For years, proponents of the Mexican mining industry have cited the economic boom that the industry brings to the poverty-stricken country. According to mining company Almaden Minerals,
“Mining is now the second most important industry in Mexico (second to petroleum but before tourism), and mining related activities continue to be an important component of the Mexican job market providing many levels of income opportunities.” (Almaden Minerals, Ltd.)
As with any country containing materials considered valuable by the international community, Mexico has become the target of self-interested global companies seeking their own slices of the valuable-resource pie. There has, of course, been some fallout.
First, according to Deloitte, it is not necessarily Mexico itself that benefits the most from mining operations in its own country. For example, Canada represents 75% of the total foreign investment related to the mining sector in Mexico, making Canada one of the big winners in the Mexican mining game.
And while it’s true that these mines provide employment for many of Mexico’s residents, many Mexicans have protested Canada’s heavy involvement in the mining industry for environmental reasons. Add to that a concern for how these large-scale mining operations have begun to affect indigenous culturals:
Environmental destruction, along with accompanying economic changes, cause the displacement of people. Families in communities affected by the impacts are uprooted and often begin to migrate. Nevertheless, the projects enjoy official support and are defended against rising protests from poor farmers and townspeople by the federal government (Truthout).
Lest Canada be painted as a scapegoat, alert citizens have raised concerns about the affect of other international companies as well. The Chinese, for one, are suspected of helping to foster organized crime in Mexico by cozying up to the cartels. Even though members of these same cartels may harass, torture, and extort money from the lowly workers who run the mines, it is alleged that in order to stay on the right side of cartels, mining higher-ups agree to pay their dues to crime syndicates such as the Knights Templar in order to ensure smooth operations in the region.
Unfortunately, when interest in the bottom line takes precedence over the individual lives of the local citizens, the Mexican mining industry leaves a distasteful backlash of collateral damage.
At the end of the day, the world stands in need of the minerals provided by the Mexican mining industry. It is our hope that in the future, these valuable commodities can be extracted in a way that does not endanger the life (or way of life) of any of those living in Mexico.
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