Since 2009 the First Majestic Silver Corp., a Canadian company, acquired 22 concessions to the west of San Luis Potosi state in north Mexico. This included land on Cerro del Quemado, a sacred mountain for the Huichol Indians. As stated on their web page, this is part of First Majestic Silver Corp’s strategy to develop a major mining company based on aggressive development and an acquisition plan with a focus on Mexico. But the exploration and exploitation of old veins are harsh on the land through extensive use of dynamite and pollutants (mercury and cyanide), which contaminate mud and endanger the groundwater aquifer.
For the Huichols (or Wixaritari) the Wirikuta Mountain, as they call the Cerro del Quemado in their tradition, is where the Sun was born. Each year they perform a long and difficult march from the states of Nayarit, Jalisco and Durango, where they live, up to the Wirikuta to seek the protection of their gods. During this pilgrimage, they gather and chew peyote, a cactus with hallucinogenic properties , which allows them to communicate with their gods.
The Huichol Indians consider that the mining activities threaten the natural resources of the region – particularly the peyote and water reserves, and consequently the preservation of their culture and traditions are also in danger.
Last December, representatives of the Huichol community went to the Conference on Climate Change in Cancun (COP-16) to express their concerns to the government, but they were denied access to the conference room.
J.M.G. Le Clézio, Nobel prize winner for literature, has taken a lead in defending the Huichol Indians rights. He recently published an article in “Le Point” a leading French magazine, to draw attention to this case. Together with several well known writers he has asked the Mexican government to cancel the authorization for the First Majestic Silver Corp. for mining the Cerro Quemando.