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Samalayuca residents delay Copper Mine opening, continue protests to preserve farms and famous dune fields

Borderzine - 8 hours 52 min ago

SAMALAYUCA, MEXICO — Residents of this small farming town in northern Mexico petitioning authorities to stop a copper mine from opening have managed to temporarily halt the project.

They started protesting last August after the Canadian mining corporation VVC Exploration announced plans to open the mine ‘La Gloria’ in the Samalayuca desert.

A district judge on March 5th ordered the suspension of the mining project for at least five months, according to a report from El Diario de Juarez newspaper.

But opponents know the fight is far from over in Samalayuca, a small agricultural town in Chihuahua about 35 miles south of El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border.

Residents and environmental activists protesting the mine are supported through various organizations including Frente Eco-Social Paso del Norte, Frente Ciudadano Contra la Mina, and Para Que No Nos Mine la Mina.

Samalayuca is home to about 1,126 residents and many are concerned the mine threatens their health and way of life.

“Samalayuca is agricultural, it is not a mining town, and the mine will generate contamination affecting our children in the future,” said Ramiro Herrera, a landowner, resident and farmer from the area.

His family has owned land in Samalayuca for generations. He was among residents and other mine opponents who staged a demonstration during a visit by Mexico’s president in January.

“We’ve been protesting. When the president came to Juarez, we protested, and he said there won’t be a mine,” Herrera said.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced that nothing will proceed without support of the people. Local political leaders with the president’s party MORENA have sided with opponents of the mine.

“All mines contaminate, and more so this one which will have an open-pit. We’re joining forces so that this mine never opens. We are speaking with the corresponding authorities as government representatives, and at the moment they’re supporting us to stop the opening,” said MORENA Municipal Executive Committee Coordinator Luz Elia Marín Renteria.

Economic benefits debated

Marín Renteria claims that a majority of residents oppose the mine, but clarified that there is still some disagreement among landowners who are renting their land to the mining company.

There is also strong support for the from Javier Melendez Cardona, presidente seccional of Samalayuca, the equivalent of a mayor.

Melendez Cardona, has repeatedly said that the mine represents a $4 Billion investment that will generate taxes that can be used to improve education and medical infrastructure in the small town.

In 2019, Melendez said that the mine would help reduce unemployment in Samalayuca which he estimated was at 63 percent at the time, according to an interview with El Norte, a digital news source in Ciudad Juarez.

Some residents dispute that claim. “Samalayuca doesn’t need a mine. Here, whoever doesn’t work it’s because they don’t want to, whether they’re men or women,” resident Aída Sapien said.

“I’ve always been in favor of small town development but if there’s a negative impact to us or to the children, who will really suffer the consequences? I think it shouldn’t be done,” said Celso Rodriguez Flores, a resident from Samalayuca, about the mine.

Oswaldo Alvarado, a landowner in the area said he was completely against the project mainly because of its impact on the environment, local economy and the stability of the town.

“Those who support it say there will be a lot of employment, but with it there will also be a social breakdown. Currently we have a really calm town without crime. But what happens when a lot of outsiders start coming to a small town? There will be a social breakdown, there will be assaults,” Alvarado said.

In response to the environmental concerns, local officials have said there will be certain environmental protections, according to several local news reports in August when the company announced it was planning to mine copper in the area:

  • The banning of cyanide
  • A requirement for recycling contaminated water
  • A provision that will allow the company to mine only 4 percent of the land’s surface
  • The condition that two sites will not be open at the same time

Another concern is that the local agricultural economy will suffer because much of the produce that farmers in the area currently sell and export to the US will no longer be purchased due to possible contamination, according to Alvarado.

“There will be an impact on crop production,” Alvarado said. He said farmers grow tomatoes and squash. “There are already people exporting to the United States, but they already said that if the mine opens they will stop buying produce from Samalayuca,” Alvarado said referring to US produce buyers.

Rene Cereceres, another resident was torn about whether to support or oppose the mine. “The benefits are in the economy, the job opportunities for the people here in the town and well, yes the economy will improve. On the negative side, there’s the contamination, the crowds of people in the town, and the increase in crime,” Cereceres said.

During the 16th of September, Independence Day Parade in nearby Ciudad Juarez, activists and residents staged a protest directing their complaints to Ciudad Juarez mayor Armando Cabada Alvidrez.

