A delegation from Sonora in Mexico visited London in mid-May to attend the AGM of mining company Fresnillo plc. They also held meetings with human rights organisations and authorities.

The Mexican delegation, made up of four ejidatarios from El Bajío in Sonora, Mexico, along with Tolvanera’s documentary filmmaker, arrived in London on Friday, May 13. ‘Ejidatorios’ are owners of common land. who have particular rights under Mexican agrarian law. These lands belong to a group of people who have rights over the use of common and family plot lands

The ejidatarios would be facing violations of their rights due to the Soledad-Dipolos operation of Fresnillo plc. Soledad-Dipolos, a mine run by Minera Penmont (Penmont Mining), a subsidiary of the Fresnillo Group, is an open-pit gold mine which operated between2009 and 2013 in the northeast of the state of Sonora, on communal land in an area called El Bajío. The Fresnillo Group  was until recently chaired by Alberto Bailléres, one of the richest men in Mexico. Bailleres’s fortune amounts to about 9.2 billion dollars. The company is now chaired by his son. Read the complete report here https://londonminingnetwork.org/ejido-el-bajio-press-kit/ 

Photo: Teacher´s day by LMN

During the visit, the delegation participated in the teachers’ day event organised by the London Mining Network where they were able to present their testimonies and strengthen ties of solidarity. During the visit, the documentary Tolvanera was presented at the Dalston Solidarity Café, an event supported by London Mexico Solidarity. The presentation of the documentary began with a water ritual to welcome the ejidatarios. The work of the participating organisations was presented At the end of the event there was a space for conversation to learn about the ejidatorios’ demands  and publicity strategies and to show solidarity in support of their demands.

One of the objectives of the visit was to be able to hold meetings with local authorities and human rights organisations to publicise the situation they are facing in El Bajío, due to the fact that Fresnillo Plc has not respected the legal sentences against the company, but above all to make known the increase in violence they are facing in the territory.

Photo: Tolvanera film screening in Dalston Solidarity Cafe, supported by London Mexico Solidarity and London Mining Network 

The delegation had the opportunity to meet with Dan Carden, MP for Liverpool, who is also Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Mexico (https://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/apg/), and Nicole Piche, the coordinator of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, and they held meetings with the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre to present the case. In these meetings they had the opportunity to discuss the human rights violations that Penmont and the Mexican government are accused of having committed over the past 16 years.

The Mexican Embassy in London also received the delegation. They delivered a formal letter to comment that the presence of the Penmont mining company within their territories has brought, as a direct consequence: serious effects on the environment; the looting and dispossession of ejidatorios’ lands; the forced displacement of ejidatarios; human rights violations and the impossibility of developing a full and peaceful life within the ejido.

“We, from the El Bajío ejido, are committed to life, we know that the effects on the territory have direct consequences for all of us, that is why we consider it extremely important that you, as our representative and defender of the environment, have this information and can generate actions that lead to the fulfilment of justice, the conservation of our environment and the defence of the life of all Mexicans in our country”. Members of El Bajío to the Mexican Ambassador 

Photo: Meeting with Dan Carden and Nicole Piche at UK Houses of Parliament 

On Tuesday, May 17, the Fresnillo AGM was held. The ejidatarios together with their legal representative, accompanied by the London Mining Network and London Mexico Solidarity, held a protest before entering the Fresnillo AGM. During the AGM, the delegation presented its demands to the company regarding the rulings that Grupo Fresnillo’s Penmont has not complied with.

“The judgments issued by the Agrarian Court indicate that the Penmont mining company must:

  1. Return to the El Bajío ejido all the gold extracted during the illegal occupation of the land.
  2. Evict all the lands of the El Bajío ejido.
  3. Pay the rents to the ejidatarios for the illegal occupation of their lands; that payment must be counted from the beginning of said occupation and that it must be stipulated until the land is restored to its original state.
  4. Restore the land to its natural state; this implies that the lands must be returned to the state they were in before the illegal occupation by the Penmont mining company. This includes compensation for: hills, flora and fauna, and filling in pits. In addition, it is established that if the restitution of the land is not physically possible, then the El Bajío ejido must be compensated.
  5. Remedy the damage to the environment and polluted the land, leaving it in a suitable condition to be used in agricultural and/or livestock activities.

“Later in 2019 we filed a new lawsuit before the Agrarian Court number 28, for the granting of a property title, of a lot belonging to our ejido to the PENMONT mining company by the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development. On January 12 of this year, the Court issued a judgement and it stipulates that:

  1. The property title granted to Penmont mining by the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development is declared null and void since the lands in question are located within the territories endowed to the El Bajío ejido, under a presidential decree dated August 18, 1971 , as demonstrated in the definitive plan approved for the ejido nucleus.
  2. The cancellation of all registration of said existing property title in the Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development is ordered.
  3. The cancellation of the registration of said property title before the Delegation of the National Agrarian Registry in the state of Sonora is ordered.
  4. The cancellation of the registration of said property title before the Public Cadastral and Registration Registry of the state of Sonora is ordered.
  5. The cancellation of the registration of said property title before the Public Property Registry of Caborca, Sonora is ordered.
  6. The defendant is sentenced to unrestricted respect for the social property of the El Bajío ejido and is requested to refrain in the future from carrying out acts that disturb the legal and material possession that the ejido maintains within the territory.”

Photo: Protest in front of Fresnillo AGM

Photo: After Fresnillo AGM