Megaprojects and Militarization: A Perfect Storm in Mexico

Todd Miller

The 40-day blockade of the Trinidad mine in the Oaxacan community of San José del Progreso came to a sudden and violent halt on May 6. Mine representatives and municipal authorities called in a 700-strong police force that stormed into the community in anti-riot gear along with an arsenal of tear gas, dogs, assault rifles, and a helicopter.

The overwhelming show of force was in response to community residents’ demand that the Canadian company Fortuna Silver Mines immediately pack its bags and leave. The company is in the exploration phase of developing the Trinidad mine. The result was a brutal attack, with over 20 arrests and illegal searches of homes. Police seemed to be going after a heavily armed drug cartel, not a community protest.

This is one of the drug war’s dirty secrets: As Mexican security budgets inflate with U.S. aid – to combat the rising power of drug trafficking and organized crime – rights groups say these funds are increasingly being used to protect the interests of multinational corporations. According to a national network of human rights organizations known as the Red TDT, security forces are engaged in the systematic repression of activists opposed to megaprojects financed by foreign firms such as Fortuna Silver Mines.
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