That same month, the company announced it had received Environmental and Land Use Change Permits to operate the mine, according to VVC.

“VVC is aggressively seeking to convert its near production copper project, Samalayuca, to pilot, then full, production,” according to a press release posted on the company website.

Changing Natural Protected Area status

The acres of white sands of the region earned Samalayuca ‘natural protected area’ status by presidential decree in 2009 to conserve the regional “flora and fauna” as well as the territory of the sand dunes, according to the Official Journal of the Federation, which is similar to the Federal Register in the United States.

Just five years later, landowners from the territory of ‘El Ojo de la Casa’, where the mine is planned, started filing appeals to reverse the protected status of the Samalayuca region.

The governor of Chihuahua in 2015 praised amendments to the Natural Protected Area Plan to allow mining copper, gold and silver in Samalayuca.

“Thanks to the efforts and agreements with the federal government, the protected natural area is in the process of being changed, which will benefit the region (Samalayuca),” said Governor of Chihuahua Cesar Duarte Jaquez, according to VVC.

By 2017, the company had begun exploration and extraction of copper from the area for material testing. This happened briefly after they had received their first drilling permit, according to VVC’s website.

Last fall the Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez organized a public forum to discuss the environmental, economic and socio-cultural impact of the mine. Representatives from VVC were invited to participate. The mining company declined to send a representative to the forum where residents, academics, activists, and several government officials from the local, state and federal level discussed the planned mine.


A new era of mining


The copper extraction project is owned by Samalayuca Cobre S.A. de C.V. VVC Exploration has a 33.75% stake in the company according to the company’s website. Orford Resources Ltd., another Ontario-based mining company focused on exploration in Northern Quebec owns 28%, Firex S.A. de C.V., a Mexican company based in San Luis Potosi, owns 25% and Inversiones Agrofinancieras de Panamá, a Panama-based mineral explorer company, owns 13%, according to company’s records in Business News Americas, a business consulting services company.

Firex was at the center of a controversy in Zacatecas in 2014, when the company didn’t pay 15 months of rent, worth $120,000 for the administration of a project in the central Mexican state, and laid off at least 50 employees, according to a report from La Jornada that year.

VVC Exploration did not respond to repeated requests from Borderzine for comment via email and phone.

Copper production has been in the center of controversy in the Paso del Norte region for decades. In the 1950’s copper was extracted from the Samalayuca desert area in an “artisanal mining” project and transported to El Paso to be processed at the ASARCO Smelter, according to the VVC’s website.

Asarco has a history of contamination. In December 8, 1973, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released a document linking the ASARCO smelter in El Paso to lead absorption by residents on both sides of the border.

Asarco suspended operations in El Paso in 1999, and on April 13, 2013, the plant, including its iconic smoke stack towering over the border, was demolished.

As this new era of mining in the borderland region begins, residents on both sides of the border are worried about the impact on their health and the environment.





Click hear to read Samalayuca residents delay Copper Mine opening, continue protests to preserve farms and famous dune fields

Categories: Local Blogs

Springing things on us

ElPasoSpeak - 13 hours 52 min ago

The city actually has several city charter amendments that they hope to get us to approve.

This one is horrible.

The current city charter allows them to add an emergency ordinance to a city council agenda only two hours before the meeting.  That allows them to ambush us with surprises that we cannot react to.

Evidently that is not enough for these people.  They want to reduce the time required to one hour.

I cannot think of a single emergency that would really justify only one hour of public notice.

State law does allow the city to hold emergency meetings.  They can only do this for reasons of “urgent public necessity” and are at least required to give the news media notice.

Let’s see if they remember to put those restrictions in their amendment.  I wouldn’t bet on it.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

COVID-19 in CD Juarez, MX

El Paso News - 18 hours 11 min ago
In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mexican government, health and health authorities at the local level have not only engaged in hiding information from workers, but since many of these companies have been deemed as “essential,” they have placed the life and health of thousands of workers at risk. Since last week, Attorney Susana […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Riddle Me This About N95 Masks

EPN - Border Analysis - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 10:00pm
Many Americans decry the exporting of manufacturing jobs to other countries – namely China and México. Their argument […]
Categories: Local Blogs

How I Lost My Teaching Job by Chuck Taylor

El Paso News - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 2:17pm
Now and then we will upload material that future contributors or readers have sent us. The goal is for contributors to post their content but I am open to uploading for them on a case-by-case basis. I asked Chuck Taylor if he could share some of his El Paso stories. Taylor is a prolific writer […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Why El Paso News?

