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Murders in mining country

Activist and community leader Mariano Abarca Roblero had just been released after eight days in jail for alleged anti-mining activity. In the town of Chicomuselo, near the Guatemalan border, people gathered for a weekend conference organized by the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) to discuss the effects of mining and how best to oppose local projects. Besides helping organize the event, Mariano-who had been fighting against a barite mine near his home operated by Canadian company Blackfire Exploration Ltd.-was treated like the guest of honour. As the weekend came to a close, Mariano’s four adult children and his wife gathered around him as people attending the conference asked to have their photos taken with him. He was a hero for having survived several days in jail for his anti-mining stance. On top of everything, he said he was as determined as ever to keep fighting. “People have seen lives lost, dead livestock, waterways contaminated – that’s what they’ve seen of Canadian mining,” says Mexican activist Gustavo Castro. Besides Blackfire’s barite mine, the Canadian-owned San Xavier mine site in San Luis Potosi has also been the site of conflict between workers and residents. But less than three months later, Mariano was dead, shot in the neck and chest outside his home in Chicomuselo.

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