Indigenous Wixarika People Demand a Moratorium on Mining

by October 19, 2010

The Indigenous Wixarika People have issued a statement demanding the cancellation of 22 mining concessions and a moratorium on any future exploration or extraction activities in the Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosi, Mexico.

The Vancouver-based company First Majestic Silver purchased the concessions from another Canadian company in 2009, giving First Majestic mineral rights within the Real de Catorce, a semi-arid desert that includes what critics describe as "one of the most important sites of indigenous prayer in Mexico, and possibly the world."

The Wixarika, who are also known as the Huichol, would agree with that assessment. They explain that, "Since time immemorial, [we] have made the pilgrimage to the sacred land of the Wirikuta, re-creating the long journey that our ancestors made during the creation of the world to arrive at the place where the sun was born in the semi-desert area of the Real de Catorce."

"Our prayer in Wirikuta is that all and every living being on this planet maintains life, and that our ancient Wixárika culture is maintained and does not disappear, in order that the key elements of knowledge and the candles of life that give meaning to our identity as Wixárika People are renewed."

And now, the Wixarika continue, "our sacred land in the Real de Catorce desert is... the object of 22 concessions."

The concessions shouldn't have been granted, the Wixarika say, because Mexico ratified International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 169. "States that ratify Convention 169", explains Cultural Survival, "agree to respect 'the integrity of the values, practices and institutions' of indigenous peoples, and to support the 'full development of these peoples' own institutions.'" Further, any "measures that 'may' affect indigenous peoples directly must be preceded by consultations with the 'representative institutions' of the peoples concerned, undertaken 'in good faith... with the objective of achieving agreement or consent to then proposed measures.'" To date, no such process has taken place.

The sanctity of Wirikuta is the Wixarika's Peoples biggest concern; however, they also point out that some 3500 people are living in the concession area, in 16 population centres and "numerous localities". If the silver mine becomes operational, each and every one may be facing water shortages and moderate to severe health problems from the company's use of cyanide. Exposure to cyanide may cause blurred vision, severe shortness of breath, headaches and general weakness as well as paralysis, cardiac arrest, seizures and death.

For these reasons, the Wixarika say they are prepared to "use all the resources necessary to stop this devastating mining project, making use of national and international legal resources that are in our favor as well as non-violent actions of civil protest that are necessary."

In addition, they are calling for "effective strategies" from the Mexican government "that bring a better quality of life to the inhabitants of Wirikuta, that [should be] in harmony with the environment, and not destructive as is mining."

To voice your concerns and support the moratorium, please sign the following petition, which has been set up by the Traditional and Agrarian Authorities of the Wixarika People. The Petition is available at:

  • Heriberto
    October 20, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    The Wirrarika understand that they are responsible for keeping the world moving. Today, we tend to scoff at such "superstitious" beliefs. But who can truly say that they understand how the world "really" works? And in the final analysis, through their actions, the Wirrarika teach us all an attitude of commitment, responsibility and respect. That is what vanity and greed are threatening here.


  • Thunderbeing
    October 25, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Vancouver out of many other countries in the world should know of the balance between the spirit world and this one.Vancouver has experianced many mystical and miraclias events in the last 5 or 6 years they should know better then anyone then to mess with our living planet or to desecrate a sacred area.It will surprise me if they bravely go threw with these mines.Knowing that they could lose allot more then all the resources in the world.


  • eduardo
    November 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    hey big company go to your land now
    alto al saqueo de nuestros recursos
    necesitamos un presidente como chavez en venezuela que ponga un alto como lo ha hecho con todas las empresas que solo piensan en llevarse lo que sea a cualquier costo


  • December 8, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Thank you for posting this! There is a Facebook group too (with a link to your article here by the way) at the following address:


  • January 30, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Moratoriums can and have been applied and obeyed by those from the Elected Band Offices as unanimosly voted by the People for the People, the Native Treaty Peoples of Turtle Island Nations.

    As its Six Nations intention to call a moratorium on its territory, Six Nations Grand River Territory for a period of, Until Further Notice, parameter.


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