El Paso News - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 11:17am
On March 1st I ran into Bob Moore at a Press Conference at L&J’s Cafe in Central El Paso. I have known Bob for many years. I went up to him and asked him if he planned to include art and culture in his publication El Paso Matters and he told me he wasn’t. He […]
Categories: Local Blogs

What should happen here?

ElPasoSpeak - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 5:00am

According to an article in El Paso Inc. an El Paso call center recently tricked  city inspectors during a site visit.


They wrote “Supervisors at a GC Services call center apparently hoodwinked a city inspection team Thursday by sending call takers on break before inspectors made the rounds to see if the company was adhering to social distancing and other regulations imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”

The Inc. interviewed multiple employees that “all said they were still working side-by-side” instead of having six feet of distance between them.

The city and county have issued directives prohibiting that kind of situation.

It appears that we not only have violations of the local directives but we have managers deliberately trying to cover them up.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

The Time To Get To Work Is Now

EPN - Border Analysis - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 4:00am
Almost everyone is under stay-at-home orders and when it will end is still up in the air. Most […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Maquiladoras Offering Bonuses to Workers to Remain on the Job During the Covid-19 Pandemic

El Paso News - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 1:05am
Mexican labor lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas took to social media last week to inform maquiladora workers in Cd. Juárez to stay home and not take the bonuses that many companies are offering to workers so they can continue working. In her pleas to workers she tells them that only if they go home will the […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Welcome to the Reboot of El Paso News – think globally, act locally.

El Paso News - Tue, 04/07/2020 - 12:52am
With so much uncertainness today, we will be retooling and rebooting El Paso News to reflect who we are. You will hear from people who you don’t ordinarily get to hear voice their concerns as they speak for themselves and their communities. I have taken over as Editor and will be inviting various individuals to […]
Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso County Judge

Max Powers - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 5:32pm
You know CongressX Veronica Escobar is pissed she ain't the County Judge during the Chi-rona pandemic. She would be on television everyday looking like a leader. Instead, she is on the television bitching and moaning about this and that. And you know else is pissed? Vince Perez. He could have... Max Powers
Categories: Local Blogs

El Paso News Is ReBooting!

El Paso News - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 5:19am
Hello all! My hope is that all of you are weathering the current global crisis healthy and with loved ones. I have decided to step back from the El Paso News as I have too much on my plate. But, the El Paso News is here to stay! Miguel Juárez, PhD. has graciously accepted assuming […]
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An end to transparency

ElPasoSpeak - Mon, 04/06/2020 - 5:00am

The city is planning to have a city charter election this November.

Some of the things that they are thinking of changing don’t sound like good ideas to me.

Take this one for example:

They evidently want to exempt their advisory boards from the open meetings requirements.


Their slide explains it.  “Increased productivity and freedom of discussion among advisory boards”.

In other words the board members can get together and plot and scheme away from public view.

These people are out of control.

We deserve better



Categories: Local Blogs

The Corona Unemployment Numbers

EPN - Border Analysis - Sun, 04/05/2020 - 10:00pm
Those readers that are surprised by the high unemployment filings reported by the government on last Thursday have […]
Categories: Local Blogs

Request for donations

ElPasoSpeak - Sun, 04/05/2020 - 5:00am

ElPasoMatters sent us this the other day:


This is what they say:

While I respect Mr. Moore personally I did not like his editorial policy while he was with The El Paso Times.  In my opinion he was an enabler of the nonsense that we saw and continue to see coming out of city hall.  It seemed to me that taxpayer  money did not matter to him.

He sees five “information needs in coming months”:

  • We are already being adequately told about how to protect the health of our families
  • Solutions-focused information–I don’t know how he could possibly help
  • Ensuring that the needs of our most vulnerable populations are being met–beyond his control
  • Accountability reporting–that would be nice
  • Election coverage–facts, or opinion?

I hope that ElPasoMatters survives.

I won’t be giving them any money unless I see them as part of a solution instead of part of a problem.

