company. Seventy percent of these concessions lie within the Wirikuta protected area.
Canadian mining corporations were not necessarily directly responsible for the deaths and acts of intimidation and violence, but some of them were carried out by company security personnel and current or former employees. So it may be the case that the implicated companies are not legally liable, but alongside the local elites and states that license and promote extractive activities, they at the least bear a moral responsibility for creating the situations of conflict in which assassinations and other acts of violence take place.
The Huicholes, who call themselves Wixarika, make pilgrimages to their ceremonial place in the Sierra Madres across the Chihuahua desert to Leunar in Mexico, their sacred mountain where the sun first rose. A Canadian mining company, First Majestic Silver Corporation, plans to exploit and mine this area. The company is planning to use cyanide to mine the sacred region. This disastrous mining will destroy the ecosystem and the sacred places of the Wixarika.