Acacoyagua: Pueblo Against Mining

Three years ago, this river was severely contaminated by a Canadian mine. The company was dumping all of the chemical waste used in the extraction process onto the ground and into the river. For this and many other reasons, one of the largest contributors to environmental contamination in Mexico and around the world is mining, and the people who suffer the most are those who live off the land as their ancestors have for thousands of years.

This image was captured in the indigenous region of Soconusco, near the Southern coast of Chiapas, Mexico, where pueblos have joined together to protect their sacred land and source of water for the wellbeing of their communities and the future of their children.

The Earth and the life she provides for us is to be honored and protected; the world is not our trash bin, it is our home.

People began experiencing health problems like itchy rashes and unexplained illnesses as a direct result of the contamination of their water source by the mine. Community members began to notice changes in the smell and color of the water – where their children bathe and play, where they wash their vegetables and clothes – and the population of fish rapidly diminished.

After the deaths of two of their loved ones due to health problems caused by the contamination of their water source, the pueblo made the decision to protect their precious territory, for the future of their children and the children to come after. Community members joined together to form the Frente Popular en Defensa del Soconusco to fight for the wellbeing of their people, and on June 20, 2015, they took to the streets with the messages "¡No a la minería!", and "¡Vida sí, mina no!", and established a blockade at the main entrance to the mine to stop it from functioning.

The contamination of the river has since improved immensely, and with it, the health of the community. Every day, their struggle against mining, as well as fear for their lives and future of their community, continues.

Acacoyagua, Chiapas

June 2018

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