By Liam Barrington-Bush
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Between January 17th and 20th, nearly 500 activists from across Mexico, Central America and beyond, gathered in the Mexican mountain town of Capulálpam de Méndez, Oaxaca, to support a growing tide of resistance to the human and environmental impacts of the extractive industries in the region.
'Yes to life! No to mining!,' organized by the Oaxacan Collective for the Defence of Territories, was one of the largest anti-mining gatherings the region has seen, as local opposition to some of the many thousands of individual extractive projects in Mesoamerica has grown dramatically in recent years.
Canada in the hot seat
The perpetuation of violence against activists, the patterns of water and soil contamination around extraction sites, and the total disregard for the autonomy of indigenous communities, were as familiar to the Guatemalans, El Salvadorians and Hondurans, as they were to Mexican activists present. John Cutfeet, a guest from the KI Nation in Northern Ontario and active participant in the Idle No More movement, brought parallel stories from his own community.
When asked how the experience of a community in Northern Canada related to those of the people of Mesoamerica, he explained that indigenous peoples of the North and South "face similar experiences and similar tactics," in which "companies and government ... try to access lands and rob us of our birth rites to those lands."