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

RumpToons No: 179

EPN - Border Analysis - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 10:00pm
I hope you enjoy RumpToons No: 179!
Categories: Local Blogs

Fear may keep undocumented immigrants out of 2020 census, hurt communities

Borderzine - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 12:18pm

By Mary Lehman Held, University of Tennessee

The United States might not be able to get information about more than 10 million people in the 2020 census.

That’s the number of undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Another 16.7 million individuals live in a household with an undocumented member and so might also not be counted in this year’s census.

The primary reason that undocumented immigrants might forego participation in the 2020 census? Fear.

Fear of being found by immigration enforcement authorities. Fear of being detained to face a deportation hearing. And, ultimately, fear of being deported.

If data is missing from the 2020 census, that will harm national and community planning efforts.

Fear of deportation

The fear of being deported to one’s home country extends well beyond wanting to remain in the United States to simply have a better life.

A large proportion of recently arrived undocumented immigrants are from the northern triangle regions of Central America that include El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Though approximately 1.2 million Mexican immigrants in the U.S. returned to their home nation between 2010 and 2018, an estimated 265,000 Central Americans are fleeing annually to the United States, due to extreme violence and high murder rates.

There are 4.1 million U.S. citizen children who have an undocumented parent. Deported parents will often protect their children by leaving them behind in the U.S. This potential, and likely permanent, separation feeds the fear endured by undocumented immigrant parents.

Increased immigration enforcement policies and threats of more raids and detentions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement have escalated the fear associated with deportation.

In two qualitative studies that colleagues and I conducted with health and social service providers serving documented and undocumented Latinx immigrants in Texas and Tennessee, fear of detention and deportation emerged as a consistent component of immigrants’ daily lives.

Fear was described as so intense that undocumented immigrants avoid using medical or social services, even when their children have known medical needs. Texas providers reported that parents are unwilling to share their home addresses, since permitting outsiders into one’s home can pose risk of detection and, ultimately, deportation.

Census effects

Despite the mandated protections that prevent the U.S. Census Bureau from sharing information with law enforcement or other government organizations, fear and lack of trust of the government could very well supersede undocumented immigrants’ willingness to participate.

Interviews and focus groups conducted by the Census Bureau suggest that immigrants fear their responses would be used to identify and penalize them or their undocumented household members.

Furthermore, among those who do participate, data might be incomplete or inaccurate as a result of fear. For example, evidence suggests that proposals to include a citizenship question, though ultimately thrown out by the Supreme Court, would possibly result in more unanswered questions related to age, race and Latinx household members on the census, especially among individuals who were born in Mexico or Central America.

Responding to the Census using a tablet. Photo credit: U.S. Census

Counting matters

How might these high levels of fear influence the 2020 census?

School, voting and legislative district boundaries will be based on incorrect figures. Allocation of resources for schools and communities will fail to account for the accurate number or demographics of community members. Researchers, businesses and community organizations will design and implement projects based on misinformation.

If the Census Bureau wants to overcome barriers to participation, it will have to make efforts to educate and facilitate participation among undocumented immigrants.

Some ideas might include educating immigrants about how census data are used, in their native languages, or sharing information through trusted community members or organizations serving undocumented immigrants. Flyers, emails and texts from these organizations could potentially serve as an invaluable tool to disseminate accurate content related to the census.

Another idea is that the federal government might be able to reduce fear by ceasing immigration enforcement activity while 2020 census data are actively being collected.

The United States has an opportunity to accurately assess who resides in our country and in our communities. Fostering a climate of safety around the census is essential to achieving a complete count.


Mary Lehman Held, Associate Professor of Social Work, University of Tennessee

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Click hear to read Fear may keep undocumented immigrants out of 2020 census, hurt communities

Categories: Local Blogs

Open line Saturday

ElPasoSpeak - Sat, 04/04/2020 - 5:00am

It’s Saturday.

What’s on your mind?

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

A wise old saying

ElPasoSpeak - Fri, 04/03/2020 - 5:00am

I heard this the other day:

“We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.  We should listen twice as much as we speak.”

We deserve better


Categories: Local Blogs

Covid-19 By The Numbers

EPN - Border Analysis - Thu, 04/02/2020 - 10:00pm
I am a numbers guy. I like to understand issues by analyzing cold facts. The Covid-19 crisis is […]
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by Dr. Radut